Trigger Warning- Sexual trauma/Assault
Surviving R. Kelly chronicles the stories of multiple women who survived his
predatory behavior. These women detail R. Kelly’s disturbing strategy to exploit
young girls (stated purposely because young women, they are not), and how the
music industry played an integral part in his systematic targeting of vulnerable
groups. At the interplay of race and gender, there are concerns of power and money.
Using the perfect combination of fear and influence, this man has gone without
reprimand or consequence. His execution, much like his music, was immaculate.
Because of his history of hits and club bangers, some individuals believe his acts
cannot coexist with his artistry. Yet, they do. For you, the black girl or black person
struggling with your survival story, this time of media coverage may be especially
triggering. What do you do when the writer of your favorite songs also rewrote the
childhoods of many into darkness? What do you do when family member X ardently
supports a child predator just because they know every word of “I Believe I Can
As a trauma survivor and trauma therapist, being at the crux of the work can be
exhausting. Many will tell you to speak up or speak out, but that may not be
therapeutic for you. I encourage you to check in with yourself about your specific
needs, whether they include expanding or contracting your boundaries.
It is OK to take a break from social media. Acknowledging the pressures of being
“woke” about black communal issues is a part of understanding cultural context, but
sleep is a form of self-care. You don’t HAVE to know everything about everything.
Turning off social media, news, and access to you may be your self-care regimen of
choice. Connecting to family, friends, and partner(s) that you trust might be how you
stay sane, but whatever you do, take care of you first.
One thing I’ve offered my clients during this time is more grounding tools.
Grounding is a form of coping that includes managing intense emotional feelings
while being present in the moment. Trauma is a metaphysical injury that tells the
brain that a traumatic event is happening now, rather than when it actually
occurred. Reminding your mind of present details can help refocus the brain on the
moment. Specifically, grounding tools may include concentrating on the main five
senses. What do you see right now? What are you hearing? Smelling? Channel into
this very moment.
More than anything, get in touch with a trauma therapist for continued growth and
maintenance. You are not alone, and there are a number of highly skilled clinicians
that are willing and ready to support you through your journey. Personally, I seek to
help my clients not only survive their trauma (they’ve already done that), but to
thrive in life. Surviving is no longer enough.