This is what one of R. Kelly’s survivors says most people misunderstood about her abusive situation

Thanks in part to the recent Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, R. Kelly’s alleged victims are finally getting a voice. And in a recent episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook show Red Table Talk, Lisa Van Allen, one of Kelly’s accusers, opened up about the misconceptions many have about the abuse she experienced.

According to USA Today, for the interview,Van Allen sat down with mother-daughter-grandmother trio Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Jones, along with Candice Norcott, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago School of Medicine. In a clip from the two-part episode, Van Allen recalled having threesomes with Kelly and underage girls when she was 17—even though it made her uncomfortable.

She noted that people often ask her why she didn’t turn Kelly in at the time. “People say, ‘[…] why didn’t you turn him in?’ Because I loved him. I wanted to help him get better first because that’s how we work as far as love goes. […] Once I realized he couldn’t be saved—he didn’t want to be saved—he would tell me things like, ‘My mama told me if you love a man, you don’t try to change him.’ The older I got, it was like, ‘Boy, that’s some bull.’”

Pinkett Smith pointed out that Van Allen was in many ways still a child herself at the time.

"Exactly," she replied. "People don't understand, I was 17. When I started noticing that he was a liar and a manipulator was when I started putting things together that didn't add up, like when I found out the girl was younger. And I'm like 'why would he do that?' Things like that are when I started really really questioning him."

She continued by saying that at the time, she was willing to please Kelly even in ways that made her uncomfortable.

"I have a thing I say now to young girls or girls in general: Love yourself first," Van Allen said. "Because that was the problem. I was putting his feelings before mine. I didn't care that it bothered me. I didn't care that I cried and I was upset and I had to share someone I loved with other women. I wanted him to be happy."

The reports of Kelly’s abuse are harrowing, and we’re grateful to survivors like Van Allen for sharing their stories. You can catch the first part of Van Allen’s Red Table Talk interview today, January 11th, and the second part on Monday, January 14th.

If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual abuse, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

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