'Surviving R. Kelly' Docuseries Followed by 20 Percent Surge Sexual-Assault Hotline Calls

"We often see the types of callers we get" follow a news cycle, the hotline network's head said. With the R. Kelly show, more people called "about childhood abuse"

The "Surviving R. Kelly" docuseries led to a surge in calls to one of the nation's leading sexual-assault hotlines.

As the six-part series, which chronicles decades of the singer’s alleged sexual misconduct, aired on the Lifetime network from Thursday through Saturday, the hotline received 20 percent more calls than the prior week, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, which operates the line.

The network's president, Scott Berkowitz, said the types of calls it gets often reflect news events.

"We often see the types of callers we get will follow the news cycle," Berkowitz said. "With the R. Kelly show, we were seeing more folks who are talking about childhood abuse."

When Christine Blasey Ford alleged in testimony before a Senate committee that she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh when they were both teens, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network announced that calls to its hotline rose 201 percent. Kavanaugh has since become a justice on the Supreme Court.

"We heard from older women during the Kavanaugh hearings, and fewer men and kids than a normal day," Berkowitz said.

He said that before Lifetime aired the series, it reached out to RAINN in advance in case it received an influx of hotline calls.

"We try and staff up as much as possible if we know something is coming up, and over the last year we added over 50 hotline staff because the demand has just kept growing and growing," Berkowitz said.

"Surviving R. Kelly" features testimony from women who accuse Kelly of mental, physical and sexual abuse, as well as interviews with associates and relatives of the singer, including his brothers Carey and Bruce Kelly. Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, and singer John Legend also provided commentary.

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