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“The More Real the Pain, the More Views I Got”: Confessions from an Extreme BDSM Porn Performer

By April 18, 2019 No Comments
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Cover photo credit to Getty/iStock. 8 minute read.

There's a vast amount of research on the harmful effects of pornography, and it's important that this information is accessible to the public. Weekly, we highlight a research study that sheds light on the expanding field of academic resources that showcase porn's harms. These studies cover a wide range of topics, from the sociological implications of pornography to the neurological effects of porn-consumption.

BDSM is a variety of often erotic practices or roleplaying involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadomasochism. This is the real experience of one former performer who worked with a popular ultra-extreme BDSM production company for a number of years before it was shut down.

TRIGGER WARNING

This true story has elements of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and describes distressing pornographic scenarios that are graphic. Reader discretion is heavily advised.

__________________________

How does one even end up in porn? Isn’t it a choice made completely freely, where everything that happens is consensual?

That there is the big lie, entertained by viewers. I have never met a porn model with a happy past.

By the time I was exploited on camera at 21, I had already been broken for 8 years through sexual abuse and domestic violence.

When I was young, I suffered sexual abuse at the hands of an older woman. I didn’t realize it was abuse, but by the time I did, I was an early teen and I reported it to the police.

Shame started in the courtroom with my abuser

Reporting added new trauma that estranged me from all of my peers and the school community where it took place, and my young mind could not process the sentencing. In the courtroom, I received spiteful glares from a sea of faces I didn’t know who came to support my abuser, as if I was the one being accused and judged, and heard my perpetrator tell me they “forgave me” for reporting in front of the judge.

Going through court as a kid bludgeoned me with shame, as I was rejected by an entire community for speaking up, branded as a pervert by my community because the abuser was a woman and that must mean I was gay. I was stripped naked and tested for STDs in the forensic exam at the DA’s insistence.

Related: I Thought Porn Would Help Me Cope With Past Sexual Abuse—I Was Wrong

The forensic exam was the first time my body and genitals were ever photographed. I will never forget being confused as to why the forensic nurses had to photograph parts of my body that had not been touched by my abuser for months, or ever been molested. When I saw my genitals displayed on the computer screen, to be later used as evidence in court, I couldn’t fathom the logic behind this, was mortified by the idea that my 14-year-old genitals would be shown to lawyers and judges despite no apparent injuries, and I thought my body was horrifically ugly. After sentencing, I felt as if I had been marked in some unthinkable way.

I believed the lie that I was “bad” for speaking up against something I wanted to stop, and that lie became the belief that steered my life. It took me 11 years after my perpetrator was sentenced to understand that what transpired was a crime. A crime by an adult against a child that I was never to blame for, that love had nothing to do with it.

In those 11 years, the cycle of abuse continued unrelentingly, until abuse became my home.

Hat - Fight For Love

I believed I could erase the first abuse with more abuse

Several more adults proceeded to use me as a “sex toy” after the first adult. Being exiled from my peers and cast away like trash, I couldn’t relate to other kids my age anymore, and gravitated to the familiar world of adults, enduring several more crimes that went unreported. In my shattered adolescent brain, I thought that if more adults slept with me, then maybe the original abuse could be over-written and the trauma of the original abuse could be diluted.

I had unsafe sex with grown men who owned bars during a summer in France at 15, flew across the country to meet men with rotting teeth that had solicited me on my internet journal who introduced me to sadomasochism—S&M, the giving or receiving of pleasure from acts involving the receipt or infliction of pain or humiliation—(I told my parents I was “visiting a friend in the city” for the weekend), slept with former heroin junkies who gave me infections every time we had sex because they didn’t bathe, and started living with a 28-year-old alcoholic at 17.

Related: Why You Can’t Consistently Fight Sexual Abuse Without Also Fighting Porn

When I was finally of age and began dating a man just a few years older than me, what seemed like a dream romance became violent just a few months after we met. He read my journal, didn’t like what he read, broke everything in my room, then came to pick me up from work only to take me into the woods and beat me whilst he told me I was a “broken little girl” over and over again.

I remember that my body was frozen into immobility as I was being kicked and back-handed and I couldn’t fight back anywhere but inside my mind. Despite being covered in bruises and thrown down a muddy hill and fleeing to another state out of fear, I refused to press charges because he said he was sorry and I ended up staying with this man for 2 ½ more years, being conditioned to find violence erotic and told it was love.

I believed violence was a language I understood

He told me that violence was the only language I could understand, and I believed him. After I reported him to the police, he had been arrested in front of his mother at his work, and his parents wouldn’t let me come to dinner anymore. I had to console his friends who were crying because they couldn’t believe he was capable of domestic violence.

I remember riding in the back of a Toyota Camry with his mom to get his record expunged, and I surrendered to the idea that I would have to console others when bad things happened to me, that no one really does care about crime victims and there’s really no point in speaking up about it. It was both my duty to both receive the abuse, and clean up the mess it made.

Related: Not All Porn Is Consensual. Don’t Believe It? Just Ask These Performers.

This boyfriend would tie me up during sex, took photos of me with my bruises in lingerie, showed me a variety of porn and had taken me to a lot of strip clubs with a fake ID where I saw a part of myself in the dancers and felt at ease in that underground world. Broken girls feel at ease around other broken girls.

The commercial sex world seemed inevitable for me, and after answering an ad, I started doing bondage pornography at the end of our relationship, as if to succumb to the idea that being abused for pay was my career path.

People Are Not Products - Black

Trying bondage porn as an escape, but it only imprisoned me

I remember hating my first bondage shoot, and telling myself that I never had to do it again when it was over. But the day after, it’s like a switch flipped in my brain, I realized I could use porn as an excuse to get away from this boyfriend, and another shoot was scheduled. Then another and another, for five years.

I didn’t understand that I was just jumping from one fire to another, in this case, a blaze that would have me wanting death later on, just to quiet the pain.

I didn’t understand that the idea of the people I met in the industry were “like my real family” was a lie, because true family doesn’t make money off of your suffering, or forbid you to safeword because then you will be known as “fussy,” and make you continue in bondage off-camera in order to be paid for it on-screen.

Related: “People Want It Harder”: These Real Quotes From Porn Producers Are Beyond Disturbing

After 10 to 12 hour days of being bound and tortured, in scenes that sought to mimic military torture and re-enact murder crime scenes, making videos with names with Worthless C— or Humiliation W— Gets Punished—where I was shocked with cattle prods, beat until I would cry so much I couldn’t breathe, given bruises that would take months to heal, and asphyxiated with plastic bags that the producer would urinate into—I would then be put in bondage for the duration of the night, either in a cage with a bucket for a toilet, or chained to a bed where the owner of the studio could have sex with me at will, or stuffed in a bag where I could not see and forced to sleep in bodily fluids. (FTND note: the porn company she is describing was shut down in 2005 because it was so extreme and violent, though content from this and other BDSM and gonzo porn companies has been introduced into free mainstream porn sites today. Pornhub, for example, hosts videos from this extreme porn site.)

Related: What Happens If A Porn Performer Is Abused On Set—Can They Report It?

The coercion and off-camera activity was well-known amongst models and a mandatory condition of employment, to the point where veteran models would simply groom new ones into the routine of things. If you wanted to work, you had to get used to it.

My years of pain paved the way into porn

The years of having my innocence violated, being conditioned to violence, believing I was “bad,” and told that my worth was no more than my body is what created the doorway into pornography, and once inside, my wounds bled out for sexual entertainment. The more real my pain was, the more I cried from the depth of my depths, the more abuse I took, the more my videos were watched.

Related: After Multiple Sexual Assault Allegations From Fellow Performers, James Deen Stars In Porn Film About Consent

Every time someone watched me on screen, they were watching someone who had been so estranged from a healthy experience of love, that they stopped believing in love altogether.

Watching me on screen was watching me believe that I was unlovable, irredeemable, and that my only worth as a human being consisted of the amount of sexual pleasure I could provide another, at any cost to myself. I offered myself, because I had already been stolen by the toxicity of my past.

This is how I got into porn.

Y.

Normalizing Abuse Isnt Normal

Drawing the curtain back from extreme porn

This story shows the realities of how producing extreme porn impacts the lives of performers.

Not all mainstream porn incorporates such extreme content, but BDSM and extreme violence have become more popular and normalized types of porn that many average porn consumers know about.

Related3 Reasons Why Fixing The Porn Industry’s Problems Won’t Actually Fix Porn Itself

That being said, Y’s experience gives us a look into how some performers channel the pain of their upbringing into the violence of the industry. Not every performer in violent porn has an abusive past, though from our experience with interviewing former stars, it is a common theme.

Ultimately, the takeaway from her heartbreaking story, is that you can never know how someone entered into the industry, or why they continue to stay. Sometimes, it’s for survival. Sometimes, it’s because of coercion. Usually, it’s because of exploitation.

Did you catch what Y said in her story? She couldn’t use her “safeword” to stop brutal scenes because she’d be seen as difficult to work with. This might not be how all BDSM porn sets are, but this was her experience, and we’ve seen from other reports of popular studios that abuse absolutely happens (link trigger warning) on set.

A “yes” is only valid if “no” is a legitimate option.

The fact is, when you consume porn, there’s no way to know what kind of “consent” the actors have given. You can’t assume, just because someone appears in a porn video, that they knew beforehand exactly what would happen or that they had a real choice or the ability to stop what was being done.

“I’ve never received a beating like that before in my life,” said performer Alexandra Read after being whipped and caned for 35 minutes. “I have permanent scars up and down the backs of my thighs. It was all things that I had consented to, but I didn’t know quite the brutality of what was about to happen to me until I was in it.”

Did you catch what Alexandra said there? “It was all things that I had consented to.” That’s the problem with treating consent like it’s “all-or-nothing.” She consented to do X. She didn’t consent to do X, Y, and Z².

Related: Hall Of Fame Porn Performer Sues Production Company After Violent Abuse On Porn Set

We’re not claiming that all porn is non-consensual. We’re just pointing out that some of it is and some of it isn’t, and when you watch it there’s no way to know which is which.

So, would you buy from a company if you knew that some, but not all, of their products were made with child labor? Would you support a store that abused some, but not all, of their employees?

How can it be ethical to say that “porn is okay because participants give their consent,” when we know for a fact that some—probably much more than you think—do not? How can it be healthy to watch porn when it’s clear that some performers, though not all, entered the industry because of their abusive pasts?

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