The sequel to "Surviving R. Kelly" aired Thursday on Lifetime and has already had a major impact on sexual abuse survivors around the country. The National Sexual Assault Hotline saw a 40 percent increase in calls over the weekend according Scott Berkowitz, RAINN President and founder.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the largest anti-sexual assault organization in the United States and Berkowitz says the "Surviving R. Kelly, Part II: The Reckoning" documentary has allowed the organization to help more survivors. "The impact has been incredible. We've seen hundreds of survivors reaching out for help, many of them for the very first time," Berkowitz told Cheddar.
The documentary is the latest in a series that focuses on women who have had alleged inappropriate relationships with singer Robert "R." Kelly when they were underage. Kelly is currently facing numerous charges, including criminal sexual abuse and child pornography.
The spike in calls after the airing Friday did not surprise Berkowitz. He said the organization often sees a spike in calls when sexual assault stories are publicized in the news. "The busiest day in the 26-year history of the National Sexual Assault Hotline was actually the day after Judge [Brett] Kavanaugh's hearing in 2018," after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified about her alleged assault, Berkowitz said.
Lifetime partnered with the organization for its initiative 'Stop Violence Against Women' and included the National Sexual Assault Hotline number in the series. Berkowitz says partnering with companies like Lifetime help the organization to reach more survivors and share their resources. "They've also helped us connect with survivors that were profiled on the show," Berkowitz said.
The "Surviving R. Kelly, Part II: The Reckoning" documentary can be triggering and upsetting for survivors but Berkowitz says the most important thing for them to remember is that there are resources available for support. "The most important message is that there are people here for you, that understand what you've gone through who can help," Berkowitz said.
The National Sexual Assault Hotline helps over 800 survivors each day and is available 24/7 by phone or online chat.
"As the R. Kelly survivors demonstrated, it takes some time, it takes some help, but you are going to make it through," Berkowitz said.
To reach the National Sexual Assault Hotline call 800-656-4673 or select live online chat.