The Howard Stern Show is no stranger to having porn stars in the studio. He’s also not scared to ask questions that many would consider off limits. So whenever a porn star appears on Stern’s popular Sirius XM radio talk show, he asks them the same question:

“Were you molested as a child?”

He usually gets a variety of responses, some answering yes and detailing their history of childhood sexual abuse on the air. Others say no. When Jenna Jameson, one of the most popular porn actresses of all time, appeared on the show, she denied it. But Jameson later opened up about her response in her book years later:

“Howard asked me if I’d ever been molested or abused. It was the one question I wasn’t prepared for. ‘No,’ I told Howard, in answer to his question. I lied like a rug. I wasn’t ready to tell anybody about any of this (being gang raped, beaten and left for dead), and I certainly wasn’t ready to deal with Howard’s reaction. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was in the business because I was a victim.”
(How to Make Love Like a Porn Star, pg. 391)

Howard Stern’s brash question seems to be a reflection of society’s perception that most, if not all, porn performers are victims of sexual abuse, or that some past sexual trauma set them on a path to choose a career doing porn—a career that lasts an average of 6 to 18 months.

One study published in the Journal of Sex Research seems to confirm this belief about the past and present behaviors of porn stars. Researchers performed a survey of 177 female porn performers who had showed up for STD testing at a porn industry clinic. Then, the same survey was given to a similar demographic of non-porn performing women found at universities and airports. The results?

No less than 36% of porn performers admitted to being molested as children, compared to 29% of non-performers.

Unfortunately, the stereotype of porn stars being sexually abused as kids looks to be somewhat justified, at least by this one study’s information. And what’s equally sad is that this study also adds more surprising (and unsettling) information—women outside the porn industry are reporting the same abuse. Regardless of what someone does for work, porn star or accountant, sexual abuse is never okay. Ever.

While the percentage of porn stars having been molested was clearly greater than non-porn performers, there was even more drastic differences found in the study. The porn actresses reported having more sexual partners in their personal life in the past year than most the regular women had in a lifetime. The performers reported an average of 74 sexual partners in their lifetime, compared to the non-performer average of just 5. Performers were also more likely to have experimented with drugs, have a history of alcohol abuse, and smoke more weed.
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