Hope After Being a Victim in the Sex Industry
By Tina Mattsson
When Jessica Neely was a 23-year-old youth pastor, she was raped. This traumatic event started her on a downward spiral into the pornography and sex industry that culminated years later with her as a Madame of her own escort agency and facing serious jail time for her crimes.
After her rape, she began amateur porn within the year. She started with escorting and running a web site until she moved to Hollywood near the end of 2008. She started her professional porn career when she went on contract in 2009, and that lasted until she left Hollywood in 2011. Neely said the myth many girls believe that they are going to be famous as a porn actress is a huge lie perpetuated by the industry.
After she left the professional porn industry, she was unable to reconcile her previous financial lifestyle as a porn actress with her current reality of only being qualified for a job in fast food. She didn’t know how to not have bills that equaled $10,000 a month. So getting a normal paying job was frightening to her as she didn’t know how to scale back her lifestyle. After a failed suicide attempt, someone advised her to start her own escort agency, and she solicited women from social media. Sometime later she realized she was being investigated by vice. She started to see the magnitude of what was happening with her life. She realized she had no friends. Everyone in her phone contacts was either someone she was making money off of, or someone making money off of her.
Neely was fortunate to learn about an organization called Refuge for Women. (http://www.refugeforwomen.org) This group works with the women who enter the program to provide “aftercare for the trafficked and sexually exploited.” Phase 1 consists of therapy and classes “designed to aid in healing from things such as trauma, substance abuse, codependency, domestic violence, sexual addiction.” Phase 2 helps the women with life skills and employment. They provide computer, resume, and interview education, and job placement assistance. Refuge for Women has a 94% success rate of women who do not go back to the sex industry. Neely entered the program November 4, 2013 and graduated 18 months later in July 2015.
Upon graduation Neely found work delivering pizza. As she puts it, this is where God worked on helping her recognize her value. For so long she had felt her value was $1600 an hour, and now she was getting tips for as low as $1. Neely had to learn she was more than just a dollar amount. Eventually she found herself speaking about her experiences in universities. She now speaks fulltime to youth groups, universities, prosecutors, etc. If you are interested in hiring her to speak, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connection between porn and sex trafficking.
Neely points out there is a very clear link between pornography and sex trafficking. Studies have shown that when men are shown pornographic images, the part of the brain associated with tools lights up. So a man may buy a human thinking only of that person as a tool for his needs, and with the faulty idea that this person is consenting to everything he wants to act out.
Also, every woman on a porn set has what is called a suitcase pimp. This person is the trafficker. “So when you’re looking at that girl on the porn set, the chances are high she’s going back home to a trafficker that night.” And the porn industry sends the actresses on what are called privates with high-end clients. It is virtually impossible to separate the porn industry from sex trafficking.
For more information on this, see this article, The Easiest Way to Stop Human Trafficking? Stop Watching Porn. (http://bit.ly/1ee0LB6)
We continue to learn more and more about the dangers of pornography. States are beginning to recognize that porn is a public health crisis, and that can help to change the discussion going forward. One thing to remember is viewing pornography is not a victimless act. Neely said, “What is done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops. I can guarantee you that a man who introduces this to his marriage, that one scene is one too many and a thousand is never enough. The man is detaching from humans, detaching from his wife, detaching from the intimacy of why we get married because we want that intimate bond with one human.” It is important to teach our children that not only does porn destroy relationships, but that there are also victims involved.
Advice for parents:
- Home should be a safe place and parents need to initiate the conversation.
- Start talking at a young age. We have books for children as young as three years old.
- Use filters at a younger age, and then as children age, use accountability software so when they head off into adulthood, the know how to self-monitor.
- Never use shame or guilt when discussing healthy sexuality or pornography with your kids.
- Establish yourself as the person you children can come to about anything in their life.
Also see our book 30 Days of Sex Talks for ages 3-7, 8-11 and 12+ to find ways to start conversations about topics like this; including lessons and activities to empower your child with knowledge of sexual intimacy!