Industry Survivor Stories

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Ashley Brooks' Story

My real name is April and I was raised in Southern California by a single mother, who struggled with severe depression as far back as I can remember. She was a wonderful woman, but extremely troubled, and though she raised me to the best of her ability, she dealt with many issues from her past, which continued to haunt her until she died of breast cancer in 1992.

All throughout my childhood, she refused discuss much of her past with me, nor would she discuss things related to sex. She told me the basics, and that was about it. I had to research many things on my own, which led to me having a very distorted view of sex. She treated sex as something dirty, and refused to address any questions that I had. I remember having to look up things in the encyclopedia, and talking about things with my friends.

Not only that, but there were many other things that she would refused to discuss with me, even though they happened in front of my very eyes. For example, when I was 7 years old, I remember eating dinner at Denny's with her one evening. We were at the front of the restaurant, and I remember a man stumbled in, with blood gushing out from his chest, and a knife sticking out of his back. He made eye contact with me, said "I'm wounded,"and fell to the floor. I remember many people rushing to his aid, and my mother praying vehemently for him at the table. When I asked what had happened, she replied "Don't think about it. Don't look. Just eat your supper. Just don't pay any attention," so I did what she said. She never discussed the incident with me any further, nor did I ask her to.

Aside from her, I had virtually NO CONTACT with my mother's side of the family, as they all lived in England and South Africa, where she was raised. I had very little contact with my dad, who lived in Missouri at the time. I would go to visit him for 2 months during the summer, but that was about it. This went on from the time I was 5 until I was 13. He was a very cold and intimidating man. I don't ever remember him telling me that he loved me, but I remember very well the excessive drinking and belt-whippings. He was usually well-composed, but on the occasions he did get drunk, his temper was frightening. Basically, I HATED going to visit him, and remember calling my mother crying because I wanted to come home.

Most of his family was very nice, but I never made a connection with any of them. I was basically an outsider, and hated being there. Most of them paid me little attention, but I remember one uncle who took a special interest in me. At the time, I enjoyed the attention, because he seemed to make up for what my father lacked. I remember several instances when I was very young, and I would be taking a bath, he would come into the bathroom, and sit down by the tub and talk with me. I don't remember much about those incidents…just that he would be very playful and openly-friendly. I also remember becoming intimidated by him after a while, but because I was afraid of my dad, I wouldn't really talk to him about it. I vaguely remember these times, and I had my suspicions, which were confirmed when I was 13. I was talking to my friend about how I was afraid of the dark, but when I masturbated at night, it would give me a sense of comfort, and would help me fall asleep.

I explained to her that I wasn't sure why…I just thought it was an odd quirk that I had. She then told me that when I was 7 years old, I was crying to her one day and told her that an uncle had "touched me" while I was in the bathtub. I told her I had no recollection of this, and she was shocked, as was I. Shortly thereafter, my mother called my father and told him that I wouldn't be coming to visit anymore.

From that point on, I had no contact with my dad. It was just myself and my mom. Then, when I was 14, my worst nightmare came true. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She spent most of her time after that in and out of hospitals, and I was basically on my own from that point forward, both emotionally and physically. She would spend weeks at a time in the hospital, and, besides a friend who came to stay with me every once in a while, I was basically alone in the house. I became very depressed, but had no one to talk to. No one on my dad's side of the family knew that my mom was sick, and because I knew that she did not want them to know, I never tried to make contact. Basically, I was completely alone. I remember one Christmas in particular when my mom was in the hospital. I remember decorating the tree, and crying over my loneliness. I had no one to talk to, and begun slipping into a deep depression. I never talked to anyone about my feelings, because my mom had always raised me not to bother anyone with my problems. So I didn't. The fact that I was so consumed with my mother's illness left me with little interest in sex. I remember becoming obsessed with a few guys, but they were all celebrities, and I remember becoming fixated on them to the point of continual obsession. I had no desire to date, though, because I was too concerned with my own problems.

When my mom WAS home, she would lock herself in her room, reading her Bible, and would barely talk to me. I understood that she was going through a lot of pain, so I left her alone. I was always reclusive, but became even more so when this happened.

I became anorexic and isolated, and even when I was at my lowest weight of 99 lbs., no one ever seemed to care, or approached me about it. I would later learn that several people approached my mother, but she told them to mind their own business. By the grace of God, I never had to seek treatment, because I came to the realization that I would die if this continued.

Throughout the time my mom was sick, I used my schoolwork as an escape from all of my problems, so I was able to hold decent grades. I graduated high school early, with honors, and worked a job until I went to college. Because I was raised in a Christian home, I majored in religious studies, not so much because I wanted to, but because this was something that my mom wanted. Even in college, I was reclusive, and made very few friends. I remember several guys showing an interest in me, but because of my situation at home, and the fact that I had been so sheltered by my mom (she never talked to me about guys, and wouldn't let me date until I was 18), I had little interest in dating. I LOVED men, and I loved the attention that I got from them, but I had no interest in dating them, or having sex. One day, my mom asked me point blank if I was a lesbian, because I didn't have a boyfriend. She wanted me to start dating, but at this point, I had no interest.

The summer after my first year in college, a friend of mine introduced me to speed. I had never done drugs before, and was immediately hooked. I went into it with a vengeance, and took it in mass quantities whenever I could. Not only did it keep my weight down, but it provided a powerful escape from the crap that was going on in my life. I loved it, and continued on in it, even after returning to school. I was able to hide my habit very well, though, so no one suspected. I convinced myself that it was all under my control, and didn't have a problem. I was very good at deceiving myself like that. I figured that I didn't need a man, because I had the drug.

Then, during my junior year in college, I met the man who would be my husband. He was funny, smart, and outgoing, which immediately attracted me to him, because I was such an introvert. He was very unemotional, though, and very unaffectionate, just like my dad. At the time, this wasn't a huge deal to me, because I was used to feeling unloved. I never had much affection from a man growing up, and this was no different. We dated for about 6 months, then he asked me to marry him. By this time, my mother was near death, so I agreed….not so much because I loved him, but because I was so desperately afraid of being alone. I felt very unlovable, and was happy that someone as funny and outgoing as him would even want to marry me. By this point, I pretty much hated myself, and wasn't sure if anyone else would ever love me. I figured that this may be my one chance for marriage, or a fulfilling life, so I took it. I figured that, even if I was unhappy, at least I wouldn't be alone.

On my wedding day, I almost backed out, but I went through with it, anyway. Everyone was so supportive, that I thought I was doing the right thing. As our marriage progressed, he became more distant and cold. The sex lacked any love or affection, and from the start, I hated it. It was basically just me putting everything I had into pleasing him, so that I could get it over with. I never had an orgasm. He didn't care. As long as he was being pleased, it didn't matter what was going on with me.

For me, sex was just an act that I did to keep my end of the marital bargain. It was physically painful, and emotionally draining. Not only that, but I was absolutely petrified of having oral sex performed on me. It was pure psychological torture for me. I never understood why, but for some reason, the whole thing scared me. When he attempted, I would have strange thoughts of him torturing or biting me and I could not control them. I tried many times, but every time we tried, I had to make him stop, because the fear was just too much for me to handle. I knew that he resented me for it, and I hated myself, but I just could not bring myself to allow him to do this.

The marriage became increasingly cold, and after a while, it started becoming abusive. I remember one time in particular where he threw me against the wall SO HARD that the cops were called. Several times, he pushed me so hard that I got massive bruises, and one time in particular, I remember him holding me against the wall by my throat. Each time, I convinced myself that it was my fault, and that I needed to be a better wife. When I was 22, a year after we got married, my mother passed away. This was especially hard on me, and was really hoping for my husband's support. Throughout the ordeal, he was very cold and unemotional. I remember sobbing during the funeral service, and putting my head on his shoulder. I was really hoping for some support, but he just sat there, and did nothing to comfort me. All he did was talk about the life insurance policy that she left me. I was devastated, because if I couldn't confide in him, who COULD I confide in?!

The night of my mother's funeral I spent with my friend, getting wired on speed and sucking up the grief that I felt. I knew that my husband couldn't support or comfort me, so I refused to grieve.

Throughout the marriage, he went from job to job, and refused to stick with any job that didn't fulfill him the way he thought it should. In 1994, I joined the Navy in an effort to hold the marriage together. From this point forward, I became the major breadwinner. In the military, I found myself getting attention from numerous guys, and I fed off of it. After a while, I engaged in an affair, which to this day, I regret immensely. My husband had his suspicions, and eventually confronted me. I told him the truth, and he was devastated. I felt lower than low, but for some reason, he wanted to stay married. I couldn't really understand why, but from that point on, the marriage became pretty much devoid of any love or affection. We got along, but that was about it.

For a while, the physical abuse stopped, and I was sure that things would get better. They didn't. We were in constant financial turmoil, and it seemed that nothing I could do pleased him. I did all I could to satisfy him sexually, but I always seemed to come up short. We rarely had sex, and when we did, it consisted of him sitting back while I pleased him. There was no foreplay, no effort on his part,  and he continually reminded me how unsatisfactory I was. He started convincing me that, in order to make up where I lacked, we needed to play around with other couples, and for a while, I refused. It seemed completely unthinkable that my husband had to go to other women, but he continued to nag me about this, and eventually, out of guilt and frustration, I gave in. I thought that I owed it to him, because I was so horrible in bed. We started going to sex clubs, and he noticed the attention that I got from other men. We eventually met up with a woman who was a stripper, who convinced me that I "had the look" to be very successful stripping.

At first, I refused, but my husband convinced me that it was a great idea. I hated the idea of having to parade myself in front of a bunch of strangers, but the fact that complete strangers would pay to see me dance sort of intrigued me. I figured that if my husband could see that other men found me that attractive, he would appreciate me more as a wife.

I got a job at a very upscale club in San Francisco. I hated every minute of it, but I kept it up, because I was convinced I was being a good wife. I felt completely worthless, and good-for-nothing, and though I acted like I loved every minute of it, I hated myself, and the men who came to see me. I kept going, because I thought that I might be able to earn his love back, and he was more than happy every night when I gave him the money I made. Just knowing that he was happy made me feel a little bit better, but I still felt like a complete joke of a wife.

After I just couldn't take it anymore, I told him that I was quitting. He wasn't happy, but eventually, he gave in. I got a regular job, and things were okay for a while. We had a child, and I thought that things would work out after that. I was completely wrong.

A few months after I stopped stripping, my husband started getting into porn. At first I objected, because that was the last thing I wanted in my life, but he convinced me that because I was inadequate, that was the only way he could get off while we were having sex, so I allowed it. Our sex life was as dull and loveless as ever, and consisted of me pleasing him sexually while he watched porn, and when he was near ejaculation, he would force himself on me like a dog. That was our sex life, and I HATED having sex. I knew that pleasing him was my wifely duty, though, so I allowed it. Our sex life never got any better, and he became more and more consumed with porn. When we weren't having sex, he would go to the bathroom with his porn magazines, and masturbate while I was in the other room. I hated the fact that I couldn't satisfy my husband, but after a while, I just didn't care anymore.

Eventually, he started telling me that, because I was so hot, I could make a lot of money doing porn. We could barely make ends meet, and he said that he was doing it for the both of us. He eventually sent my picture in to a number of production companies, and I accrued a lot of interest. I got a lot of responses, and he insisted that I could make so much money doing porn. He said he'd be my manager, and that he'd take care of everything. At first, I really didn't take him seriously, but after a while I knew that he was serious. I told him that it was a really stupid idea, but he just kept nagging. I could never say no to him before, and this was no different. I eventually got tired of hearing the guilt trips, and figured that it couldn't be much worse than what I'd already done. Boy, was I wrong.

When I agreed, we moved to Southern California, and my first meeting was with a "freelance producer" who was a complete scumbag. I knew nothing about the industry, and he convinced me that I had to "show him how good I was," so I agreed to let him film me while we "did it" on his bed. It was filthy and disgusting, just like the rest of his wrecked apartment. At this point, I didn't care about anything, so I just said yes and got it over with. It was the most humiliating experience of my life. I felt like a complete and total prostitute, but the worst thing of all was knowing that I was so worthless to my husband, that he would agree to whore me out like that.

My husband thought it was great, but I didn't get any work, so he sent my picture to a bunch of producers, and we hooked up with a web designer, who designed a site for me, but I had to have sex with him in order for him to do it for free. Of course, I said yes, and this was my first "movie" experience. I immediately started getting work, and did whatever I could to make money.

All the while I was making movies, I started slipping deeper and deeper into depression. I hated having sex, but thought it was no big deal because it was for purely "professional" reasons.

I didn't know anything about the porn industry, but I learned quickly.

Most of the videos were filmed in very upscale homes, but the conditions were filthy. Not all of the videos I did were sex videos, but even the fetish videos were gross and unsanitary. If I was doing a peeing video, I'd pee right on the ground. I remember in one video, one girl actually peed on the roof of the house. If the girl couldn't pee, we'd have to wait around until she could, no matter how bad we had to go. If we urinated before it was our time, the whole shoot was ruined, and we'd forfeit our pay for that day.

For masturbation videos, unsanitized sex toys were offered as props. On set, if a girl was having reservations, or second thoughts, the producers would become very belligerent. I remember during one particular production, this girl, who was new to porn, came with her boyfriend. She couldn't have been any older than 19 or 20. When it was time for her scene, she said she wasn't sure she wanted to do it. She was very distraught, and nervous, but the producers and her boyfriend just kept egging her on. They told her how sexy she was, and eventually became very irate, telling her how she shouldn't be there wasting their time if she wasn't serious. Most producers have absolutely no patience with the girls, even though being on set is a very traumatizing experience. There is no room for compassion in the porn industry.

Anal scenes were the worst!!! Anal sex is stressful enough, but having to stop and start and switch angles is murder, and it's not uncommon to lose bowel control. It's disgusting, and extremely humiliating. All you can do is try to put the experience out of your mind, but you never really can.

Production was murder. I would have to wait for hours on set until it was finally time for my scene. While I was waiting, I would sometimes go outside and get high with the other girls. The porn industry makes a big deal about the performers not using drugs, but it is all a lie. Marijuana was almost always available on set, either from the other performers, or the crew; not only that, but if I had access to it, before production, I would smoke as much meth as I could because it was easier to tolerate the hardcore sex when I was wired. The porn industry doesn't require drug tests, so I could pretty much be on whatever I wanted when I was filming. As long as we showed up, the producers didn't care WHAT we were on.

Everyone in the industry was required to take monthly HIV tests, but we were not tested for anything else. It was not uncommon for me to get a yeast infection, or even a bladder infection. When I told one of the other girls about it, she informed me that it was no big deal, and showed me a way to hide my infection so I could continue working. I worked several times with yeast infections, but no one knew. It was disgusting and unsafe, but my husband didn't care, and at this point, neither did I. I figured that if I got an infection, I deserved it. As long as I was bringing in the money, anything was alright with him. Not only that, but when I had a bladder infection, sex hurt horribly!!! Most of the time, I couldn't urinate without it completely burning.

Every film that I made was a total and complete lie. I put up a real good front, but the truth was, I despised having sex. At this point, though, it was just my job, and I had to perform the best I could in order to get the work. The sluttier I acted, the better. I was a really good actress, though, and acted like I was having the time of my life.

While I performed with several male performers, I would look into the camera and say how much I loved performing sex acts. Then, I couldn't wait for the money shot, because that meant that it was almost time to leave. I felt absolutely degraded by being there, but I figured that it would only last for a few hours, and I could be on my way. Every movie I made, my husband was there, chatting with the other performers and the photographers. They hated him. They would call him my "suitcase pimp," and make fun of him behind his back. One producer in particular told me that I could make a lot more movies if he wasn't involved. He was the only reason I was degrading myself in the first place, though, so that wasn't going to happen. I would tell people how much I loved having sex, and how much of a slut I was. I told one interviewer that I grew up in a Christian background, yet I had this voracious sexual appetite that just couldn't be repressed. That was the farthest thing from the truth.

Sex, for me, was something I did because I had to, and I hated EVERY minute of it. I remember being in this big "casting call" with tons of other girls. We would bring our pictures, and tell the producers what we would and wouldn't do, but because I just didn't give a crap anymore, I told them I would do anything. For the most part, I did anything they wanted…I had no reservations. I absolutely HATED myself for doing it, but I figured that I was so far-gone, nothing mattered anymore.

Not only that, but while I was in porn, my sex life with my husband got even worse. Even before porn, we rarely had sex….but it became almost non-existent once I started making videos. On the rare occasions we DID have sex, it was usually anal, and we always had to have a porn video on in order for him to become aroused. It was very cold and impersonal, and I dreaded every moment. I felt like a robot, subhuman, just going through the motions.

I started slipping even deeper into depression, until one day, I just couldn't take it. I told my husband that I refused to do anymore porn, and that he would have to deal with it. He was furious. He slapped me, and basically told me I was ruining everything. He couldn't really do anything about it, though, because I refused to do any more work, so he just gave up. He insisted that I do more to please him sexually. I told him that the only way I could get off was to smoke meth and pot. Before this, he was completely opposed to drugs, but because he really wanted me to be a sexual animal, he gave in. He started buying me speed and pot, and I used it whenever I could.

He continued to watch porn, and told me he really wished I would go back into the industry. I thought everything would be okay after I quit porn, but it wasn't. I remained in my depression, and eventually started cutting myself. I hated who I was, and the life that I'd made for myself. I had reached my lowest point, and told myself how much of a slut I was, and that I deserved every slice of the blade.

I did this for a while, and hid it well, until my husband finally caught me one day. He totally freaked out, and I was admitted into a psychiatric ward. I slept for 2 days straight, and was prescribed everything from wellbutrin to lithium. I was diagnosed as manic-depressive, and was kept for several days. During this time, my husband called my estranged dad and told him what a basket-case his daughter was. After a few days, I was released, but I was still depressed. About a year later, my husband kicked me out of the house, and filed for divorce. I was basically homeless.

I went to stay with a friend, and I continued doing meth. I had no home, no family, and my life was completely empty. I contemplated suicide several times, but never went through with it, because I was afraid of the repercussions. I went back to school, and managed to land a decent job, but I was ordered not to have one-on-one contact with my daughter, because of my psychiatric illness. I was considered a danger to her, so the court issued a restraining order. I was told that the only way I could see her was through supervised visitations, but even then, my husband made it impossible for me to have any contact with her.

I eventually had to move from my apartment into a veteran's community, where I met a man whom I fell madly in love with. Throughout the entire relationship, he was abusive. I made the mistake of telling him about my past involvement in pornography, and he told me that he would be able to deal with it, because he was so madly in love with me. That never happened.

He was an alcoholic, and beat me on a regular basis. I remember having to go to work on several occasions with my face tore up and a black eye. I financially supported him, though, which is why he continued in the relationship. He was an alcoholic, and was physically and verbally abusive. He convinced me that no man could ever love me with a past like mine, and that he was doing me a favor by loving me. I was convinced that he was right. On one occasion, he took me to a park and brutally raped me. He was arrested, but the charges were dropped. A year and a half, I continued to love him, and to try to make it work. Then, one morning, it all came to a head. He came home drunk and belligerent, after a long night of gambling. He proceeded to beat me severely, kicking me in the back, in the face, and telling me what a whore I was. He said that I was a total slut, and that I deserved all of it. Then, at the height of his rage, he put his fingers inside of my mouth and pulled so hard that he tore my mouth open. I was bleeding profusely. He then pushed my face into a pillow and proceeded to asphyxiate me. It was at this point that I cried out to the Lord in desperation, and said "If you have any mercy on me, Lord, send your angels to protect me." At that precise moment, he stopped. I was in shock. I thought for sure I would die that day. Then, he proceeded to drug me with seroquel, so that I couldn't leave and tell anyone about the incident. I fought to stay awake, but the sedative was too powerful.  The following morning, I left, and never came back.

Once again, I was homeless. I went to stay with a friend, and once again got involved in meth. I spent my days either wired, or coming down. I knew that I wanted to return to God, but my spirit had been so broken, and I thought I had become too far-gone, for Him to love me like I needed to be loved. I desperately needed to be loved, but I had no one, so I continued in my meth habit for 3 months, until my friend and I got into a huge argument. She kicked me out, and I was once again homeless. I slept in my vehicle for 2 months, while I saved up for an apartment. By this time, I was in the pit of my despair. I started to seek the Lord, but I felt so unworthy, and didn't know how to ask for His help. I figured that if He loved me, He would help me, even if I didn't specifically ask.

I finally got an apartment, but I was so depressed, and my life was so devoid of joy, that I felt completely hopeless. I had no one, and nothing, and I continued in my meth habit. I was completely alone, completely depressed, and completely strung-out. How on EARTH could God save a wretch like me?

Then, it happened. The job that I had involved a lot of driving, and I stumbled upon a Christian radio station that featured sermons by different preachers. Many of the messages spoke straight to my heart, and they talked a lot about Christ's love, and the hopelessness of life. Slowly, Christ started speaking to me through these ministers, and showing me that, despite everything I'd done, and the pit that I was in, Christ's love was powerful enough to overcome it all, if I would just come to Him with a sincere heart and a willingness to change. For someone like me, this was a message of unimaginable hope and deliverance. I felt God speaking to my heart, and I felt His love overcome me like never before. I had NO IDEA that that kind of love even existed. For so many years, I felt that no one could truly love me. I felt that I was so trapped in depression and self-loathing that I was a hopeless case. Everyone in my life had let me down, and it seemed unfathomable to me that there was a Savior out there who would never leave me nor forsake me.

I was so riddled with guilt over my past, that God's love just seemed too far-removed from me. I was emotionally dead, and internally exhausted. To think that the love of Christ could breathe new hope into me just seemed impossible.

I had been raised in the church, and had studied the Bible before, so I knew the kind of God that He was. I knew that He was a God who was faithful to His promises, but for me, those promises just seemed out of my reach. I had sunk so low, and I couldn't fathom that the same God who worked such miracles in the Old Testament, and sent His only Son to die on the cross, wanted to have fellowship with me. But even then, I knew that He was real, and that it couldn't hurt to gibe Him a try. What a shock I was in for!!!

From the moment that I came to Him, He made me feel so loved, and so special, that it totally shattered the image I had built up for myself. I knew that I could be saved, but I thought that I was way to far-gone to enjoy any sort of a relationship with Him. I was amazed to learn that God WANTED a relationship with me, and that He wanted to break down those walls so that I could love Him with all of my heart and soul.

I have been saved for about 8 months now, and since then, God has NEVER failed me…not even once. He has transformed me into a beautiful new creature, and I am filled with more love and joy than I could possibly have imagined.

I praise my Savior every day for rescuing me from the pit that I dug for myself. I still get depressed from time to time, but this depression is no match for the love and grace of my Heavenly Father. He has showed me what it really means to live, and to love.

He has brought me from porn and depression into a beautiful new life of love and service, and I thank Him every day for His goodness and mercy.

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