Lisa VanAllen, who testified against R. Kelly in his 2008 child pornography case, has penned a thoughtful New York Times op-ed that highlights her battle of alleged sexual and emotional abuse by Kelly and how she’s harnessed the abuse from past relationships into lessons.
VanAllen played an important role in the acquitted case as she was the only other person who appeared in the alleged sex tape involving a 14-year-old girl. VanAllen was just 17 when she met Kelly, and 20 years old when she realized how young the other girl on the tape was. In the years since coming forward, VanAllen was ostracized for speaking out, a moment she hasn’t forgotten.
“I was belittled and embarrassed,” she writes. “I was dragged for bad things I had done in my past. I was called a ‘streetwalker.’ They wanted me to feel like trash.” But with the release of the widely-viewed Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly, VanAllen has been met with support and praise for her bravery.
Marking 11 years since his first child pornography case, VanAllen revealed that she watched the six-part Surviving R. Kelly documentary with her child.
“My 16-year-old daughter and I put on comfortable clothes and curled up on the couch to watch the premiere of the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly. I appeared in it, along with several of Rob’s victims,” she wrote.
As the activist watched the gut-wrenching series alongside her child, she described their differing upbringings. VanAllen had been raised in the foster care systems, first becoming a victim of child sexual abuse before learning the harshness of homelessness and intimate partner violence. Her child, however, appears to have been raised absent the vicious cycles that spun Lisa into the arms of Kelly.
“I’ve protected her from things I wasn’t protected from. My daughter knows to says things like she ‘wants her space’ from boys who pursue her. And she dates boys her age. When I was 17, Rob was in his 30s. I was always looking for love; my daughter loves herself. This is what time has done. May our daughters never know men like Rob Kelly,” VanAllen said.
She went on to list how her daughter was different from herself in their adolescent years. “she doesn’t like confrontation. I was always a fighter. But that’s because I’ve had to survive so much,” she continued. “I was always looking for love; my daughter loves herself. This is what time has done. May our daughters never know men like Rob Kelly.”
Read VanAllen’s op-ed here.