Once one of R&B’s biggest names, US singer R Kelly was found guilty on all of nine counts against him related to sex crimes committed over the course of more than two decades, the BBC reports.
He was convicted of eight counts of sex trafficking and one count of racketeering, which featured his exploitation of his superstar status to run a scheme to sexually abuse women and children. He faces life in prison at a sentencing date in May.
Many of the survivors were black girls and boys, and 11 of them offered testimony at the trial. “I’m ready to start living my life free from fear and to start the healing process,” one woman, identified in court as Sonja, was quoted as saying.
About one in four women are sexually abused, with Black girls being particularly targeted. One in four Black girls are sexually abused by their 18th birthday. To make matters worse, many of them don’t report the abuse to authorities.
“For every Black woman who reports a rape, at least 15 Black women do not report to police; though two-thirds report to informal systems, such as family and friends,” writes Apryl Alexander, a forensic psychology professor at the University of Denver, in The Colorado Sun.
Black women, on top of the sexual abuse, also are targeted by racial prejudice and discrimination, which undoubtedly adds to the tendency not to report sex crimes. Other factors include
- fear of retaliation from the criminal and the community
- shame, loyalty to their race in cases of intraracial sexual violence
- other experiences of oppression in their lives
- fear of insults, name-calling, and threats to physical safety
“We know from the adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) literature that a survivor’s lifespan is reduced by 20 years if they have six of more ACEs,” she concludes. “As we’ve seen with the ‘strong Black woman’ trope, Black girls and women are often taught to protect others at the risk to their own health and well-being.”