Multiple women who have accused R. Kelly of sexual, mental and physical abuse speak to Rolling Stone about finding resiliency through community and how the music industry overlooks predatory behavior. The clip debuts one day before Thursday’s premiere of Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly.
“It doesn’t go away – you always live with it because it’s the person that you see on TV,” says Lizzette Martinez, detailing the effects of the alleged abuse. “You hear the music, so getting over it doesn’t really happen. You just live with it … I was 17. I was a child. He took away my innocence. He took my off the path that I was on. He changed my life forever.”
Asante McGee describes a duality between Kelly’s charismatic stage persona and his allegedly dark personal life. (The singer has faced numerous lawsuits and claims – including allegations of holding women in a sex cult.) “R. Kelly is this loving, fun guy that everybody sees, but Robert – he’s the devil,” she says. “You pretty much had to have permission to do whatever, from eating to bathing.”
Drea Kelly, who was in a relationship with the musician for nearly 13 years – including almost 10 years of marriage – praised her children with giving her the courage to move forward. “They’re my biggest supporters,” she says. “They’re the ones who tell me, ‘Mom, you gotta get out of bed today.’ They’re the ones who tell me, ‘Mom, tell your story because you’re going to save someone’s life.’ This is going to crush their world because they have to come to the reality that this monster they describe is also [their] father. But my kids also told me, ‘But mom, the hero everybody sees is our mom.'”
The six-hour Surviving R. Kelly will include over 50 interviews, including appearances from John Legend, R&B artist Sparkle, talk show host Wendy Williams and civil rights activist Tarana Burke. The project will air in three installments: Thursday, January 3rd at 9 p.m. ET/PT; Friday, January 4th at 9 p.m. ET/PT; and Saturday, January 5th at 9 p.m. ET/PT.