R Kelly's ex-wife speaks out about 'abusive relationship' with the rapper for the first time
Over the past few weeks, news of R Kelly's alleged abuse has dominated the media. Rumours of the matter had been circulating since the 1990s, but it was only after a recent documentary, Surviving R Kelly, that the issue seemed to be taken seriously by those in the music industry and - more importantly - by law enforcement.
During this period, many individuals who know or have worked with the singer (real name Robert Kelly) have come forward to denounce him. Meanwhile others have chosen to stay quiet, and that had included Kelly's family. As of this morning, however, that has changed.
"We're dealing with this as best as possible. It is very personal, him being my ex-husband and the father of my children," said Andrea Kelly, the artist's former wife, in an interview with Good Morning Britain.
Joan Kelly, R Kelly's daughter, was also present.
"In the beginning, Robert the person was funny, and we started out as friends. It evolved into a relationship - he was very broken, he shared intimate secrets with me about being abused as a child and his illiteracy," Andrea said. "The thing that bonded us was that my father, a Baptist preacher, put his hands on my mother. Domestic abuse isn't foreign to both of us."
Though she has this understanding, though, Andrea says she could never have sympathy for her ex-husband and his actions.
"I'm a firm believer that just because you were abused doesn't mean you have a free pass to be an abuser," she explained.
"I sit here not only as a survivor but also the mother of his children. It's very difficult to me but I know my position. I know that coming forward brings validity to these women stories so I could not say something.
"We and these women don't know each other so how could we have the same stories about the same man and not know each other."
Andrea confessed that she, too, had borne the brunt of Kelly's abusive tendencies during their marriage.
"I believe he is abusive, I cannot confirm each of these women's stories, but what rings true to my life is what I can speak on," she said. "He was abusive to me verbally, physically, emotionally, and financially."
Even today, he remains controlling and abusive by refusing to pay child support to his ex wife.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Joan has said that she finds the whole ordeal difficult to deal with.
"The situation in the blogs and all the allegations, it's very hard to digest," she said. "That's still my father and it’s a very hard situation to digest as my heart is torn into two different places. I spent years with him, so it's hard to see all those people who have been affected by someone so close to me."
Since the release of Surviving R Kelly, the musician has reportedly been placed under criminal investigation in Georgia. Investigators have been in contact with some of the women that were featured in the docuseries, and there is hope that he will face charges for the abuse - both historic and recent.
Kelly maintains that he is innocent.