Dominique had heard about other women saying they had to follow Kelly’s “rules,” but she didn’t use that term, either, and she said some of what the singer’s accusers have said was wrong. For example, she was allowed to watch television and connect to the Internet. There were “no locks on no doors ... If them two other girls, Joy and Azriel, want to walk out, they can do that.” However, she said Kelly did take away his girlfriends’ phones, replacing them with new ones to be used only with him; he did not allow them to contact their parents, family members or friends; he decreed that they should all wear baggy gym clothes, so other men could not admire their bodies; he did not want them to look at or speak to other men, and they had to ask for his permission to eat or go to the bathroom.
“I couldn’t even have a drink without his permission. I’m a grown-ass woman, and I’ve got to ask you if I want a drink? Everything you do, you have to ask him. That’s not living, that’s not normal. I’ve got to ask to use the fucking bathroom? Are you serious? I’m about to pee on myself if I can’t get in contact with you. What the fuck is this?”
Dominique said she was the “tomboy” among Kelly’s live-in lovers, and the most rebellious. She often disobeyed him and suffered what she called “consequences,” including spankings, beatings and being hit with an extension cord. Once, after she threw a piece of a Keurig coffeemaker at Kelly, “he grabbed me and he pulled my hair out, and I had, like, patches torn from my hair.”
Still, Dominique said, “I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m innocent. One time, I did hit him back. He’s like, ‘Are you crazy?’ Like, yeah! Me and him had an Ike and Tina moment, like they had in the limousine. I wasn’t afraid of him.”
After being reunited with her mother in May 2018, in the scenes captured in Surviving R. Kelly, Dominique returned to Kelly’s side three days later. She stayed with him for about two more weeks, until she finally walked away for good. She did not do it face-to-face; that would have been too hard, she said. “He went to sleep, and I just wrote him a letter: ‘You are a great man. No hard feelings, I am just over it. I am growing. This is not working.’ ”
Every time we talked, I asked Dominique why she stayed with Kelly for so long, and what she believes is the source of his hold over the women who live with him. Finally, she called up an image of the star on her cellphone -- his most recent mug shot. “It’s like, I know them eyes. Every time I looked in his eyes, I knew he was sorry. Like, when he hit me, he apologized. I’m, like, you did! But enough was enough. Yes, you did say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ But, then you do it again when shit don’t go your way.”
Kelly often discussed the sexual abuse he claims he suffered, as well as his difficulties reading and writing. “At the end of the day, he’s a victim, too, because he went through some shit, and people -- they don’t understand.” She was stung by criticism from some, including the Savages and the Clarys, that she should have spoken out against Kelly sooner, and that she should be talking to the authorities. “I just want to heal. I just want my privacy,” she said. “People may disagree or hate me for what I’m saying. I’m not trying to defend him, but, at the end of the day, you don’t understand what he’s been through, as a child.”