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R Kelly Opens Up About Childhood Sexual Abuse, Marriage to Aaliyah

LOS ANGELES - NOV 24:  R. Kelly at the 2013 American Music AwardWith the massive success of his song, “I Believe I Can Fly,” from the Space Jam soundtrack, R Kelly became, arguably, one of the biggest entertainers in the world overnight. Unfortunately, over the years, he’s become just as known for his possible inappropriate behavior with underage girls as he is for his music. While he’s largely denied that he’s ever done anything wrong, we now may have a little more insight into what’s been going on inside his personal world.

Past Sexual Abuse

Many of his fans were shocked when the 49-year-old opened up to GQ about the sexual abuse he endured early in his life. Of course, those who read his 2012 memoir, Soulacoaster, are already familiar with most of what he had to say. It’s a sad and tragic story all the same.

The singer alleges that from the age of “7 or 8 to maybe 14, 15” a blood relative regularly abused him. He explained: “I remember it feeling weird. I remember feeling ashamed. I remember closing my eyes or keeping my hands over my eyes. I remember those things, but couldn’t judge it one way or the other fully.”

Some may wonder what happens to victims of sexual abuse as they mature, grow accustomed to the abuse or go through puberty. R Kelly echoed what many other survivors have reluctantly admitted: “Over time, yeah, [it changed]. I remember actually, after a couple of years, looking forward to it sometimes. You know, acting like I didn’t, but did.” Fortunately, the abuse came to an end when he got a girlfriend.

Abuser Denied Everything

As he got older, the singer explains that he knew that what was happening wasn’t right. When he started acting less upset about it, his abuser allegedly became less interested and was possibly scared by his more accepting, anticipatory attitude.

Eventually, about eight years ago, R Kelly says that he tried to talk to the female relative about it but she “didn’t own up to it.” Rather than trying to pursue the matter criminally, he says that he forgives her and does not want to see her punished for molesting him.

He explained: “As I’m older, I look at it and I know that it had to be not just about me and them, but them and somebody older than them when they were younger, and whatever happened to them when they were younger. I looked at it as if there was a sort of like, I don’t know, a generational curse, so to speak, going down through the family. Not just started with her doing that to me.”

The artist did acknowledge one aspect of the abuse that was particularly damaging. He said that “it teaches you to definitely be sexual earlier than you should have, than you’re supposed to. You know, no different than putting a loaded gun in a kid’s hand – he gonna grow up being a shooter, probably. I think it affects you tremendously when that happens at an early age. … Your hormones are up more than they would normally be. Mine was.”

Marriage to Aaliyah

In the mid-1990s, Vibe magazine claimed to have secured a marriage certificate showing that R Kelly had married his much younger protegée, Aaliyah. It was falsely claimed that the young singer was 18 years old when, in fact, she was actually only 15. Her reported husband was 27 years old at the time. The union was eventually annulled and neither spoke of the relationship. Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.

During the sit down with GQ, R Kelly admitted that he had been “in love” with the late singer and “absolutely” believes that the feelings were mutual. “Well, there’s a lot of ways to be in love with a person,” he explains. “I was in love with my grandfather, you know. But yeah, I would say I was in love with Aaliyah just like I was in love with anybody else. But in a different, friend type of way.”

When asked about their marriage, he declined out of respect for Aaliyah and her family. When asked if he felt like he did anything wrong or if he “feels bad” about the situation, his reply was very clear: “Absolutely not,” he said. “Absolutely not. That’s my answer forever: Absolutely not.”

R Kelly Opens Up About Childhood Sexual Abuse, Marriage to Aaliyah

Jeanne Croteau

Jeanne has been a celebrity blogger for eight years and also teaches psychology at the college level. In addition to her passion for mental health, she is an avid reader, hockey fan and mother of four.

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APA Reference
Croteau, J. (2016). R Kelly Opens Up About Childhood Sexual Abuse, Marriage to Aaliyah. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Jan 2016
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