I guess my story really begins when I was about 10. I started to look at the world around me, the way I was raised and question everything. I had been born and raised in church but felt very distant from a god I viewed as authoritarian and uncaring–as he did nothing to protect me from a childhood of abuse.
Fast forward to about 16, even though I had graduated and started attending college, I was still not good enough for my dad, who often accused me of promiscuous behavior. I remember making a cognitive decision one day that I wasn’t going to try to get him to love me anymore. I moved in with my 26 year-old boyfriend, Josh, at 17.
Now, in hindsight, I see this chapter of my life being written on its own. I felt like I had little-to-no control over a life that was quickly sliding downhill. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason for how I ended up at that porn convention one sunny day immediately following my 18th birthday. Perhaps it was merely my fixation with Howard Stern, or my unquenchable curiosity for porn and sex or maybe my desire for attention and acceptance… Whatever the reason, this would be the beginning of a whirlwind that lured me in and sucked me up.
I walked in–only to be mistaken for one of the ‘stars.’ That afternoon plays like a filmstrip in my mind as I passed through each room. In one room, a man offered to pay me to pose for his lingerie company; another was filled with photographers and journalists that gave me cards and took pictures; in another, 2 girls posed as they signed my chest and convention-goers crowded around and took pictures… At this point, I kind of felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I was always kind of an outcast at school; I never had more than a couple friends–so, needless to say, I was NOT used to this kind of attention, and it felt good… or so I thought.
When I got home, I skimmed through the cards I received, thinking about all the strangers that probably had pictures of my chest and were now posting them online. I smiled at the idea of someone looking at me and thinking I was pretty. I began to fantasize about a life in the adult industry.
I only vaguely remembered having a conversation with a gent from an online adult newsletter, but I guess I gave him my information–because he called me the next day. We discussed my intentions, his intentions and the next step. I began by accompanying him to strip clubs where I posed with the feature dancers for pictures… and then some. He quickly chose my name, secured an online domain and nagged me almost daily to sign a contract with him.
Luckily for me, I knew someone who had been in the industry and knew the ‘creepy’ from the ‘creepier.’ She talked some sense into me before I naively signed the contract with this man. She said that if I really wanted to, she would arrange for me to have an interview with her former company. I thought about her offer while I drove to meet someone at a bookstore for a blind date.
After an hour of uncomfortable exchanges on the date, I decided I wasn’t really interested in this guy–he was kind of weird. At about 11pm, I decided to end the date and head to my car. Then the ‘date’ took a strange turn–he demanded in a harsh tone that I get in his car. It took me by complete surprise. I immediately flashed back to my dad–I knew that tone. I became paralyzed with fear and did exactly what he told me. He proceeded to drive me to a nearby park, grabbed my arm and took me to the very back of the park. I was still in disbelief, not completely realizing what was about to happen. He pulled his shirt off and laid it on the bench. I asked him what he was doing; he didn’t say a word. Suddenly, he turned to me, grabbed my pants and yanked them down. I proceeded to tell him I didn’t want to do this, not here, not now, not like this… anything aside from yelling or punching him. He was A LOT bigger and stronger than me, and I was very scared of what he would do to me. I just shut my mouth and lay there thinking about faces of my loved ones… trying to find a ‘happy place,’ thinking about how I was going to be strong because I wanted to see them again. He stopped to remove his condom, and again I told him, ‘no.’ I said I might have something… So he stopped.
During my drive home, I decided I was not going to mentally revisit that event ever again. I was just going to act like it never happened. While the evidence on my body was undeniable, I returned home and spent the next couple of days in bed, recuperating.
Days later, once again, the man from the convention called me, asking for me to sign the contract. So, I began once again to contemplate the industry. In the months to follow, I went to an awards show with him and he introduced me to various actors, actresses, producers, etc. He introduced me with the name he gave me, and these people would look me up and down and would discuss the possibility of a film. We went upstairs for more photos. This time I was taking photos with a woman who was being honored that night with a lifetime achievement award. I had never been so bombarded with men and flashing cameras in my life! Later, he forwarded some pictures and commented that we needed to work on my ‘look’ …and my thighs.
But this time it was different. I didn’t feel proud that these men thought I was pretty. I felt like a piece of meat; I felt de-valued. I didn’t even say a word in the majority of those conversations… No one knew ME… I don’t think I even did anymore…
January 12, 2005, I found out that I was pregnant. The very next day I got into a bad accident. I was lethargic and confused; I began to realize how out-of-control my life was becoming. I narrowed it down to 2 choices: have the baby and not go into the industry, or have an abortion and give into the whirlwind.
In the midst of that whirlwind of bad choices, I somehow finally made a good choice–I kept the baby. At first, I wasn’t really sure who the father was, but, once I received an approximate due date, I was 99% sure the baby was Josh’s. At that time, we had been on and off. His drug and alcohol use started to escalate. The majority of my pregnancy was filled with verbal abuse and turmoil. He called me, ‘whore’ constantly and would kick me out of his house. When I was about four months along, he began the physical abuse.
I felt so rejected by my family for the choices I made; I felt so rejected by the world… I felt like he was my only hope. I was determined to make the relationship work. At times, I felt VERY lonely and uncertain about the future–what was I going to do with this life I was bringing into the world? I could barely control mine… Thoughts of suicide constantly tormented me… life was miserable. One night, I dreamt that I physically felt like my baby was holding onto my finger… I got this feeling like everything was going to be okay.
Months after my daughter was born, I moved into a townhouse with Josh. The drug, alcohol, verbal, physical and emotional abuse reached a climax. The next 7 months were COMPLETE HELL. I didn’t really believe in anything–but watching Josh trip on meth, I began to believe in demon possession. He became a different person–and I was very scared. The physical abuse became part of the ‘norm’ in our dysfunctional relationship, and I just dismissed it to drugs. The day after he grabbed me by the throat and pushed me down the stairs, the light started to flicker back on. I remember the terrified look on my baby’s face…
I barely slept those days, I kept the bedroom door locked and held my baby close. One particular night, I remember sitting on the stairs sobbing, pouring my heart out to Someone that I hoped was listening. ‘God, if You’re real, take me out of this life.’
Unfortunately, it took one more incident. Luckily, he went to jail and stayed away long enough for me to come up with a game plan: pack up the house and leave. For those 3 days, I didn’t sleep or eat–I was terrified of him returning.
Rock bottom for me was the drive to the shelter:
I was 21 years old.
I was driving my 10 month-old daughter to a destination that I could only imagine would be a dome with a bunch of cots.
I only had 2 duffle bags.
I had no ‘plan B.’ This was it. This was where I would be for the next 6 months.
Like a glass of cold water, the past 4 years poured through my mind. I could barely see the road as I drove with my eyes filled with tears…
How did this become my life?
I was finally spit out of the whirlwind and left to survey the damage…
I couldn’t see that God’s hand was picking me and my daughter up out of that dangerous situation, taking me out of that life–just as I had asked Him to…
The chapter to follow is labeled, ‘new life, fresh life.’ I finally got acquainted with God. The God. The God Who saw me in my mess, Who loved and valued me enough to deliver me from a life of misery. Why? Why did He see me on those steps as someone worth saving, worth loving? I don’t know. I can’t say. But I’ve come to realize that that’s exactly Who He is. There is nothing I could do to make Him love me less, and there is nothing I could do to make Him love me more than He already does.
It’s been tough being a single parent, but I have to say–it has left me in a place at times where all I can do is hope for a miracle–and, I have countless stories of miracles and supernatural provision… all from my Father…
So, this current chapter in my life is called, ‘what’s next?’ I’m now nearing 25. I’m privileged to be a part of a ministry that helps mothers in similar situations that I was in. I am also pleased and honored to be a part of Treasures. It blows my mind that God could use me–a formerly tossed-out, broken, worn pot to be a vessel of His care, compassion and love, to tell women, like me, that He loves them, He values them. What an honor!
I never thought I’d say this but–I LOVE my life.
I’d like to end by saying ‘…and she lived happily ever after. The End.’
But, I continue to make mistakes. Sometimes, BIG mistakes: mistakes that I tend to think will make Him stop loving me–but He doesn’t. In fact, every time I screw up, instead of beating me over the head like everyone else has–He finds someway to express His love to me. I don’t get it…
…but, I have to tell you, it’s amazing. It’s changed my life.
He’s changed my life.
I now have life.