One of the main storylines in one of Lifetime’s most-watched documentaries, Surviving R. Kelly, was the rescue of Dominique Gardner by her mother Michelle Kramer. Since Dominique returned home, R. Kelly has been jailed on multiple charges related to allegations of sexual assault<, and in June 2022, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Despite years of her will at his hands, she is trying to live a life of normalcy. Scroll below for an update on how she’s doing now after leaving the disgraced R&B singer.
How Did Dominique Gardner Meet R. Kelly?
Kelly was put in contact with Dominique through one of his survivors, Jerhonda Pace. Kelly allegedly said Jerhonda could invite a friend to come see her and she gave him Dominique’s information so he could coordinate. Dominique dated Kelly for six years before he asked her to move to Atlanta. “After that, I never saw my daughter again,” Michelle said in the Lifetime docuseries. Jerhonda said they never saw each other although they were in the same home.
What Was R. Kelly and Dominique Gardner’s Relationship Like?
While Dominique and Kelly were together, she was allegedly forbidden from talking to men and under strict watch. Even after she left, she still found herself following his rules. “He controlled everything,” Michelle said. “It was sick.”
If she was to disobey him, she claimed she would be punished and beaten. She said he pulled her hair out in chunks if she didn’t answer a command. He would lock her in rooms for days on end without food or water. She claimed she was punished the most out of his girlfriends because she rebelled the most.
How Was Dominique Gardner Rescued?
The mother and daughter had zero contact for three years. Michelle was surprised to see her daughter on TMZ, looking skinny and wearing male clothing. She saw they were in L.A. and went to go find her. “Just to say, ‘Hi,’ that’s all I was trying to do,” Michelle said. In May 2018, they were reunited at Dominique’s hotel. “We ran out of there like Harriet Tubman. I was freeing a slave,” Michelle said during her interview.
Dominique said leaving Kelly was one of the hardest decisions she ever had to make. “Of course, I love Rob,” she explained. “But then again, I knew that the situation wasn’t good.” Once she left, she said she felt like a “scared child.”
Following Dominique’s return, Michelle said her daughter had changed. “Before Dominique met R. Kelly, she was this bubbly teenager,” Michelle revealed. “But after R. Kelly, she was dark. She was like a loner; she didn’t want to be bothered with nobody.”
Three days after Michelle rescued Dominique, she went back to Kelly. Michelle begged her not to go. Dominique said she had to go back to leave on her own and check on the other girls. Although she said he was kinder this time around, he wouldn’t let her attend her brother’s graduation. That was the last straw. She finally decided to leave and took a cab back home.
Where Is Dominique Gardner Today?
In early January 2020, Michelle announced the birth of Dominique’s daughter, Kyla. She shared videos from what looked like a baby shower weeks prior to her announcement. In the clips, it appeared that the father was present at the event.
In the past, Michelle would often post about her daughter and provide updates on how she is doing since leaving R. Kelly; however, her Instagram profile is currently set to private.
Although Dominique is on Instagram, it appears she has not been active since June 2021. The last picture she posted was a car selfie, which she captioned, “IT’S ABOUT THE GLO.”
In January 2021, Dominique penned an emotional tribute to her daughter in honor of her first birthday, captioning a carousel of photos, “Wow! I cannot believe how much time flies when you actually have something to live for. You have something to be grateful for. You have someone to grow with and experience changes every day. I love you so much, I cannot believe you are 1 … my little Capricorn.”
Though it is currently unknown what Dominique does for work today, her Instagram bio says she is the owner of Dope Konect, a clothing company that sells apparel for men, women and children. However, it appears the company’s website has been taken down, and the last post on Dope Konect’s Instagram page was in October 2020.
Does Dominique Still Support R. Kelly?
“Before Dominique was with R. Kelly, she was his No.1 fan,” Michelle said in Surviving R. Kelly. “She loved him and her dream was to meet him. She did.” In an interview published back in March 2019, Dominique tried to articulate the complicated feelings she has toward the singer.
“I loved him to death, you know what I’m sayin’? But he needs help. Who doesn’t need help?” she said to The New Yorker, when asked if she regrets spending nine years with him. It was evident that she wrestled with her emotions towards him.
“Talking about ‘I’m not Lucifer.’ Yes, you are,” she said in response to his interview with Gayle King in March 2019. Although she added, “He is a giver, because when everything between me and him was good — oh, my God, it was, like, perfect. But, as soon as he gets mad, he turns into a person like, oh, what up, the new Rob.”
Dominique also insisted she was “not playing victim,” adding, “I done did some s–t.” She continued, “Maybe he did hurt. Maybe he was in love with me. But I never gave him a fair chance.”
When asked how she thought he should be punished, she insisted he should serve no jail time but rather be on house arrest with a “24-hour” therapist. At the time, she admitted she still loved him. He has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.
Where to Watch ‘Surviving R. Kelly: The Final Chapter’
The two-part series, Surviving R. Kelly: The Final Chapter, airs on Lifetime on Monday, January 2, 2023, and Tuesday, January 3, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.