R. Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea Kelly is speaking out for the first time in nearly a decade about the alleged abuse she experienced during their 13-year marriage.
In an exclusive interview with Syleena Johnson on TV One’s daytime talk show Sister Circle, Andrea opened up about her faith and how it helped her through some of the darkest times.
“I was not strong enough,” Kelly said of why she’s remained silent for so long. “How can I be a voice for the voiceless when I don’t even have my own? So, I had to wait until God said, ‘Okay, daughter. It’s time.’”
Her words come amid mounting accusations against the R&B singer from numerous woman, many who claim to have faced abuse by his hand — all of which R. Kelly denies.
Andrea, 44, and R. Kelly (né Robert Sylvester Kelly), 51, were married from 1996 to 2009 and have three children together. They met two years before they wed, when Andrea auditioned as a backup dancer for the star. She would go on to handle most of the choreography for his tours, videos and live performances.
They weathered marital ups and downs during their time together. In 2005, Andrea filed an emergency protective order to keep the singer away from her amid claims of physical abuse — which she rescinded weeks later. The couple then filed for divorce in 2006, but were still trying to make things work.
Talking to Johnson, a teary Andrea explained the moment she finally had the strength to walk away. It hit her at one of her darkest moments, as she contemplated suicide.
“That day, I just remember playing sick all day,” said Andrea, fighting back tears. “I went and got in the bed, and I was just like, ‘Okay, what are you going to do?’ And something just said, ‘End it.’ That was my first answer.”
“I remember going out on the balcony. We were at the Wyndham Grand Bay Hotel. I’ll never forget it…Coconut Grove. I actually climbed up on the balcony, and I had one foot propped up against the wall and [with] my other foot I climbed up on the ledge,” she continued.
Looking down, Andrea said it was “almost like God was able to let me see the future. I saw my body lying in blood, and I saw the ambulance coming. I saw housekeeping come out, and they were pointing up, and they said, ‘She jumped from up there.’ Then, I remember my baby’s voice in the back going, ‘Mama, mama…why did mama jump? Why did mama leave us?’”
Sobbing, Andrea explained that she turned to God in that moment, telling Him, “God, you have to give me an answer today — not tomorrow, not in an hour. I need it now. What do you want me to do, if this is not for me?”
It was then that Andrea said God led her to her laptop. There, she searched the words “domestic violence” and was led to a website for support.
“I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m not that girl. I’m not the teeth missing, broken bone girl,’” Andrea recalled. “But God said, ‘Keep scrolling,’ so I kept scrolling… kept scrolling. And at the end of the domestic violence awareness website, there was a questionnaire.”
That questionnaire led Andrea to answer a series of questions asking, “Has your abuser ever done…?”
Of the 17 questions, Andrea alleged, “Robert had done 15 to me.”
In the past, Buzzfeed’s Jim DeRogatis, who has been investigating the “Bump ‘n’ Grind” singer for years, published a series of bombshells reports, including one in May outlining what has been called a sex “cult” populated by Kelly’s female companions. A BBC Three documentary released in late March also explored the star’s alleged behavior with an interview with ex-girlfriend Kitti Jones — who claimed that she was “physically, mentally, verbally, and sexually” abused, too.
Reps for R. Kelly have denied any accusations, including those from Andrea, telling PEOPLE in a statement that he “has close friendships with a number of women who are strong, independent, happy, well cared for and free to come and go as they please.”
“We deny the many dark descriptions put forth by instigators and liars who have their own agenda for seeking profit and fame,” a rep said. “All of the women targeted by the current media onslaught are legal adults of sound mind and body, with their own free will. Law enforcement officials in Atlanta and Chicago previously have made ‘wellness’ visits to check on the women in question and have found everything to be safe and sound.”
If you or someone you know think they are being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now for anonymous, confidential help, available 24/7.
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