I finished the documentary Surviving R. Kelly this week in my recent Netflix binges, and it really made me think about a lot of things. In the documentary R. Kelly admits that he was a victim of child sex abuse. The women that are featured on the documentary have a lot of differences, but they have similarities as well. I use the word survivor in parallel to the documentary- to refer to those that were abused by R. Kelly. Many of these survivors were trying to start a music career. Not all of those featured on the documentary met R. Kelly when they were a teenager. Some met him later in life. From the documentary, I got a Jekyll and Hyde vibe differentiating between ‘Robert’ and ‘R. Kelly’.
Currently, R. Kelly has multiple cases pending against him and USA Today reported that a trial date was announced for April 2020 for the Illinois Federal Case. My uncle loved R. Kelly’s music, particularly the Chocolate Factory album when it came out. It’s hard to accept that someone so mainstream, the artist behind “I Believe I Can Fly”, “Ignition (Remix)”, and “Step in the Name of Love”, could be responsible for so many inappropriate sexual acts. How can we as a culture deny what these ladies are saying when there are so many similarities and survivors that have come forward? R. Kelly has many supporters, some saying that these ladies are just trying to turn a profit off of R. Kelly.
I am proud of the beautiful ladies who have come forward. I support these women, and I hope they receive justice.
It Hit a Little Close to Home for Me.
After watching the series, I felt compelled to write about some of my personal issues. I was introduced to porn at a young age, before I went to elementary school, and throughout my developmental years. Someone I was around as a kid watched Rated X channels like I binge Netflix. He would sit around in his underwear fondling himself all the time watching porn, while I was a kid in his presence. He was that way for as long as I can remember being around him. He never touched me or said inappropriate things to me… but the environment is etched in my childhood memories, and I can’t erase that.
Dr. Gail Dines researches the effects of porn on younger minds. Some of the effects of hypersexualized media on girls are:
- Increased levels of anxiety and depression
- Developing low self-esteem
- Increased chance of eating disorders and self-harm habits
- Increased likelihood of drugs and alcohol abuse
- A higher risk of engaging in risky sexual behavior
- A higher risk of sexually abusing others or becoming sexually abused
I had two sexual assaults, one when I was 12 and one when I was in my mid-20s.
When I was 12, I was at a friend’s house and went into her bedroom to get the house phone. I wanted to call my mom to come get me. She had some of her friends over and I was uncomfortable. A boy older than us, that was black, followed me into her bedroom. He pinned me down on her bed and started pulling his pants down. I struggled for a few moments, but was able to push the boy off of me. I didn’t tell anyone about it for years. After that encounter, I had a problem being around black men. I wasn’t racist. I had plenty of school friends that were black. I just had this mental block because of what happened to me that I was not able to overcome for years. Even when I was 17, working in a shoe store in the mall- I couldn’t be on an isle alone with tall, black men. I would almost have an anxiety attack. This feeling started fading and now I do not have that mental block.
In my adult years, I was out one night at a friends and decided to stay the night because I had consumed alcohol. It was nothing unusual, I had stayed the night there more times than I could count. I was a family friend, even baby sat their children. I was asleep on the couch and woke up to a body pressed against me. I didn’t open my eyes or make a sound. I pretended to be drunk and groggy, turning away while a voice I recognized said things like, “You know you want it.” I felt him against me constantly as I kept pushing away and turning into impenetrable positions. All the while, his wife was in a room nearby. I could have screamed. I didn’t. It seemed to be an eternity, although I am sure it was somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. My phone rang and I was so glad because he stopped. I got my things and left. I went to the friend’s that called and cried until I fell asleep. I was pushed away from people that were in my life for years, and never confronted him.
…and you learn to accept it wasn’t your fault. You shouldn’t feel ashamed or guilty that it happened. You learn how to deal with it in your own way, whether it was a major assault or minor. Assault is assault.
I am thankful these assaults did not end in rape. I talked to my counselor about the situations, and she said that it is normal for people not to scream or make scenes during a sexual assault. The body is in shock and your brain is somewhat paralyzed.
I have memory problems and don’t remember a lot of things sometimes, but I will never forget what I seen as a child, being 12 and fighting someone off of me, or pretending to be drunk and groggy while someone I trusted sexually assaulted me with their wife in the next room.
I cannot imagine coming forward in times like today against someone as powerful as R. Kelly. After watching the Netflix series, and learning about the circle of people he had protecting him- it disgusts me to know that people willingly let women (younger and older) be manipulated by his fame. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and if you do not believe the stories of these women, former employees, and others featured in the docuseries then I hope you are proved wrong by the future court sessions. These women deserve justice, and I hope the system today is capable of overpowering fame to give these women fair trials.
If you have been a victim of sexual violence or assault, you are not alone. You may never forget the terrible feelings or memories either, but YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE.
If you need assistance please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline, that is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673.