A Florida woman says she almost died after catching a bout of mononucleosis from R. Kelly when she was in what she described as an intensely abusive relationship with the singer in the 1990s.
Lizette Martinez, now 41, detailed the abuse in a searing interview for the Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly, a six-part series covering decades of alleged abuse of teenagers and young women by the R&B singer, who was actually married to Andrea Kelly (formerly Andrea Lee) during some of their relationship.
Martinez was just 17 when she and a girlfriend spotted Kelly roaming around a Florida shopping mall, and they almost didn’t believe their eyes, she says. But was indeed him, and the singer noticed Martinez immediately, she told interviewers.
“Here’s this person that I thought was the world, and then he walked up and gave me a hug, and I was kind of frozen,” Martinez says.
Kelly told the teens he was recording an album and walked off, but a moment later, one of his bodyguards walked over and handed them the singer’s phone number, Martinez recalled.
“He told me he was recording an album, and I was like ‘okay, nice to meet you’ and then he left,” she says. “But his bodyguard came back and handed me his phone number and said ‘R. Kelly would like you to call him.’ My best friend was with me and she said, ‘Liz this is your big break! Like, you better call or I’m gonna call for you.’”
For Martinez, who described singing as an outlet and says she planned to have a career as a vocalist, meeting the world famous R&B star felt like fate. So when she called and Kelly told her he wanted her to come to dinner with him, Martinez and her friend sprang into action.
“My girlfriend said ‘let’s get your makeup and hair done now, this is it, you’re gonna make it,’” Martinez recalled. “We were so naive.”
Martinez ended up meeting the singer, and says he plied her with alcohol, eventually taking her virginity despite knowing she was underage.
“I drank alcohol and just kinda passed out,” she says. “It was my firs sexual experience, and I didn’t think it would be that way. Sex with him felt not natural.”
When Martinez continued to visit Kelly, she says the visits were mainly about sex, and made her feel like a sex object. But Kelly continued to promise to help her with her career, and she felt like he was a key to her success.
“Music was my joy, so I felt like my dream was going to come true,” she says.
But the relationship soon turned into a nightmare, she says. Kelly became jealous and controlling, and hired people to follow her, Martinez says.
“I wouldn’t hear from him for days, and he would come back and it was just sex and abuse,” she recalled. “I said hello to someone I shouldn’t have, or looked at someone I shouldn’t be looking at, and he took me outside and smacked me and said ‘you’re supposed to look at me. I just cried and said ‘ok,’ and then I did that going forward because I didn’t want to anger him or get hit.”
Kelly controlled every aspect of Martinez’s life, she says. He forced her to call him daddy, and wouldn’t let her go to the bathroom without his permission. Once, she said, he grabbed her by the arm and dragged her down a hallway because she had spoken back to him.
Kelly would also humiliate her sexually, forcing her to perform sexual acts on him while friends were in the car.
“It felt like he owned me,” she says.
When Martinez was a senior in high school she found out Kelly had gotten her pregnant, but a few days later, she miscarried, she says. When R. Kelly found out, he wrote to her that he was thinking of her, and told her he had written the song “You Are Not Alone” for Michael Jackson as a dedication to her.
But her nightmare was not yet over. Some time after the miscarriage, Martinez says she caught a brutal bout of mononucleosis from Kelly, which turned into Guillain-Barré syndrome and landed her in the intensive care unit for two and a half weeks.
“My body was completely paralyzed and I almost didn’t make it,” she says.
Martinez says Kelly sent her mom a check for $1,000, but that he was “nowhere to be found” while she lay in the hospital near death. Finally, after prodding from a friend, she saw the truth, she recalled.
“All these things I didn’t want to be, I became. He stole my life from me,” she says. “I decided to walk away. I didn’t want to be a victim anymore.”
Martinez now works with a nonprofit helping victims of abuse, and has two 19-year-old twins, according to the docu-series.
[Photo: Lifetime via YouTube]
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