‘How I escaped my abusive relationship with R Kelly’ – Asante McGee

For two years, Asante McGee was a girlfriend of the now-disgraced R&B superstar, R Kelly, but in the summer of 2016 she went to live in his house in Georgia. There were other women there, she discovered – and very strict rules.

Whenever I was in my room alone, that was when I would call home to speak to my children, as when I was with Robert, he didn’t want us to have our phones and have contact with the outside world.

When I met Robert, or rather R Kelly, it wasn’t like meeting Prince Charming who swept me off my feet. He didn’t wine and dine me, he was just a warm and funny guy. We did normal stuff; he took me shopping and we enjoyed having dinners together.

But there was a moment during a text exchange in 2014 when I think I should have known things weren’t what they seemed. It was really early on in our relationship and I texted him, addressing him as Rob and he said: “No, can you just call me Daddy.” There was no discussion – he just told me his demand. When I look back at that moment, reading the text message in my car, I should have questioned it. I should have seen his behaviour in that moment as a red flag.

I was first introduced to R Kelly in September 2013 by a member of his entourage, when he was performing in a club in Atlanta to promote his next tour. However, we had a proper introduction in January 2014.

A member of his entourage invited me to hang out with R Kelly and some of his friends. We went to the mall and we laughed and talked. We just hung out like two old friends. Before I left, he gave me his number and we immediately started texting each other.

We texted for weeks and one day he invited me to his concert in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which was being held on February 13. After watching him perform on stage, he invited me back to his hotel room and we had our first sexual encounter.

After Valentine’s Day, we kept in contact through text messages and he began inviting me to different concerts across America, and when he visited Atlanta, where I lived, I would stay with him from time to time.

While we were in a relationship together, he made it clear that I wasn’t the only woman he was seeing. The fact that he told me he was dating and sleeping with other women, it made me feel like he was doing his best to be honest with me, so I accepted that and decided to stay in the relationship.

For the first two years of our relationship, everything was great. I would fly out and see him perform, and we would spend time together – and it worked for both of us.

On the Easter weekend of March 2016, he flew me out to Chicago, but I didn’t hear from him for two days and then when I finally heard from him, he had someone come and pick me up to take me to the studio where he was recording.

However, I ended up being locked in a van from 11 o’clock in the morning to eight o’clock at night. When I was let out of the van, by members of his entourage and nephew, I found R Kelly partying in the studio as if nothing had happened. He acted completely normal, but months later, I found out that locking me in a van was a test. He was testing my boundaries and playing mind games.

Then in May 2016, I flew to watch him perform in Dallas. After the concert, one of his assistants said you need to hurry up and get your clothes from the hotel.

I got my clothes and got into the van which was supposed to take me to Oklahoma, so I could catch a flight home to Atlanta, but the bus never stopped. We ended up in a huge house in John’s Creek, Georgia. When I got off the bus and walked into the house, Robert said: “Welcome home, baby.”

He gave me a tour of the house, showed me my room. So I thought I’d stay for the summer because my kids were staying with family for the holidays, which happens every year. So with my kids not going back to school until the end of August, I thought, “OK, I can stay and spend some time with him for a few extra weeks.” It was never a permanent arrangement in my mind.

As soon as I moved in, he started inflicting both emotional and sexual abuse. No, he didn’t force me to have sex with him, but he intimidated me to commit sexual acts and have threesomes with other women when I made it clear that I wasn’t comfortable.

If I said I didn’t want to do something he would shout at me and call me “stupid”. He would tell me that the other girls who were also visiting or living in the house at the time with us had no problem with his sexual requests, so what was my problem? I felt degraded by his actions and his desires.

BBC