R Kelly docu-series sparked surge in calls to sexual assault hotlines

R. Kelly (Robert Sylvester Kelly) - American singer, songwriter, record producer, Photo Date: 2/26/2017

GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT)- (01/07/19) - He's superstar singer with a huge following, but R Kelly is in the spotlight nowadays for much more disturbing reasons.

A Lifetime network documentary that is alleging abuse against women and girls at the hands of Kelly has been eye-opening for many viewers.

Like in the sexual abuse allegations against disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar and now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh -- which did not lead to criminal prosecution -- highlighting years alleged sexual abuse by Kelly has caused a surge of survivors with similar stories to speak out.

"Cases like this, the R Kelly case, anything that's a national highlight regarding sexual assault is definitely kind of an open door opportunity for survivors to know that they're not alone," said Ann Kita, director of YWCA domestic violence and sexual assault services in Genesee County.

Kita was surprised by the reaction to the documentary.

"We are all vulnerable to some level at different times in our lives, so to say to the person who assaulted them is somebody who has some power and control and getting those dynamics understood that they meaning the survivor can reach out and say this happened to me, I don't have to be ashamed about it anymore," she said.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, since the six-part series began airing, their hotline has received a more than 20 percent increase in the number of calls than it had the week before.

"It's not uncommon for that to occur," Kita said. "Actually we like to see the those calls though, because we know that there are survivors out there who don't feel that they can gain the support that's so needed for them and deserving for them."

Kelly's first documented case of abuse goes back to 2008. Kita said it's never too late seek help and discuss what happened.

"The more we learn from the survivors, the better off the community will be," she said.

The YWCA Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services 24-hour crisis line can be reached at (810)238-7233.

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