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The Dark Side of OnlyFans Most People Don’t Know About

"As a survivor of the commercial sex industry, I want to share some potential downsides with those who are thinking of starting an OnlyFans."

Header image retrieved from Complex. This article was originally published on by Harmony (Dust) Grillo, MSW, a sexual exploitation survivor and founder of a nonprofit that helps women successfully exit the sex industry. It is reposted here with permission. 6-minute read.
The Dark Side of OnlyFans

By Harmony Grillo, MSW

After watching a documentary that was basically a 1.5 hour long commercial for OnlyFans, I am compelled to share the dark side of what is being presented as “easy money for people who are simply sexually liberated enough to sign up.”

I know the opposing arguments and am well aware of the rationale that it is better and safer than other areas of the commercial sex industry. I understand the lure and, for many, the pressure. As economic hardship, isolation/disconnection, and our cultures’ normalization of porn intersect, more and more people are being enticed into this space of selling sex and sexuality.

And let me be clear, this is not meant to shame or judge people with an OF. As a survivor of the commercial sex industry, I want to share some of the potential downsides with those who are thinking of starting one (and have the privilege of choice).

Related: Is Making an OnlyFans Worth It?

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Here are the top 10 reasons not to start an OnlyFans

On the surface, starting an OnlyFans might seem like a simple thing…turn on your camera, post a pic or a video, get some subs (subscribers), and make some money.

In reality, this is a serious decision that can have a lasting impact on your heart, mind, and future. I know this because I am a survivor of the commercial sex industry, and I have spent nearly two decades walking alongside other women as they have fought to find healing and freedom from the sex industry.

Consider these 10 reasons for not starting an OnlyFans.

1. Screenshots, piracy, and leaked images

There is no way of preventing this. It is practically inevitable. I have heard story after story of people’s content being leaked, shared, and even sold to other porn sites without the creator’s consent or knowledge. There are even networks of OnlyFans subscribers who buy and sell content to each other and other porn sites.

It is only a matter of time before co-workers, friends, or family members end up seeing something you never intended them to see.

Related: “She Was Locked Up in a Room With Cameras”: 11 Horrifying Porn Industry Stories

2. You will always be asked to do more…and you probably will

This is a known reality of the commercial sex industry. It is so easy to get pulled into the intense amount of demand for you to show more, do more and push past whatever boundaries you may have established for yourself.

It is almost inevitable that one day, you will wake up and realize that the money and pressure drove you further than you ever thought you would go.

3. The money isn’t as easy as you think

Some high-profile creators might make a lot of money, but this is not the norm for most people. And even if you make good money at first, you will always have to up your game to keep making money. See #2.

This is the economy of the sex industry. The money is fleeting and unreliable. They are one day and gone the next. You end up chasing it—doing more than you ever thought you would to get the next dollar.

We have already seen this in other forms of amateur porn. New girls can make a little lump of money, but once the novelty wears off, it’s either go big or go home. With the market getting increasingly saturated with “content creators,” this dilemma will only worsen.

Related: Is It Healthier or More Ethical to Watch Porn if You Pay For It?

This is exactly what we have seen in mainstream porn. Most professional porn performers that I know found themselves stuck in a spiral of doing more hardcore content for less and less money and eventually turning to escorting to make ends meet.

This is one of the reasons there are such high rates of substance abuse in the commercial sex industry. Many find that the only way we can cope is to get high.

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4. There is a cost to becoming a sexual object

I can tell you this from firsthand experience. When people pay you money to gratify them sexually, they gain a sense of entitlement to you. Some even feel like they own a piece of you. You are no longer a person. You are a product.

I have never heard anything more vile, crude, abusive, and degrading than comments from people who believe someone exists for their personal sexual gratification. Essentially, becoming a sexual object is an experience of being dehumanized. When you think about it, some of the most atrocious acts in human history have been committed as a result of dehumanizing another person or people group.

And trust me, being viewed and treated this way can have immediate and long-lasting effects.

5. Sexual harassment is a job requirement

You can’t just post photos and videos of yourself and expect to rake in the money. You will be expected to interact with your subs constantly. They won’t just be in your messages telling you how beautiful you are and asking how your day is going. See #2 and #4.

Related: How the Porn Industry Profits From Nonconsensual Content and Abuse

You will be sexually harassed—more intensely than you can probably imagine. Be pressured to perform acts you probably never knew existed by people who are caught deep in the throes of intense sexual addiction, people you would never even want to spend one second with outside of the context of OnlyFans. You will get called names and be vilely criticized. It’s not just harassment; it’s abuse.

A few things are more important than who you choose to surround yourself with. Consider: Is this who you want in your ear and in your life, day in and day out?

6. Stalkers

There are people out there who will research your public and private information and broadcast it to others, a practice called doxing.

It is not uncommon for OnlyFans content creators to have their name, location, and identifying photos leaked, making them especially susceptible to stalkers and people with ill intentions.

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7. It can interfere with your goals

What you do on OnlyFans may disqualify you from certain careers in the future, such as working with children or working for government agencies that require background checks.

It is also very difficult to prevent current and future co-workers and classmates from eventually finding out. See #1.

Related: OnlyFans Subscribers and Sextortion Cases Surge Due to COVID-19 Lockdowns

8.  It will change you, trust me

After just one night working in the strip club, how I saw myself and the world around me changed instantly and dramatically. The damage continued to escalate over time. I became a compilation of other people’s fantasies and, eventually, completely lost touch with who I truly was. Each night, I gave a piece of myself away until there was nothing left to give.

Your capacity for intimacy and ability to have healthy relationships will likely be profoundly impacted. It is hard not to believe that someone would value you for who you are as a person and not what you can do for them sexually. It takes a lot of time and hard work to recover from this.

9. You can’t take it back

Once you do it, you can’t take it back. Even if you close your account as fast as you opened it, the moment you post those videos and images, it will be out there for people to find…indefinitely! See #1.

10. Even if money is good, the price is high.

This is an industry that uses you, abuses you, and discards you. And all you are left with is the trauma to process.

I have seen women in their 60s and 70s working to heal and recover from having worked in the sex industry. Sadly, I have also seen those who never recovered.

Related: We Need to Talk About Our Culture’s Sexual Obsession with Barely-18-Year-Olds

The bottom line…you are worth more!

You are worth more than the dehumanization, degradation, and objectification that OnlyFans and the commercial sex industry have to offer you.

A word on trafficking

If you want to find pimps and traffickers, follow the money. If there is money to be made on OnlyFans, trust me, traffickers and exploiters are working behind the scenes, turning their victims into content creators.

It is already happening and has been for a while. Fact.

And if you think that everyone on OnlyFans there is over 18, think again.

About the Author

Harmony (Dust) Grillo, MSW, is a survivor of exploitation turned UCLA honor student. In 2003, Harmony founded Treasures to help women in the commercial sex industry find freedom. Her story has been featured on NPR, Buzzfeed, and Glamour. Her memoir, Scars and Stilettos, gives an account of her story going from working in strip clubs under the control of a pimp to leading an organization that reaches women on a global scale. She can be reached at @HarmonyGrillo @TreasuresLA on social media and at

Listen to Harmony’s interview on Consider Before Consuming, a podcast by Fight the New Drug.