January 2019, Lifetime began to air a special series titled “Surviving R. Kelly”. Because of R. Kelly’s status throughout the music industry and in the black community, it created a lot of buzz.
You and a lot of other people took to Twitter and other social media platforms to state and discuss your opinions on the subject. Trust me, I did the same. But as I began scrolling through my Twitter feed, it was disheartening to see that men and women alike, could not see the harm and distraught that R. Kelly caused these young girls. There is no excuse for the actions and events that were described in the show but, it was hard for some people to see that.
As a sexual assault victim, I keep close to my heart the things that have happened to me. I am quiet about it, and tell very few people.
There is a lot of embarrassment and judgement that comes along with being a sexual assault victim. Questions of what I was wearing and location come about as if that changes the pain I experienced. But after having watched “Surviving R. Kelly” and seeing some of your responses, I feel a duty as a young woman to provide perspective on what you may think is not a big deal.
I will remain anonymous for obvious, and hopefully understandable reasons, but please take the time to read my story and keep it close to your heart:
During the summer of 2012, I was an eager 14 year old preparing to enter high school in the fall. I was a normal teenage girl that enjoyed hanging out with friends and shopping. I also enjoyed going to church with my family and had a strong faith.
Every year, our church and many other churches came together to go to what we call a youth conference. This was not my first year going but I was especially excited about attending this year, because I could finally be in the high school classes with my other church friends. Little did I know, being in the high school classes would put me in contact with my rapist.
The beginning of the conference went as normal. It was on a college campus, so we got the opportunity to live in dorms for a week. We got to choose our roommates and live almost like college students. Every day, we had morning devotion and then afterwards we would separate into our age appropriate classes.
The very first day was when I met my rapist. For the purposes of this story, we will call him Samuel, Sam for short. The teacher for the class was talking to us about trusting God even when things are hard. She then had us choose partners so that we could have one-on-one conversations with another “Christian” about the topic. Unfortunately, there was an odd number of my friends so I had to partner with a stranger. This stranger just so happen to be Sam.
Our conversation was normal and I definitely had no idea that he would later inflict pain on me. We talked about how I was having a hard time since my brother had gone to college, I missed him a lot and was often stuck at home by myself.
Now that I think back, He saw this as a chance to take advantage.
He responded in a very comforting way; saying that I should use someone else to depend on in my brother’s absence. He then asked me how old I was, and I responded that I was 14. He told me he was 18 and then commented on my body. At that age, you could say that I was pretty developed for a 14 year old. To be frank, I had breasts and booty.
Being the young girl I was, I had no idea that a man that much older than I should not want anything to do with me. So when Sam asked for my number, I gave it to him. The rest of class would involve us talking about each other’s lives, assuming he was trying to get know me better and find other weaknesses that he could use against me.
The incident occurred two days later.
It began in the morning, when we “happened” to run into each other in the cafeteria for breakfast. Now that I think back on it, he probably had been there for hours, waiting for me. We sat down and ate our food together, having normal conversation. Sam asked me what I was doing later on after the scheduled basketball game. I told him I had no plans and would go back to my room and hang out with my friends. Sam prompted to ask me if I would rather hang out with him. I knew there was something a little odd about him trying to hang out with me alone so instead I offered to have him and his friends join us. He accepted.
That night, he brought one friend over and we all sat in the room talking and laughing. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Of course, there was a curfew and we seemed to have lost track of time. Before we knew it, it was past midnight. I now know, he stayed past curfew on purpose. My friend and roommate offered to let them sleep on the couch so that they wouldn’t get caught going back to their rooms. They accepted.
The rooms were set up like an East Campus Village room at UGA with a small kitchen and separate bedrooms. After they decided to sleep on the couch, my friends and I went into our separate rooms. I really wish I had locked my door. After about 30 minutes, I heard a knock on the door. It opened and it was Sam. He told me that he could not sleep and asked if I minded staying up to talk with him a little longer. I was hesitant but I was sure that it was okay being that he seemed so cool during our earlier conversations.
It then becomes a blur as to how he ended up in my bed on top of me.
I remember him saying he was cold and that he wanted me to help him warm up. I did begin to feel uncomfortable but I felt sort of trapped in my room. He began to talk to me about my brother and how I felt lonely since his departure to college.
He made me feel vulnerable then kissed me.
I tried to push away because I wanted no parts of sexual activity from him. He was strong. He pushed back and rolled on top of me as he began to take my clothes off. From here on, I will spare the further details in hope that you understand where it went from here.
I was raped.
The phrase that keeps playing in my head was as he was raping me, he said “With a body like yours, there is no way you’re 14. You can’t expect me not to want you”.
It felt like it was my fault for being built the way I was. It felt like I could have prevented it by covering up my curves.
I kept this incident to myself for months. Sadly, one of the church friends heard what was going on. She assumed I was having sex and began the rumor that I had sex at the church youth conference. It had not processed that I had been raped, being I was not really sure what that meant.
I was scared because I did allow him to come into my room and I did not scream for help. I was scared to tell my parents. I was scared that I would be seen as a harlot or whore. I tried to cover all of the tracks but my parents still found out.
Of course they were shocked and hurt. As mentioned beforehand, it had not really occurred to me that I had been raped; I thought I just had sex that I did not really like.
When my parents found out, they asked me exactly what happened. I could tell my dad did not really want to know but it was important that I told them. I told them all the details and my dad painfully told me that I had been taken advantage of and raped.
Sadly, they blamed me. They blamed me for putting myself in that situation and they blamed me for being “fast”. This caused me to blame myself, recognizing nothing that Sam had done to me.
I trusted no one, not even myself.
Since the situation, I’ve gone to therapy. I’ve learned that being raped was none of my fault. Sam is the only one to blame. I do have trouble accepting this sometimes because I think back to all the things I could have done differently, that would have kept this from happening. But bottom line is, I was underage. I was impressionable. He took advantage of my naivety and gained from it. Just as R. Kelly did with the other young girls.
It made no difference what I was wearing, me being okay with him being in my room, nor us knowing each other prior to the incident. It made no difference that I gave him my number or that I knew he was 18 years old. I never chose to be raped. I never asked him to make sexual advances with me. I was 14. He should have known better.
I write my story to show that this does have something with you. I am among you all. I interact with all of you on a daily basis. I go to The University of Georgia, I am active in the BUGA community, I am apart of multiple organizations on campus. I am the girl you wave at on the way to class. I am the girl you say hey to during Tate Time. I am the girl you sit next to on the bus.
You know who I am, you just don’t know that I have been raped.
Would you think of rape and sexual assault differently if you knew who I was? If you knew just how normal and unsuspecting I am? I hope this has provided you a different perspective on sexual assault and that is wrong for men to be interested in younger girls. I hope this brings about a different dialogue when we discuss sexual assault. I wish I was brave enough to not be anonymous so you would just how close I am to a lot of you.
Thank you for hearing my story.