Andrea Kelly Speaks On Bullying Her Children Faced, Why She’s Sharing Her Story Now, & Healing From Her Marriage To R. Kelly
I was really hoping after Andrea Kelly’s sit down interview with Syleena Johnson on “Sister Circle,” that she would share more about her journey with her ex-husband Robert Kelly, (R. Kelly). And this morning, I stumbled upon a random YouTube video that shows that she really did. In a sit-down interview with V103, Andrea Kelly spoke about how she’s healed from her relationship with Kelly, why she’s speaking out now, the devastation and bullying her children experienced and encouragement for other women. You can read her comments and watch the interview in its entirety below.
A second chance at life
I have a lot to be happy about. A lot of us in life, we get one time at this thing and God was like, ‘You know what daughter, I’m gon’ give you two. So I have so much to be happy for and I’m on this side of the grass. So enjoy it, you know?
I don’t take it for granted. Everything that I’ve been through, I thank God I don’t wear it on my spirit because a lot of women they just wear it on them. You can see it on their face and their spirit, and the brokenness. And I’ve been through a lot but I live by my own mantra. I have cracks but I’m not broken. I will never let anything break me. No man, no situation, nothing will ever break me.
How do you not think about all of the bad things that have happened to you?
I’m real! Because when they say think positive, you’re like ‘I’m positively going to bust your head ’til the white meat.’ Sometimes that is the realness in it. But the positivity comes from, and I’ve taught my children this, ’Your worse is always someone’s better.’ On your very worse day, remember somebody else would say, ‘I would love to have that raggedy car that you’re not happy about.’ ‘I would love to have that one bedroom apartment that you’re complaining that you want a house. Even the abuse I’ve survived. My worse is someone’s better. Someone on Mother’s Day goes to put flowers on a grave. They didn’t make it out of it. I did. So that’s what I live by, day by day.
So, do I have hard times? Absolutely because I’m human. But I like I said, I understand I’m also a vessel and there’s a difference. Some people are just walking around as humans. And no disrespect, not to say they’re any less, it’s different when you know God uses you as a vessel. My strength comes from Him, not in my own power.
What’s going on in your head when you hear all the things about R. Kelly?
Oh gosh! Besides going through the child pornography case and a divorce at the same time—and let me clear that up too. A lot of people think that I left in 2009. No, our divorce was final in 2009. I was gone almost five years before that, living in my own house, with my children. Because I was like, ‘I can’t do abuse and this court case. I cannot. I will not do both.’ So, finally getting to a place where I had a little bit of normalcy, that I’m coming out of the shadows, I’m making a name for myself. It seemed like, ‘Really, we getting ready to go through hell the remix? We getting ready to do this all over again?’ It got to a point that I was like, ‘Ok God, I’ma really need to understand…’ It really did feel like that. ‘Are you kidding me right now? This is what we’re getting ready to do again?’
Being a mother and going through it. Very difficult. My children have to deal with this. And we had already been through that, the devastation of going through that.
My daughter, she just shared with me, my oldest is 20 now, and in middle school, they had a day where they all had to come in and read. So the little boy mate in class as Joann goes up to read, he says, ‘Oh well, Joanne does your daddy pee on you at night instead of read you bedtime stories.’ She never told me this until two years ago and she shared that with me.
Then I was privy to information my daughter was like, ‘One day mom we were at lunch and one of the little girls said, ‘You can’t sit with us because my mom said your dad rapes little girls.’
So the devastation of going through that as a mother. You try to protect your children from so much. I felt like the abuse I was able to shield them from and I was able to somehow justify because it was just toward me, it was never toward my children. I want to make that clear, he never physically abused my children. But this was a situation where I was like, ‘Whoa. I can’t protect them from this because now this is the outside world.’ But looking back on it, it has given them a tough skin. It has also taught them a tough lesson that no matter what your father does, good, bad or indifferent, you are an individual. You hold your head up high. I’m not going to pull you out of school. Because the reality is, everyone’s not going to be nice. Everyone’s not going to be your friend. But I also told them the flip side of it is, the world is going to offer you things just because your last name is Kelly and then they’re going to take things away from you because your last name is Kelly. You have to make your way in this world on your own.
Is he involved with them now?
No. No. And I’m very real about that. And I’m gonna look at the camera on this one. At the end of the day, child support is being there mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, so you sending a check every month, is called child funding. That’s not child support. When you support your child, you are there through their turmoil. You’re there through their good and their bad. You’re there to pray them through, you’re there to guide them through. Not let them be standerbys and watch hear it on the internet and get it through media like the rest of the world. That’s not child support.
What part of the abuse kept you in it so long? Was it a power, a fear, was it the children? When you started to see it, what kept you there?
Well, first I want to say everyone has a tree. I’m working on my curriculum about this. The root of my tree was the first time I was exposed to this was through my grandfather and he was a Baptist preacher. So God, love and pain were all one to me at a very young age. So to see the man of the cloth do it…the same hands that you use to pull out demons, bless people and christen babies are the same hands you use to choke the life out of my grandmother. So to me, abuse wasn’t anything foreign. And it’s not so much what my grandfather did that changed me, it’s what my grandmother didn’t do. Because the next day she got up and made breakfast like that day never happened. So I learned at a very young age, ‘Oh, if a man of the cloth can do this, this has got to be normal. This is what love is.’
So I often say my grandfather and being exposed to it around six or seven, was the root of my tree, Robert just happened to be the fruit of my tree. Because when I got in a relationship with him, and it’s abusive, ‘Oh this isn’t foreign to me.’ This isn’t something where I go ‘Hold on, this isn’t normal.’ It’s like ‘Oh you’re like my grandfather.’ And in my life, it was Jesus, my grandfather and my dad. That was the hierarchy of life to me. So to be exposed to that, it opened me up to that.
There’s no real pinpoint for you to say this is the day it became abusive. I think people need to also understand that the physical is the aftermath of all the abuse you’ve already been in. First, you go through the emotional, the verbal, the psychological, the monetary, controlling the money. The sexual abuse. The physical is really there to keep you in fear of them. The physical is there to let you know that there is a punishment and repercussion for me not controlling you. So in that, there’s no real way for you to go, ‘Oh it was the first day he hit me.’ And that’s what I want women to understand, they have that it’s not that bad mentality. ‘Oh well he just screamed at me, it’s not that bad.’ Then when he grabs your arm. ‘But he just grabbed my arm, it’s not that bad.’ But then when he slapped you, ‘But he didn’t punch me so it’s not that bad.’ Then when he punches you, ‘But he never broke a bone so it’s not that bad.’ So before you get to the point where it’s that bad, you have to look back at how long you’ve actually been in it.
It took a long time to get to this point. A lot of people are like, ‘Well why now?’ Why not now? You don’t get to dictate my healing process. I was in a very dark place for a very long time. So if it took me ten years to get in it, it might take me ten years to get out of it. So I don’t understand people’s thinking process of ‘Well, it happened so long ago, why is she talking about it now?’ How can I be powerful for the powerless when I don’t have my own power yet? How can I be a voice for the voiceless when I haven’t found my own voice yet? I had to go through my healing process. I had to build up my self-worth. I had to get to a point where I can speak about this without shame. How can I do that and be authentic and true and be a vessel and be a hypocrite at the same time? That’s just not me. I cannot do it.
And I had to wait for God to say move because a lot of times we make decisions and do things without God’s approval and that’s when it’s crash and burn. Because I have children. Me coming out is not just Drea Kelly coming out, it’s people hitting my children on Twitter, I didn’t know your dad hit your mom. So I had to make sure mentally, emotionally they could handle it. And when they said, ‘Mom, we support you. Do what you gotta do. We love you.’ I was like, ‘Alright God and my kids, now it’s time.’ And I’m not here to satisfy other people’s curiosity about my life. I’m here to tell my journey. There’s a difference. When you want your curiosity satisfied, you think that I’m going to bash him and tell details and stories, you can go on blogs to see all that. This is about a healing journey and that’s what I want to share.
The other women who’ve been abused
It’s been a decade since Robert and I have been apart. So this man today, I don’t even know this man. Even everything I went through with him, I’m like, ‘Now, I didn’t think…did it get “worser?” Wait a minute, now. I don’t know this man. But what I do know is when stuff started coming to me and people started DMing me—because of being on television you don’t know who’s real or fake. You don’t know who’s trolling. You don’t know who’s sending you spam. I don’t know what’s real. But then I started seeing things that rang true to my gut, that rang true to my story, that rang true to what I have survived. And that’s when I was like ‘Ok God, you are showing me the other side.’ Because before, allegations. I don’t deal with him so I don’t know if it’s real or not. I don’t communicate with him. The truth needs no defense and if I can read something and go ‘That happened to me. She not lying about that.’ That’s when I was like, ‘Ok.’
Did she ever suggest professional help?
Yeah but I can’t want your healing more than you do. So it doesn’t matter if I sit here all day, everyday until I’m blue in the face and tell you what you need. If you feel you don’t need it and you don’t want it, I can’t want your healing for you. I can’t heal you. And for a while, I was guilty of taking on a God complex. ‘I can pray him through it. You’re going to get better.’ And dealing with his abuse as a child. But then I had to realize, ‘Drea, you have to deal with little Drea yourself. You all are two people drowning. Somebody has to go to shore and get help or you’re both going to drown. So I got to the point, I was like I’ve done all I can do. And if you don’t want it, that is fine. But I’m not going to sit in this with you. I want better for me and my children. And that is his personal choice. Do I think he needs it? Absolutely. Do I think there are people in his life that like to sugarcoat and help to facilitate? Absolutely. But again, you have to be real with yourself and be like, ‘I don’t care how much y’all sit here and agree with me that the sky is purple. I know it’s blue.’ But you have to have somebody in your life to say, ‘I’m not going to sit here and tell you the sky is purple just because you want me to.’
What people don’t know is when I first got with Robert, he was not huge like that. He had just left Public Announcement and he was on his first album so I was with him as his career grew. A lot of people don’t like when I say this and this is ok because I don’t care. At the end of the day, he didn’t have a Grammy before he met me and he hasn’t had one since I been gone. And that doesn’t speak to his genius and what he does in his music, that is a gift. Will not take that away from him. But you also have to look at the influence behind your music, what drives a man. Typically, his success is measured by his family, his children, his community so I know what I brought into his life. And you can see the difference from when we were together he was making music like “I Believe I Can Fly,” “Happy People,” “Step in the Name of Love.” I’m gone, we’re back to “cracking backs like lobsters” and “Black Panties.” So you can see where the influence I had on his life. So for me, watching that growth was amazing. Because it was like ‘Ok, I’m not just here as a celebrities wife, I’m really an asset to this man’s life. My prayers are being answered on his life. My work that I’m putting in, into building this man God is actually letting me see his work. So I was very proud of him. But at the same time, I’m not your servant and I will not be taken for granted.
Why she’s speaking out?
It’s not Drea. I’m a vessel. This has nothing to do with Drea. People have said, ‘Well she’s been quiet because she got money. Now she’s coming out because she need money.’ There’s not a price tag in the world that would have me put myself back in this position, in the spotlight, deal with the scrutiny, take on the rumors, the press, the blogs…Who in their right mind would do it? But I know that it’s needed. And I had to. I’m doing it for the voiceless. I’m doing it for the women who are afraid. I’m doing it for the women who got out and now don’t know what to do. Often times, we tell women just leave. But nobody tells you what happens when you leave. Some of these women don’t even know how to open a bank account. How do I sign a lease? How do I get an apartment? What do I do to get my first car? How do I get health insurance? These are things that they don’t tell women. They just say leave. Where am I going when I leave? Where do I find help? How do I get a counselor? And if he’s controlling all the money, where do I get money to get a counselor?
I also want to be a voice for Black men. Because my dad, my uncles, my brothers, I have really great men in my life. And a lot of times women go through this and they come out so jaded and so broken. I believe in love. I still believe in the sanctity of marriage. and I still believe that there are great men out there that love on us as Black women. They’re great fathers, grandfathers, uncles, coaches. So I think women need to see the other side of it. It’s not ‘Oh for the rest of your life you’re going to victim.’ No, you can be a victor! And you can smile and really go at this thing with your whole heart and being. But know that you’re going to have days where you wish you don’t wake up. Because I still do. But I know I have to because there’s somebody watching behind me ‘If Drea Kelly can do it, I can do it.’
And I want to be a voice to say, ‘Girl, if I can leave R. Kelly mansions and drivers, you can leave Darnell a bus pass and no job.’