I am Lizette Martinez, one of the many survivors who suffered abuse at the hands of the famous singer R.C. Kelly. The relationship started when I was only seventeen and continued into my early twenties, but the effects of everything that happened followed my whole life. I was listed in the indictment for R. Kelly’s trial in New York, and this is my story – the results of my life – what it was like to sit and wait for justice again after all this time.
On July 24thGod’, 2021, I posted on my Instagram: “I support 20 Jane Doe and John Doss in the new indictment against RSK (Robert Sylvester Kelly). I stand by survivors.”
At the time, I did not know I was Jane Doe No. 9.
A few days later, a journalist friend approached me and said he thought I might be among the twenty in the indictment. I had not yet heard from my lawyer about the request, so I did not want to assume anything. Basically, hold the nerves, hold the fear, hold the basic excitement that it really happens after so long. I waited, and on July 27thGod’ My attorney emailed me the section detailing my inclusion in the application filed by the plaintiffs.
After reading the email several times, I started crying … and crying … and crying. I was shocked, but also shocked that what happened to me was now recognized by the U.S. government. And somewhere, in the back of my mind, that voice said, There will finally be justice. Finally, it will be validated after years of bullying by people who did not want to believe me. My lawyer, Gloria Allard, said she would get back to me when she heard from the plaintiffs about the next steps.
And so the waiting game began …
A few weeks passed and I spent my time in Palm Beach, caring for my father who had just left the hospital. Connecting to it is something I have longed for most of my life, so I was excited to be there. It gave me a sense of worth, purpose and connection that I had not felt for a long time, especially in the middle of such a nerve-wracking situation. I had not heard from Gloria yet, so I kept checking the news for updates. There is no word yet.
I waited every day, wondering if I was going to get on the podium, I was as anxious as I could be. Anxiety outside the charts. Watching people get on the podium was nerve-wracking, and some seemed to favor the majority. The whole situation brought me back to his first trial in Chicago. I remember listening, I felt a lot of those feelings. Then he went down.
I do not know if I can feel this heartbreak again.
When the trial continued, I returned home but could not get out of bed. I traveled to Puerto Rico to see family and friends, trying to distract myself, be healthier, see people I love and feel better. But I kept experiencing terrible panic attacks. I would get in the car and start thinking about the trial, about the past, about my part in the indictment, and my heart would start running around with all sorts of thoughts. They all ended up in the same scary loop: What if they called me to the podium?
It was awful because until the end I was worried about calling me. Just this extreme anxiety of not knowing, always on the edge, not knowing if your whole life is going to be disrupted. Everything is kept confidential so you do not know in advance if you are going. You sit there and wonder: Are they going to call me the night before? Am I going to get on a plane and get to trial the next day? Will I look to Rob tomorrow for the first time in years? you do not know. I heard from some journalists that my name was raised at the meeting, so the tension worsened.
For a while I went through a stage that I did not want to be called at all, because my mental health was not normal. I did not even know how I would dress to walk, and less to be coherent. I was so deeply depressed. Anxious, I did not know how I would react when I stood there in front of my abuser. I thought I would break up and not be able to do it. It scared me. Knowing that something could break your mental health completely? It is much.
But then I watched the trial and heard the other women go up there, and I realized that if they could do it, I could do it too. These women who were brave enough to stand up and be so real and strong – they made me feel stronger.
In the end, I was ready. Willing to say my piece to the world, but more importantly, to Robert Kelly. Until the last few days, I wanted to tell most of the time how I feel about all this – how he hurt me and so many other people. And how I hope he sat with himself for the rest of his life, and thought about it. Because that was not supposed to happen. None of this had to happen.
Then came the gospel that brings a whole new era for so many women: R. Kelly was found guilty on all counts.