I will admit that I am late to the party of watching "Surviving R. Kelly" that premiered on Lifetime and if you're like me and late, let me fill you in. A docu-series consisting of six episodes (all very disturbing episodes) that recounts the abuse (physical, mental, and sexual) from multiple women who are openly sharing their stories of, well basically surviving ongoing abuse from R&B singer, R. Kelly. The series features the survivors, old tour buddies, and old friends alike.
Many people in the docu-series said they recognized the predatory behavior that R. Kelly exhibited, like seeing underaged girls lounging around the studio or having girls sent to his house in private.
Demetrius Smith recalled that because he (and others) worked for him, they had to do whatever he wanted. A music executive said that he would see these girls and see that they looked young, but he never bothered to ask how old they were or even ask for identification. His ex-wife (and survivor) Andrea Kelly made a good point by saying that he had to have people helping him because he was too busy doing video shoots and recording songs for his albums. Musician Sparkle recounted an executive saying that he didn't care that R. Kelly was on a tape (that featured him doing repulsive things to a minor who just so happened to be her niece), he, being R. Kelly, was too expensive to lose.
Just by hearing these things, I saw that he surrounded himself with people who chose to not intervene and watched these girls, who were as young as 12 years old at the time, be abused by a man twice their age and nobody bothered to check him; nobody bothered to help these children.
I don't know about you, but that makes my stomach turn over and I get sick thinking about how grown-ups are enabling this to happen - how grown-ups are abetting human trafficking.
In my opinion, they are just as sick as R. Kelly.
If they had spoken up, multiple girls would be at home with their parents - in a loving and caring environment - and not in a prison cell waiting to be abused. They wouldn't have to worry about when they would eat next or hold their inner fluids because they were told when to go to the restroom (which just so happened to be a bucket in the corner of the room). They don't get how dehumanizing that makes a person feel because I felt like crap watching these women talk about their experience. I got so upset at one part of hearing how the employees and friends would turn a blind eye that I had to get up and walk away from the television. Needless to say, I am disgusted by not only R. Kelly's actions, but the people who helped him run his cult - his prison.
The bystander effect is real and it happens far too often, not just in the cases of R. Kelly.
People witness abuse every day and choose to say nothing (not believing someone is also enabling the behavior, just FYI). People dismiss stories and accounts of abuse daily and that's why so many live in fear, stay silent, and suffer alone. If there is a group of four or more people around someone who is being abused (or know someone who is being abused), the likeliness of them stepping in and helping is 31%. I don't know about you, but those numbers are far too low for only four or more people to intervene.
You can have as many self-defense classes as you want or implement Good Samaritan laws, that does not change the fact that far too many cover abuse or enable the continuation of abuse. People blame the victims for putting up with the abuse, but it's not as easy as packing a bag and walking away. There is a psychological block that they feel (especially if they have children) that prevents them from leaving. Statistics show that it takes a woman up to 7 times to finally leave an abuser. The bystander effect is real and it's a problem. Being a bystander may be the equivalent to being the abuser; you do nothing, say nothing, and allow for someone to be hurt repeatedly.
Help bring an end to abuse and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).