- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shelley Lubben experienced years of horrors of the adult-film industry. As a porn star, she contracted two sexually transmitted diseases - herpes and the human papillomavirus - and later had to have half of her cervix removed because of cervical cancer. She also suffered from severe anemia, drug addiction and alcoholism.

Then, after many years, “God woke me up and told me to put my story on a website,” Mrs. Lubben recently told The Washington Times.

Mrs. Lubben, now a wife, a mother of three and an ordained chaplain, wants to help others escape what she calls “modern-day slavery,” and she’s using her ministry - the Pink Cross Foundation - to reach out to those who need emotional and financial help getting out of the sex industry.

“I have suffered much at the hands of the porn industry,” she said. “But after eight long, hard years of recovery, and by the grace of God Almighty, I escaped that hell and am here, a mom of three beautiful daughters and married to a loving, warm and godly man, who stood by me in my horrible recovery.”

Mrs. Lubben, 42, of Bakersfield, Calif., has been working with adult-entertainment industry workers since 2002, when she began volunteering as a teacher and counselor at local rescue missions and prisons in California.

In 2008, Mrs. Lubben and her husband, Garrett, founded the nonprofit Pink Cross Foundation. She and her team have worked with thousands of people struggling with porn addiction in her foundation’s help forums and reached out to porn stars and sex workers through outreach.

“I built up a reputation as someone who loved and accepted them and they made demands on me, saying they needed me,” Mrs. Lubben told The Times. “There was a lot more demand than supply - even my husband was giving out of his own pockets.”

Members of the Pink Cross Foundation attend porn conventions and nightclubs, where every so often Mrs. Lubben will sing karaoke.

She said she was so overwhelmed by what was going on behind the scenes in the porn industry that she went back to help people who were being harmed.

In doing so, Mrs. Lubben said, she learned something: “They have the same stories that I do. Some of them far worse; some of the acts of violence and abuse in the porn industry include verbal and physical abuse on the set.”

Jan Meza Merritt, a divorced mother of three, was one of those people who needed help getting out of the business. She said she was suicidal and had lost track of who she was. At the “end of the rope,” she searched the Internet for “porn help.” Mrs. Lubben’s name appeared.

Ms. Meza Merritt said she was on the phone with Mrs. Lubben every day and often received care packages, as well as financial aid, for her and her children.

“I was scared because I felt [the porn industry was] trying to kill me internally,” Ms. Meza Merritt told The Times.

Today, Mrs. Meza Merritt works for the Pink Cross Foundation and said she can proudly tell those attending porn conventions, “My name is Jan, and I’m out of the industry and into the ministry.”

Mrs. Lubben spoke about porn addiction at a June 15 briefing in Washington, D.C., where she urged lawmakers to enforce obscenity laws so that children are not exposed to pornography on the Internet.

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