New York Jets legend Mark Gastineau was raped multiple times as a teenager: 'People will be shocked'
The 62-year-old said he was sexually assaulted when he was between the ages of 11 and 14 years by a Mexican man who worked on the family’s 80-acre ranch in Arizona
Former New York Jets defense Mark Gastineau recently opened up about the horrific childhood experience of getting raped multiple times by a Mexican man who worked on the family’s 80-acre ranch in the White Mountains of Arizona.
In an interview with New York Post, 62-year-old Gastineau, who has successfully beat Stage 3 colon cancer after a year-long battle, said that his prolonged illness gave him time to reflect over the dark phases of his life, which included being sexually assaulted when he was between the ages of 11 and 14.
“I was raped,” Mark said. “But I held it in for so long. Maybe cancer has made me confront it.”
The abuse continued till he turned 14 and eventually, Mark became afraid of his own shadow as a kid. As an athlete, he tried to remain "passive" about his less-than-pleasant experience. “Can you imagine, somebody like myself, a football player, a big bad guy, getting raped at that age? He scared me to death,” Mark said. “You would never believe I was going to grow up to be a football player.”
Mark said that he tried to keep the abuse that he faced in the past suppressed until he met his third wife Jo Ann, with whom he felt like he could share those aspects of his life. The two got married 12 years ago.
“I didn’t even think about it until I married her and I could trust someone to tell,” he said, adding that God had blessed him with a short memory. “But I held it in for so long.”
Last year, his beloved mother, Lou, passed away just two days before his colon surgery. The pain of losing her also compelled him to confront the demons of his past. “If my mom were alive, this story would never be out there,” he said. “I would never, never be telling this story because it would kill her. My dad still has a hard time believing it.”
Mark opened up about his rape to his father as recent as last year, adding that he had no intention of finding out about his abuser. “I don’t know where he is and I don’t want to know," he said.
Finally, he said that his decision to go public with such a personal story was based on the fact that he wanted to raise awareness about sexual abuse. He also wanted parents to take note to be extra cautious of the people they introduce into their children's lives.
“I might as well get used to talking about this. I am sure people will be shocked,” he said. “I really need people to watch what goes on around their kids.”