Who Is Dominique Gardner? Update on Her Now

One of the main story lines in the one of Lifetime’s most-watched documentaries, Surviving R. Kelly, was the rescue of Dominique Gardner by her mother Michelle Kramer. Since Dominique, 28, returned home, R. Kelly has been jailed on multiple charges related to allegations of sexual assault. 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 53-year-old disgraced R&B singer.

How Did She 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 doc. Jerhonda, 26, said they never saw each other although they were in the same home.

Lifetime/YouTube

What Was Their 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.

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How Was She Rescued?

Three years had gone by where the mother and daughter had zero contact. 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. 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 Dominque met R. Kelly, she was this bubbly teenager,” Michelle said. “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.

What Is She Up to Now?

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. Although Dominique is on Instagram, she chooses to remain private. Michelle often posts about her daughter and provides updates on how she is doing since R. Kelly.

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Dominique Gardner Now A New Mom Whos Speaking Her Truth
Courtesy Michelle Kramer/Instagram

Does She Still Support Him?

“Before Dominique was with R. Kelly, she was his No.1 fan,” Michelle said in the documentary. “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 towards 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 wrestles 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 is “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 thinks he should be punished, she insisted he should serve no jail time but rather be on house arrest with a therapist. At the time, she admitted she still loves him. He has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.

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