'Surviving R. Kelly' Shows How We Fail Sexual Assault Survivors

'Surviving R. Kelly' Shows How Poorly Society Still Handles Sexual Abuse

Watching the documentary, it was clear that the reason why it was so swept under the rug and why R. Kelly was found not guilty was because these girls were minorities.

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The other night, when I should have been studying for my MCAT's, I was flipping through TV channels in my living room and I stumbled across, "Surviving R. Kelly" on Lifetime. I usually hate Lifetime documentaries but something about this one was so intriguing to me that I couldn't change the channel.

I assume it was because growing up, everyone in the black community had polarized opinions about him. People either loved him or hated him. And hated him for a good reason. Since I was younger, I've heard rumors about R. Kelly's behavior... the sexual assault, the child pornography, and the luring of teenage girls. But this documentary was more than just reiterating what we all already heard... this documentary tried to get to the root of it and pull substantial evidence from recordings, eyewitnesses, and first-hand accounts.

But something that haunted me when I was finished watching the six episodes of the special was that stories like these aren't unique. The sexual assault of young women happens literally EVERY DAY, by family members, friends, and even total strangers. But what interested me, was the sociological impact it had on our community. The fact that the issue like this is so swept under the rug is truly devastating.

What also struck me was that during R. Kelly's trial for child pornography, many fans (whom being black women) stood outside the courthouse and supported him throughout his trial. I mean... like dang, this guy is literally ON TRIAL for CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. A victim in situations like this could be anybody: You, your daughter, your best friend, your niece, etc. and they decided to SUPPORT this perverted creature? It's sickening. It's something that really makes me upset because I feel like sexual abuse just isn't talked about in the black community as much. It's something that's borderline "normal" or if it happens no one will believe you. It's terrible because people should stand by victims and believe them.

Watching the documentary, it was clear that the reason why it was so swept under the rug and why R. Kelly was found not guilty was because these girls were minorities. The jury said that they didn't believe the girls who got up on the stand to testify against R. Kelly about the video, and although it wasn't explicit, it's clear that it's because they were young ethnic females. Do I believe that the process would have been speedier and that he would have been found guilty if his victims were white, young women? Of course. It's just sickening that these minority youths didn't get a chance to see their predator locked up.

I will admit, the reason why he was also found not guilty could have been due to the fact that he was rich, famous, a genius with music, charismatic, etc. But this poses an even bigger issue: Why are the stories of these young girls debased because of a famous person?

Don't their lives, sanities, and physical wellbeings matter more than a #1 hit on Billboard's Top 100?

It truly baffles me how people STILL support this man, even though there's so much evidence implicating him as a child predator. We should be holding this man and ALL THE ABUSERS OUT THERE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS AGAINST THESE VICTIMS. This needs to STOP. We need to stop giving people like this the time of day and enabling them to continue this god-awful behavior.

That's why the #MeToo movement is SO IMPORTANT! We need the narratives of these victims in order to end the disgusting cycle of sexual abuse in our society. Situations like these need to be brought to light and taken seriously.

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I Support Late-Term Abortions, That Doesn't Make Me A Baby-Hating Monster

A late-term abortion is a horrible, devastating and heartbreaking choice... but one I'm glad women have.

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If you think that late-term abortions are for mothers who get to 8.5 months and then randomly decide they no longer want to have a baby, then don't even read this article. This article is not to argue with ignorance. Read some unbiased articles, actually, think about it for two seconds and then realize that women who are due any day now aren't just going to terminate their pregnancies because it is "legal" now. (It is not.)

I've seen so many posts and comments and arguments, the crux of them being, "I can't imagine aborting my child after 24 weeks."

Well, guess what... The women this law will apply to probably can't imagine it, either.

Nearly all abortions occur in the first trimester of pregnancy (approximately 91.1%). This tells us what is (more than likely) a pretty obvious fact: That beyond the first trimester, most women are planning to keep their baby (or give him or her up for adoption). So you can imagine that even being presented with the option of termination would be heartbreaking.

Imagine this: You're pregnant and absolutely ecstatic to bring a child into the world. You go in for an appointment at 30 weeks. During the exam, your doctor is quiet. You are growing extremely anxious. They tell you that they have some bad news. Your daughter has a serious condition, one that will allow her to live less than a year. They can perform a c-section, she will be in the NICU for a long time, but even once you take her home, she has an extremely low chance of survival. Her life will be painful. Or, they can perform an abortion.

What do you choose? For some, they absolutely cannot fathom the idea of termination. They'd rather take a chance at life. And for some, they cannot even fathom the idea of watching their child live a painful, short life that will end in incredible heartbreak.

Both of these are traumatizing decisions. Your pregnancy and your hope for the future and your plans for the child you are so excited for have come crashing down. This is not a lightly made decision. And if you would choose to take your chances, pray for a miracle and get to hold your child in your arms, you should have every single right to.

But if you decide that the trauma of terminating your pregnancy without having to fall further in love with your child and watch him or her struggle every day and deal with the gutwrenching pain of losing them, you should have every single right to make that choice, too.

This is not cut and dry. This is something that changes from woman to woman, from family to family. But one thing stays the same: Learning that the life that you planned for your baby can no longer be as you desperately hoped is heartbreaking. It is a uniquely horrific feeling that, you're right, you can't imagine. No one can imagine it until they're living it. I write about it and I think about it and I have to assume that there is nothing in this world that can prepare you for it.

Posting and commenting that women who choose the path of late-term termination are monsters or killers or heartless is wrong.

Picture this: A pregnant woman and her husband, sitting in an exam room alone after learning devastating news about their pregnancy. They're holding one another, sobbing, thinking through their options. Trying to decide if ending their pregnancy, crushing the hopes and dreams they had for their little baby is the right choice, or continuing on and hoping for a miracle but knowing they should prepare for the heartbreak of their lives. Picture them, through tears, while holding an ultrasound photo to their chest, telling the doctor they choose to terminate. Picture them going home, sitting in the nursery they decorated, calling their parents and telling them their grandchild won't be arriving.

Are you picturing a couple of monsters? A couple of heartless killers?

Or do you see a family put into an impossible situation, trying to make an impossible decision for themselves and their unborn child? A family who threw a baby shower and decorated their nursery and argued over the perfect name for months. Who took progress photos of their baby bump, who talked about what sports their kid would play, who had to hear the devastating news that turned their world upside down?

I don't see a monster. I don't see a killer.

I see pain, I see hardship, I see love.

And I hope that you do, too.

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I Will Ask 'What's My Name'

A simple phrase that could save my life

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Recently, a USC student, Samantha Josephson, lost her life after getting into a car that she had thought was her Uber. Her friends were worried when they realized she never made it home and they couldn't get a hold of her. Her body was soon found. As a college student myself, and an avid Uber user, this story absolutely terrified me and has been running around my mind since I read the news story and watched the clips of her getting into the car.

Think of how often you call an Uber or a Lyft, whether it's in broad daylight because you are heading to get groceries or late at night heading home from a bar. Often, I try my best not to Uber alone, but sometimes that isn't the case if I am going back to my own apartment after a night out with my boyfriend (who always walks me to my Uber and calls me on the way so he knows I make it back safe). But unfortunately, not everyone has that luxury. And yes, unfortunately, just that one small thing he does is a luxury.

Uber has been around for a few years now but does not do enough to ensure the safety of both the driver and the passenger. Background checks are not extensive, or non-existent. Too many people are attacked, abducted, raped, or murdered by using a simple service to get to their personal destination. And being a woman especially, makes me, and others, that much more likely to experience this fate.

I am so deeply upset and terrified for Samantha, other victims, and myself. For when I step in an Uber, I put myself at risk. I keep going back to what I imagine she must have been thinking when she realized what would happen. The fear that must have consumed her wholly from the minute she knew things were wrong. The things she would have wanted to tell her loved ones. The way her life should have played out.

Watching the video of her stepping into what she thought was her Uber still give me chills and make me want to throw up. At that moment, her fate was sealed. I am so utterly heartbroken.

So from here on out, I will share my ride with my friends. I will sit in the backseat. I will stay on the phone with friends when I get in the ride. I will not ride drunk. I will not Uber alone. I will check the license plate of the car. I will be aware of my surroundings. I will avoid Ubers at all cost if possible.

I will ask "who are you picking up?" instead of saying "is this for Katie?".

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