Surviving Facebook After R. Kelly

I wonder how many survivors feel assaulted by their timelines today.

This R. Kelly nonsense is like Deja vu with the Cosby trials all over again. Only this time the shock and awe is almost incredulous as people pretend they didn’t know R. Kelly was a pedophile and sexual deviant.

surviving R Kelly
Lifetime’s ‘Surviving R Kelly’

I didn’t watch “Surviving R. Kelly”,I didn’t have to. Even with Me purposely avoiding it, I was treated to tidbits of info along, with commentary, via Facebook. I found Myself torn as I saw people set up watch parties and dedicated hours to discussing R. Kelly and his alleged victims. There was a part of Me glad that people were eager to dialog about public predators and older men and young girls, yet, part of Me saw them like rubberneckers to a highway crash. It felt almost like they were lining up to bear witness to the pain and testimonies of these ladies and their families, but not in a helpful way. So many who lined up to watch, lined up to judge.

I’m 37, I may be too young to have paid attention when Cosby first went to trial. I was in the 10th grade. What I did know at that young age, however, is that R. Kelly was a sexual deviant. I had cut My hair to look like his young bride and protege, Aaliyah. I remember the hoopla about him and that young girl. I didn’t understand the outrage clearly because I had been molested Myself, it seemed normal; No one got so upset when a grown man was doing adult things with Me, so it being horrible didn’t even compute.

Kelly & Aaliyah
Kelly & Aaliyah

In 1994 however, Kelly and Aaliyah were married in Illinois with her falsifying her age to be with the R&B crooner. In a 2007 article, it was revealed that when GQ asked him to discuss the marriage to the 15-year-old singer, Kelly politely declined. “Out of respect for her mother who’s sick and her father who’s passed, I will never have that conversation with anyone,” he said. “But I can tell you I loved her, I can tell you she loved me, we was very close. We were, you know, best best best best friends.” Everyone kept buying his music.

marriage license
R. Kelly and Aaliyah’s marriage license

By the time R. Kelly’s infamous sex tape with the golden shower was released, I was nearly 20. I clearly remember the outrage when he was seen urinating on that clearly, young child. We didn’t have social media back then, the tapes were passed around discreetly, not blasted on social media for all to see. If anyone saw the footage, I admit to curiously purchasing a copy Myself, there were two things that were painfully clear. One could not ignore the fact that at one point, the man’s sexual partner was a very young girl whose body had barely developed nor the fact that the man in the video was clearly Robert Kelly.

Though he had been publicly called out for his relationship with Aaliyah and it was ignored, the sex tape with the minor seemed to be enough for the public to want to put an end to his sexual deviance. It wasn’t. enough Kelly was tried in court and found not guilty, ruining the career of singer Sparkle, who was adamant that the young girl in the video was her niece, not that of the disgraced singer and accused pedophile. Kelly beat that rap and continued to make music and trouble.

Over the years, his ex-wife and mother of his children has spoken out, women have claimed to have been held hostage, all kinds of allegations and disturbing facts have come to light about the man we once called a musical genius.

I didn’t need to turn on Lifetime to find out that R. Kelly was a predator and sexual deviant. I unfortunately was tuned in to Facebook, where I found out how many of My associate will line up to watch someone’s pain. My timeline was bombarded with status after status about Kelly and his alleged victims. There was a range of emotions from sympathy to disbelief, support for the singer, victim blaming and shaming, cries of “where were the parents” etc.

For those of us who purposely chose to not watch the documentary, there was little reprieve. Watch parties, statuses, memes. Last night, R. Kelly being a sexual predator took over My timeline. There were so many people asking why it took the women so long to come forth? Why were these girls around him? Why are women so stupid etc? It triggered Me so bad to see not only these stats, but the stats people were making in retaliation about those who were disbelievers.

Alleged victims
R. Kelly’s alleged victims

Somehow, the focus was off of Kelly, again, and placed on how women should act when assaulted, how they should report, the time frame they have to be believed etc. Why is it so easy for some people to look past the direct cause of a wrongdoing to find a way the victim deserved it?

When these same type conversations were being had in response to the Cosby and Kavanaugh hearings, I asked “are you helping to re-victimize survivors of sexual assault via social media?” I don’t think many people understand just how serious of a problem it is. Sexual assault survivors and victims are no longer safe in their own homes when they are being bombarded via social media play by plays of sexual assault and discrediting of victims. It is triggering. We have no control over what our social media friends share or discuss, but there has to be some level of sympathy and compassion to such sensitive topics.

I choose to not discuss the negative feelings and opinions against sexual assault survivors on My timeline. I’ve been know to snooze, unfriend, or unfollow a person without a word. It’s not personal, its protecting My peace and space. There are certain ideas and energy that as a sexual assault survivor, I do not want to take in. Just that simple. Everyone isn’t like Me. I know people who see these posts and feel the need to respond, defend survivors, share their stories with people who don’t care, or worst, will mock them.

I have witnessed how these internet train wrecks and their rubberneckers can trigger depression, remorse, ptsd,self-hate and harm in people who are just trying to get through the day. I’ll ask the same questions that I asked 3 months ago:

You know the saying, “everything’s a joke until it’s happening to you”? I get that so many of you feel comfortable being so callous, but seriously, do you stop to think about how many people you know, male and female, who’ve been sexually assaulted?

Does all of these women coming out of the wood work, voicing years of pent up anger and shame, not make you question how many people in your own life and on your social media, are hiding similar shame?

Do you never stop to consider who you may be offending, alienating or worse, re-victimizing, with your words?

If you’re the survivor of sexual assault triggered by the posts on social media, feel free to join our free community of survivors for support. Join Stronger Than My Struggles support group.

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