A little over two years ago I found a video of myself on a free porn site. It was the first video I had ever been in. I was convinced into doing this by a former boyfriend, who was the leading abuser in my life. I was only a few months away from turning 18 when I made it.
There are so many things that could have caused me to do this to myself. It must have been the naked photographs taken of me by a family friend when I was 7. Or the gym teacher in first grade who was very “affectionate” with me. Or was it my mother? The babysitter? It would be so much easier if I could blame one specific event or person. Someone other than myself.
The beginning of the abuses, before I was 10
I think I was 7 years old when it all started. My grandparents had a friend I’ll call “Maurice.” I stayed at his huge house for a couple nights when my grandparents went on a trip, and started exploring around the house. I ended up in a big room with a canopy four-poster bed.
He found me, and told me that I looked so pretty like a princess, and that he wanted to take some pictures. I was a little girl, so that definitely appealed to me. He posed me, but did not touch me inappropriately. It didn’t feel wrong until he asked me to take off my clothes. I said that I didn’t want to, I said no at least ten times. He pulled out his wallet and handed me a fifty dollar bill. I had never seen one before! It might as well have been a million dollars. So, I took my underwear off. The strangest thing about this is that I was comforted by the money. The camera got closer and closer I just held onto that money.
I never saw Maurice again after that. I don’t know if my family found out, if maybe he was arrested, or if he refused contact afterward but my life went on. I eventually forgot about what happened to me, but I was always terrified of letting a man watch me undress.
At 16, when I was assaulted in a room full of people
Then, when I was 16, my ex-boyfriend sexually assaulted me at a party, in a room full of people. This really, really messed me up. I tried and tried to scream, but nothing. I had no voice.
Then, not too long after, the same guy raped me. I was very drunk, and he didn’t just rape me, he filmed it. I saw him setting up a video camera on a shelf. I was half asleep and feeling quite sick, at this point. When he forced himself on me, I was pounding on his chest, trying to get him to let off. It went on for exactly 26 minutes. I remember staring at his clock on the dresser.
After almost a year of our abusive relationship and me trying to “fix him,” I decided I had to leave. I started booking gigs as a lingerie model, which turned me on to being a nude model because it paid better. After a while, my ex refused to drive me to the bus station and I was stuck in that house with him.
So, I started doing webcam videos. I started going darker and deeper. I had to get through. But mostly, I needed the money. That was when my nothing turned into something. It turned into her. From then on, I became “Pretty.”
Turning to survival sex to pay the rent
For over a year, I survived living with my ex and his new girlfriend, webcamming every night, and doing pornographic videos. I also did a photo shoot that ended in a beating, getting hit and strangled by the guy. I then moved in with my mother, finished esthetician school, and moved into my own apartment after being hired at a great salon and spa all because of her.
After a while, I was having trouble building a client base and had to try to find another job so that I could pay my rent. I was walking through downtown when it came to me: I’ll audition at a strip club. I won’t work there for very long, I told myself, just long enough to get back on my feet. Anyone who has ever been through this knows that it is never the case. I worked there for two months before my cocaine addiction started. At that point, I was “Pretty” again, all the time. I let her take me over.
I went back to the pornographer I worked with previously and begged for another video. I negotiated with him, lowering my price so that I could just keep my terrible little apartment. It was the only place that I had ever truly felt safe. He gave in and I signed the paperwork. It was the first and only time I sold my body like that for money. I planned to kill myself shortly after.
Breaking free from my old life
But before I had the chance to carry out my plan, some old friends from high school had found me. One was the first boy that I loved, back in high school. He convinced me to move in with him and leave all of this awfulness behind. I brought our two best friends along and within a year of living there, he and I were married. We didn’t think much about it, we just decided one day that we were going to, so we did. Then I got pregnant and we had to tell our families. That’s when it all got too real. I was about to be a mother! I was married to a man that I had known for 11 years (at the time) but I didn’t really know him. And he didn’t really know me.
He remembered me, but mostly, he knew Pretty. He knew the inhuman me. The me who didn’t care about me. My babies have changed everything for me. But not for him.
My husband has struggled with a pornography addiction since he was a young boy. His parents shamed him instead of explaining to him the harms of pornography. He thinks he had a good childhood because he was never physically or sexually abused, but to this day, he struggles with pornography. We’ve been married for just over three years, and he hasn’t been able to go more than a month without it. Even though he knows now about everything I’ve gone through that has destroyed me.
Living in fear, but having hope
These days, I’m afraid of everything. I’m even afraid to let my children go places overnight when I need a break because of what happened to me at an early age. Mostly, I’m afraid of what his addiction will do to our children. He has left our 2-year-old alone with our 6-month-old for upwards of 20 minutes to look at porn in the bathroom. Both of them screaming. He has watched porn at work and while driving home. I only know what he tells me, and he doesn’t tell me much.
But I’m still here and as long as he is fighting his addiction, I will be too, because this is who I am. Because he deserves a better quality of life and love. Because our children deserve a father who can be truly intimate and loving. Because I deserve to have pornography out of my life forever. He feels hopeful and in control for the first time.
He says your organization has helped him. So, thank you for that.
Why this matters
This real Fighter’s story is the reality of many who perform in porn, whether it be through a webcam or on a professional set. Society considers porn to be a “healthy” outlet for performers who enjoy their work and get paid well, but stories like these and research depict the truth—porn isn’t only harmful for those who watch it, it’s also harmful for those who create it.
And those who agree to produce it usually come from a place of total financial desperation, not ambitious aspiration.
Fighting for love means seeing porn for the exploitation that it is. Porn is never harmless, and it always has victims on both sides of the screen.
Behind the fantasy of porn is a reality of real people being exploited and abused. SHARE this article to spread Pretty’s story and shine a light on the facts behind the harms of pornography.
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