R. Kelly Accuser Lisa Van Allen on #MeToo Shift, Response to Lifetime Docuseries
"I say there was a me before #MeToo because in 2008 there weren't any movements. Nobody else was talking about it, and I came out hoping that I could help the victims," she said on Jada Pinkett Smith's Facebook Watch series 'Red Table Talk' about why she first spoke out against Kelly.
Lisa Van Allen opened up about the response to the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly in a two-part special episode of Jada Pinkett-Smith's Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk.
Van Allen, who began a relationship with Kelly when she was 17, told Pinkett-Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Jones that she felt "blessed" by the support she's received since coming forward with her experience. "We didn't expect it to be this powerful," she said. "I came out in 2008, and nobody heard me."
She first met the singer on set of a music video. Though he knew she was underage, Kelly began a sexual relationship with her. "I didn't assume he liked younger girls. At the moment, I thought he just liked me," she explained.
"The reaction has been so different this time around. I feel blessed, and I feel like I'm a vessel to speak out for other young girls, 'cause we’ve always been told, 'You don't talk about that. You don't tell our business. Don't tell our business,'" she said.
Van Allen explained to the hosts why she felt it was important to speak out. "I had to do it for me, for other young girls. Someone has to have that conversation that nobody wants to have," she said. "You can't worry about how you look, you know what I mean. You have to put it on the line. You have to put it out there, and that's what I felt like I did."
In the docuseries, Van Allen detailed her involvement with a sex tape that featured her, Kelly and a 14-year-old girl, who she believed was 16 at the time. Kelly allegedly coerced her into engaging in a number of threesomes, even though she had no interest in participating.
The 14-year-old in Van Allen and Kelly's sex tape is allegedly the same person that was featured in a separate sex tape that featured Kelly urinating on the underage girl. Van Allen later testified against Kelly when he went to court after being indicted on 21 counts of child pornography.
"I say there was a me before #MeToo because in 2008 there weren't any movements. Nobody else was talking about it, and I came out hoping that I could help the victims and the girl in the tape, because I knew her family wasn't going to speak, so I was like, somebody needs to stand up," she said on Red Table Talk.
Pinkett-Smith noted that when news of the sex tape first broke, many people didn't acknowledge that the two girls involved were minors.
"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," said Van Allen.
"People say, 'Once they found out she was 14, 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," she continued. "I’m not going to call the cops on someone I love. I’m going to try to figure out how to help you and what I can do to save you."
"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,'" she said. "The older I got it was like, 'Boy, that’s some bull.'"
Van Allen also revealed on the show that she had been sexually abused for the first six years of her life while she was in the foster system. "He was the first person I told about my abuse," she said of R. Kelly, adding that she believes he used her past trauma to manipulate her.
"He told me all of his personal problems and turmoils. And that’s part of it, because when he did that I felt I was so special," she said. "Like, now I can tell him what I’ve been through, let my guard down. He’s a master manipulator. He says what he needs to say to get what he wants done. He knew my whole background."
Van Allen also explained that it was difficult for her to leave Kelly because he offered her a sense of protection. “One time when I was allowed to go home and I got into it with some girls, and he made it go away. 'I’ll protect you; you gotta protect me,'” she said. “He had a thing called pins and eyeballs: 'No matter if they stick pins in your eyeballs, you don’t talk about what we got going on.'”
The second part of Van Allen's Red Table Talk interview aired on Monday.
During the interview, Van Allen said she spent much of her life questioning why her birth parents gave her up. Pinkett-Smith then asked if her relationship with Kelly gave her a false sense of security.
"It was misguided, but that's what I thought it was," she said. ";Cause I didn't know. To not have any male role models. How would you know what the love of a male is supposed to be like? You know, I was really pushing for it. I wanted it."
Van Allen's 16-year-old daughter, Akeyla, and psychologist Candice Norcott were also featured on Monday's portion of the show.
Norcott, who appeared in the docuseries, later used the term "adultification" to explain why people were so accepting of Kelly's relationship with younger women.
"What we do with girls is that when they start developing, we treat them as adults, and when you add race on top of that, what we know is that you see adolescence and children as less innocent -- black adolescence. For boys it starts at 10, but for girls it starts at 5," she explained. "When you're thinking about people saying, 'Well, they're grown, so they know what they're doing. They're in the studio. You know, she's standing there seeming like she likes it.' We as a society are acting like these girls are willing, and we have to own that. We have to recognize how we're complicit."
"Just seeing them as more responsible, less innocent, more responsible for themselves than their white counterpart," she continued. "You see that with judges not using their discretion when they're sentencing. You see that with police officers, resource officers in schools 'disciplining' black girls."