I recently watched a documentary series on Lifetime Network called Surviving R. Kelly, and now it has me thinking about how I am raising girls in an R. Kelly world. I’m sure by now you have seen it, or at least you have heard about it. The series depicts an enormous number of women who come forward with accusations of abuse, predatory behavior, and pedophilia. R. Kelly denies all of this of course, but the evidence and video evidence captured during the filming of this documentary points to a pretty alarming case against him, and it has spurred many more investigations since the show aired.
The young girls and women who came forward and told their stories about what R. Kelly had done to them were very brave, and their stories were heartbreaking. The emotional grooming that this pedophile and abuser did to these young women is astounding. We are talking about the worst type of emotional hijacking that you can fathom. R. Kelly is skilled at making girls feel like they are special, reeling them into his lair, and then completely shutting them out of any relationships or friendships that they might have had prior to him, including their parents and family. One father of one of these victims even claimed that his daughter was experiencing Stockholm Syndrome, a condition that causes hostages to form an alliance with their abductor in an attempt to survive.
Every single one of these girls who came forward to tell their story had one single thing in common. They were all enamored over the fact that someone famous like R. Kelly took notice of them and wanted them, as if he somehow made them better, more worthy, and more important than they were without him. This made me stop in my tracks to think about my own daughters and how they are no different than any other girl out there who might fall into this trap as well. My daughters are 10, 11, and 20 years old. My two youngest daughters are not much younger than many of these women who came forward were when they first met R. Kelly.
Whether it is R. Kelly and his cult-like modern day sex slaves, or Charles Manson and his cult of women who worshipped him like a god, these women were manipulated, brain-washed, and groomed! These women were made into R. Kelly’s own personal sex slaves, which makes them trafficking victims. When we think of sex trafficking today we probably think about the stories that we hear from moms who notice someone following them in Walmart or the Ikea store, waiting for the perfect opportunity to snatch a child right out of the shopping cart and run out of the store to get into the creepy white van waiting in the parking lot. Parents! HEAR ME! This is not the only way that our children can be victimized. Sex traffickers do not always abduct their victims.
Females, especially young girls, have this unexplainable need to feel important to someone. Even girls who have an amazing relationship with their parents can still somehow feel the desire for more love, more attention, or more gifts. Predators know this and they leverage this to manipulate their victims into willingly cooperating with them. When these girls get involved with predators like this, these predators are not showing them their true colors. Just like this CNN article explains here, they are pretending to be exactly what these girls think they need until one day she realizes that they are not who they claimed to be. These girls are showered with love, affection, gifts, money, and attention that is just too difficult to walk away from. Then one day they wake up and wonder, “Wait. What is happening?” And by then the emotional grooming and manipulation that has taken place leaves them to believe that they can’t leave this situation because they have nowhere to go and nobody else will ever love them again.
As a mother I have to take a step back and ask myself what it is that I can do to protect my children from emotionally manipulative predators like this! Aside from teaching them to compare all men to Jesus, give them a deeply rooted life full of scripture, and praying for them like a mad woman, I believe that it is important to share the stories of these women that have come forward with them. As much as I would like to protect them from ever seeing the evils of this world, I cannot. I am ashamed to say that I haven’t even had a conversation with my youngest daughters yet about sex or where babies come from. So the thought of having to have a conversation with them about how there are predators out there waiting to get their hands on them is frightening. But it may just be exactly the thing that saves their life one day.
It is not enough to teach our children that men are not allowed to touch them or hurt them. It is not enough to teach them to speak out when someone does. This world is full of R. Kellys. He is not the first pedophile or cult ring leader. He is not the first man to ever brainwash little girls. He is not the first man to abuse women. He certainly will not be the last. This world has always been full of predators, but they seem to be getting smarter. It is time to start having some very uncomfortable and difficult conversations with out children, because I guarantee you there is someone out there who will. There is someone out there who is waiting for the opportunity to hurt our girls.
Talk to your babies! Have the hard conversations with them. Teach them to love themselves completely and know their worth. Teach them about Jesus and how Jesus gave us the perfect example of what a man should be. And then teach them about the men out there who are dangerous, even though they may appear to be desirable at the time. We can’t protect our children from everyone and everything, but we can give them the tools they need to hopefully avoid being victimized themselves. THEN PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!
ANSWER THIS QUESTION IN THE COMMENTS: At what age do you feel it is appropriate to begin teaching our girls about the R. Kellys in the world?