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When demons of abuse, absentee fathers strike

The disturbing docu-series Surviving R Kelly continues to elicit varied reactions. The documentary compromises more than 50 interviews with Kelly’s brothers, former collaborators and even his alleged victim sharing the dark side of the artist.

Celebrated as one of the greatest R&B singers, the 51-year-old entertainer’s career has been riddled with rumours of abuse, paedophilia and other predatory behaviour.

The shocking thing is that none of the accusations seem to affect him despite the damning evidence and multiple witnesses.

I join the voice of many who condemn his actions. But after much thought, I began to think about the effects of child abuse and absentee fathers in creating societal misfits.

Digging deeper into Robert Kelly’s background, I discovered that he was raised by a single mother and was sexually abused at a young age by a woman who was ten years older than him.

Most research indicates that forcing sexual acts on other children as well as unusual sexual behaviour are some of the effects of child abuse. Other effects include obsessions as well as low self esteem, anger and antisocial behaviour.

Could it be that R Kelly is secretly struggling with his childhood pains? The pain of sexual abuse and the pain of growing up without a father?

Could it be that he abuses women and children simply because he is angry that a woman violated his childhood? Could it be that he thought that time would heal all but as time went by, it grew worse?

This may explain the double-minded — sometimes he felt at peace with God and other times a demon — nature of his songs. 

In my opinion, R. Kelly is the manifestation of how sexual abuse and lack of a strong father figure in childhood can affect an adult. R. Kelly represents the many men looking all groomed up but inside are dealing with childhood demons.

A father brings protection, stability, security and affirmation. That is not to say single mothers are not doing a good job.

Such stories should, however, make us reflect as a society on the role of the family in ensuring that the nation has sound citizens.

The issue of paedophiles is not just American, it is global.  It’s high time people understood the consequences of their actions and how they affect society. You sexually violate a child and they don’t heal. Their anger, if time does not heal, will one day affect society. You leave a woman who bears your son, you never know what your absence will do to his life.

Parents should be vigilant about their children’s experiences. The seed of pain sown in their childhood will be difficult to uproot once they grow up.

Maybe the R-Kelly docu-series will hopefully open our eyes to how the family unit plays a significant role in preparing sound adults in the society.  —The writer is a social commentator

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