Sexual Abuse Is Not Old News: 5 Questions for the #MuteRKelly Movement

January 11, 2019


I get it. Between the #MeToo movement, the ongoing news about some sick priests in the Catholic Church and the docuseries about R&B Singer R. Kelly, sexual abuse and harassment are all up in your face. As a childhood sexual abuse survivor, I can get overwhelmed when I check out the headlines most mornings. I'd like to look away, but for the victims, young and old, I simply cannot.

I recently posted some images on social media to publicly support the #MuteRKelly movement. Thanks to my public support of the Penn State Football and Bill Cosby victims I knew from personal experience that 100% of the responses I received would not be favorable. While 98% has been positive, that 2% kicks this survivor right in the boobs.  I'm Ieft with 5 essential questions:

How many victims does it take to put our preconceived notions aside?

How can we stop the perpetrators if we refuse to hold them accountable for their actions?

How do we encourage victims and their families to come forward?

How do we support survivors?

How can we make a difference?

We have to be honest with ourselves about why we continue to allow the money, fame and power of serial predators to drown out the voice of reason. I like the songs "Ignition" and "I Believe I Can Fly" as much as any former fan, but while the family members of R. Kelly's victims cry out for justice we cannot continue to fund his activities with radio play and streaming. If having enough cash to pay lawyers and enablers has allowed him to continue to recruit victims then it is time to do a remix on his bank account. Bank accountability speaks volumes to radio companies, concert promoters, venues and their advertisers.

We must stop blaming and shaming victims and their families.  I admire the courage of those who've come forward. It isn't easy to have your reputation, intelligence, loyalty and intentions dragged through the mud. If we don't empower survivors to speak out then their abusers can continue to hunt for new prey.

We must continue to promote and support organizations like Pat's Place Child Advocacy Center and Brave Step that help survivors heal.  Mental health services must be accessible and affordable. R. Kelly has admitted to being a childhood sexual abuse survivor.  Sadly, without intervention, some victims become perpetrators. Our churches should be offering spiritual guidance as well, not allowing the children's choir to sing "I Believe I Can Fly."

We must use the media, traditional and social, to make sure our children know that sexual abuse is wrong and should not be tolerated. Do not be ashamed to talk about it. It is not a comfortable subject, but it is one that has caused a lot of pain to alot of people. Please don't shrug it off as old news.