R. Kelly’s ex-wife Andrea “Drea” Kelly and daughter Buku Abi have had a difficult time contending with the allegations surrounding the singer
“We’re dealing with it as best as possible,” Andrea, who was married to Kelly for 13 years and is the mother of his three children, said on Monday’s episode of Good Morning Britain.
“I don’t think people have a clear understanding that we’re dealing with two people here – there’s R. Kelly the persona and then there’s Robert the person. Myself and my daughter, we’re connected to Robert the person. So it is very personal, him being my ex-husband, and the father of my children,” she shared.
Drea, who was one of many women who took part in Lifetime’s docu-series Surviving R. Kelly, which features interviews with individuals who claim that for decades the hit-making singer and producer used his power and influence to sexually and physically abuse women and young girls, went on to add that while contending with all of the allegations surrounding the singer is “difficult…I think that [it] is needed.”
“It’s saving lives, it’s changing lives and we stand in the gap,” she shared, adding that while she can’t speak out on the validity of all of the allegations, she does “believe that he is abusive.”
“I can only speak to my truth and my truth is what I survived – he was abusive to me verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually and as we stand today, he’s financially abusing me. He stopped paying child support when I came forward in June of 2018,” Drea remarked.
Abi — whose real name is Joann Kelly — went on to share that “it’s very hard to digest” the intense scrutiny her father has been under since the docuseries aired.
“My heart is torn into two separate places,” the 21-year-old singer-songwriter shared. “It’s very painful to see that all of these people are now being affected and have been affected by somebody who I do care about and have a very strenuous relationship with.”
“I do still love my father. That’s something I want people to understand,” she continued, referring to an emotional message she posted on social media earlier this month, condemning her “terrible” father and calling him a “monster.”
“I never came out and said what I said to make people feel like I hate him or I’m bashing him because that’s not it,” Abi, who has not spoken with Kelly in years, continued. “But if my father’s a toxic person then unfortunately we have to love him from a distance. There’s no love lost but I just had to separate myself.”
When reached for comment, Mr. Kelly’s lawyer referred PEOPLE to the statement he’d previously given to Good Morning Britain: “Mr. Kelly loves all of his children and would love to see them. Drea’s allegations were fully investigated and determined to be unfounded and rejected by the judge during their divorce and are without merit.”
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The interview comes just days after another woman came forward to accuse Kelly of sexual abuse, telling NBC News’ Dateline that her relationship with Kelly began when she was a 16-year-old intern at Epic Records in 1999.
During the interview, Tracy Sampson went on to recall one alleged incident, in which Kelly asked to kiss her — a request she said she refused. “He’s like, ‘Okay, well, give me a hug.’ And then, like, when I gave him a hug he just started kissing me.”
Sampson said that she ended things with the singer when she turned 18, accusing him of sexual abuse.
Kelly’s attorney also appeared on the program and affirmed that the singer believes that “every one” of his accusers is lying.
If you or someone you know think they are being abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now for anonymous, confidential help, available 24/7.