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‘I have suffered much at the hands of the porn industry’
Question of the Day
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.
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.”
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.
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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