Andrea Kelly’s divorce from R. Kelly, the man she married in 1996 and the father of her three kids, was finalized in 2009.
But when she saw allegations against the singer reported in a July 2017 story on BuzzFeed, she felt compelled to speak out. She revealed the exact moment when she decided to make her story public during an emotional appearance on Thursday’s episode of The View, in which she broke into tears several times.
“Because it’s about saving lives,” Andrea said in reply to the first question, about the timing of her allegations, which she made public in June. “And you cannot not speak when someone’s life and what they’ve been through is parallel to yours. It’s different when you hear things and it’s like, ‘Oh, I heard it on the radio,’ or ‘I read it in a magazine,’ but it’s different when you hear words that ring true to your spirit because you’ve survived it and been through it.”
FULL INTERVIEW: For 13 years, Andrea Kelly was married to singer R. Kelly — she opens up about the years of abuse she says she suffered from the Grammy-winning artist who’s fame has been overshadowed by sexual abuse allegations, all of which he denies. https://t.co/f8u2wc159S pic.twitter.com/vwWejIX8YE
— The View (@TheView) October 4, 2018
BuzzFeed reported that R. Kelly had kept six women in a sex cult, promising to help them in their careers and then telling them when and how to have sex, what to eat, when to sleep, and what to wear. The singer denied the allegations.
Andrea said she wanted to bring “validity” to her ex-husband’s accusers. Although the #MeToo movement has prompted scores of women to reveal their own stories of abuse, Andrea said that wasn’t what did it for her.
“No, actually it was seeing a young lady on another talk show, and some of the things she had described in detail, I had been through — I mean, verbatim,” she said. “And it was just something about that that pierced my spirit, that I was like, ‘If no one else is going to speak up for her, if no one else is going to believe her, at least she knows that I do.’”
Andrea then described two occasions when R. Kelly allegedly abused her physically. In one, she said, R. Kelly, whose first name is Robert, attacked her in the back of a Hummer. The alleged incident was so upsetting that it left her with PTSD.
“I just remember sitting in the back of the Hummer and it got blue,” Andrea said. “And I just thought, oh my God, I’m gonna die in the back of this Hummer. And he’s gonna drive off with my body in the back seat, and nobody’s gonna know.”
Another time, she said, he tied up her hands and legs with the belt from his robe. Being a dancer, Andrea was able to escape once her husband fell asleep.
“Me being a dancer, I’m like, ‘If I keep moving my legs, it’s eventually gonna make this loose. And if I can get my legs loose, I can get my arms loose,’” she said. “I finally did and got away.”
“He would change my cell phone number without me knowing.”
Andrea Kelly shares how she says her ex-husband R. Kelly would attempt to distance her from family: “My parents … had to go to the newspaper and say: ‘We can’t get in contact of our daughter.'” https://t.co/f8u2wc159S pic.twitter.com/8x24E0tFvs
— The View (@TheView) October 4, 2018
She still didn’t end the marriage. The courage for that came from her daughter Joann, who’s now 20.
“We were looking at pictures, and the long and short of it is, he was being belligerent with me,” Andrea said. “And my daughter goes, ‘Daddy, why are you being mean to my mom? Why are you talking to her that way?’ And it was like a light went off for me, because I knew in that moment, if you stay, and she ends up with a man like him, and you tell her to leave, she’s gonna say, ‘But why would I? You stayed with my dad all those years.’ So I knew I had to be a living example for my daughter.”
Andrea said there was a quick moment when she contemplated suicide following her daughter’s words that day.
“When I left the room, and I went out on the balcony, and I climbed up, I put one foot … on the railing and the other was on the wall, and I got on top of the balcony, and I looked down,” Andrea said. “And God allowed me to see myself laying in blood. I just remember hearing my kids’ voices in the background, saying, ‘Mama, mama, why would she jump?’”
After that, her “darkest moment,” Andrea was ready to leave. She realized then that if she was willing to leave her kids over this, she had to go for herself and for them.
Her path out of the marriage wasn’t a straight one. Andrea obtained a restraining order against her former husband in 2005, then withdrew it a week later. In 2006, she filed for divorce but temporarily reunited with him before ending it for good, according to People.
R. Kelly has repeatedly denied his former wife’s allegations, and he did so again through his legal team when contacted by The View.