I don't care about R. Kelly. I care about his victims of abuse and others like them.
A lot of people are talking about the R. Kelly documentary. I have not seen any of it and do not plan to. What does bother and concern me is the aftermath of the documentary. The victim blaming, the jokes, the downplaying of heinous actions. That is what concerns me. What happens to R. Kelly legally and morally is between, him, the legal system and whatever Higher Power R. Kelly believes in.
For those that say, how can I/we be outraged at what R. Kelly is doing, when the country is in turmoil with the shutdown, I say, people can be outraged at and passionate about more than one thing at a time. In fact, I think advocating for more than one thing is healthy, because to be passionate about just one issue leaves one blind to the faults of that issue, and allows you to become extremist in your views, and no matter how noble a cause or issue is, there are fissures and faults within that issue.
Sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic abuse in all its forms (verbal, physical, emotional, financial) is NEVER okay. Abuse is ALWAYS the fault of the perpetrator or abuser.
For those people, especially men, who have said "Couldn't have been my mother, sister, cousin, aunt, friend, etc...cause said perpetrator knows I would mess them up. Or those who say, "I know 'insert loved child or woman' would have told me someone abused me." Or "I would know if someone happened to 'insert loved child or woman." THINK AGAIN. According to RAINN, 1 out of 6 women has survived an attempted or completed rape. Almost every 1.5 minutes, someone is sexually assaulted. About 75% of rapes are reported and ~ 5% of rapists are incarcerated.
Now, do you feel like you would have known? In nursing school, we were taught not to choose answers with absolutes like, always, every and never, because there is almost always an exception to the rule and you have to use your critical thinking and assessment skills, before deciding blindly accepting a lab result or sign or symptom. That said, I will take a gamble, and say that everyone reading this knows someone has experienced an act of sexual violence or domestic violence or knows someone who has experienced sexual or domestic violence, or both. You just don't know you know someone who has experienced the trauma of being assaulted.
You see, victims of violence don't want to share their assault for many reasons, but many of those reasons are the jokes people make when documentaries like R. Kelly come out. The inability to fathom someone staying through abuse. The notion that a victim just needs to get over. The shame the victims are made to feel like it was somehow their fault. The court system trying to disparage their name, when it is the perpetrator who should be on trial. Those are but just a few of the reasons.
I have been fortunate to have never been sexually assaulted, but I do know people who have been sexually assaulted and abused, and my heart weeps for them. Based off what I've seen people posts in the aftermath of the R. Kelly documentary, I can read between the lines and see I know even more people who have been abused, and my heart weeps for them too.
For those who think abuse is funny, I challenge you to think about it this way. You DO know someone close to you who has been abused. You may not know it, but you know someone. Are you really okay with joking about such a serious matter, when you look at in terms of someone you know? Maybe someone you know has experienced abuse, and they have not told anyone, but they most certainly cannot tell you now, as you make light of a very serious situation.
While you cannot avenge a past assault, you can help a person know they can come to you and not be ridiculed. It costs nothing to be empathetic, sympathetic or caring. It could cost you everything when you are not empathetic, sympathetic or caring.
It does not make you weak if a victim of assault shares their assault, and you say:
"I'm sorry that happened to you. How can I help you now?"
"I'm sorry you did not feel comfortable to report your assault." "I am here for you now."
"I'm sorry that happened to you" (and just let them take the lead).
While there are statutes of limitations on some crimes, there is no statute of limitations on how long it takes for a victim of sexual assault to heal, if they do. The fact of the matter is, there is life pre-assault and life post-assault. Life pre-assault will never be the same. Every.single.day, I see people whose lives have changed for the worse due to abusive situations they endured and many continue to endure.
I write all of this to say, you don't know what someone has gone through to get where they are, and the odds of you knowing someone who has been a victim of sexual or domestic violence is greater than knowing someone who has not, and I would hope you wouldn't be so callous toward someone you love.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, you can visit the Sexual Assault Hotline or call 866.656.4673.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can call National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.