When I turned 9 years old things changed in our family. We moved to Glendora and left the church and friends we knew and loved. My parents stopped attending church and our family drifted away from God and each other. I grew up not having much of a relationship with either of my parents, although they were not bad people. Much of our our family time was spent sitting in front of the television. Our family LOVED to watch television. I still remember most of the episodes from the 70's and 80's shows. The Love Boat, Three's Company, Star Trek, Twilight Zone, Chips, I love Lucy (our favorite), the Munsters, Carol Burnett show, Gilligan's Island, Bewitched, Bonanza, and Happy Days. I was practically raised on television and began to develop wrong and harmful thinking. My mother has often said, the tv was a great babysitter.
Growing up, I was different than other kids. I was highly creative and writing poetry and short stories at a young age. I was very frustrated because I had no place to channel my creativity energy. My parents didn't involve me in extracurricular activities and most of the time I was very bored. At 6 years old, I wrote, directed, produced and "starred" in plays I put on at my school. My first grade teacher saw the creativity in me. She told my mother that she was amazed by me and she wanted to see where I was when I was in my 30's. She believed I would become a Hollywood actress or movie producer.
I was also peculiar in the fact that I began masturbating and had sexual tendencies at a very young age. I was introduced to sexuality by a girl and her teenage brother when I was 9 years old and from then on had several sexual encounters with both girls and boys before age 18. Sex became confusing to me. Sex meant "love" to me as it felt good to be wanted by someone and receive attention but at the same time I felt dirty. I didn't recognize until later that I had been sexually violated as a child.
As a teenager, I looked for love in boys and alcohol and started having sex at age 16. My teenage years were filled with constant yelling and arguing between my parents and I. I had a mother who was mad at me most of the time and a father who seemed too busy to have a relationship with me other than yelling at me for talking back to my mother. I don't remember anyone saying "I love you" during those years. My parents weren't bad people but I felt they didn’t take much interest in me and I became a rebellious resentful teenager who acted out to get attention. But instead of get their attention, my parents preferred to maintain peace in the home. So I was allowed to do things like dress up as a playboy bunny at age 15. I was allowed to date boys they didn't know. At 15 I was allowed to go to a prom with an 18 yr old boy who got me drunk for the first time. This began a lifestyle of partying for me and I started hanging out at nightclubs using drugs at 16. My parents knew I had alcohol problems but they didn't know what to do with me. They attempted family counseling but my father was "busy" working and only came once. So I went searching for a new family and found "love" in the wrong crowd, drinking alcohol regularly and getting high on marijuana. My parents went through a lot of anguish because of my actions, and finally–being at their wits end– told me to leave home at age 18.
I ended up in the San Fernando Valley with no food and no money. A “nice” man saw I was upset and told me how sorry he was. He put his arm around me and consoled me and then offered to help me. But then he told me he knew a man who wanted to have sex with me and he'd give me money. I was still in shock and so full of rage because my parents kicked me out that I didn’t care anymore so I accepted his offer. I sold myself for $35 and a life of prostitution began for me.
Before long I met a madam who introduced me to the "glamorous" side of prostitution. She taught me every trick of the trade and how to manipulate men. At first it seemed exciting with men giving me money, jewelry and gifts but soon it became a life of slavery. I found myself having bizarre sex with strangers and began to hate it. Clients would do things like break condoms on purpose or follow me around and stalk me. One man tried to kill me and hit me with his truck. Another man carried a gun whenever he was with me and threatened to kill me if I didn't perform certain sex acts. Men made demands on me and I was constantly having to lie in order to get out of very frightening situations. I became a professional liar and could literally lie my way out of anything. I even lied my way out of several DUI's and several near death experiences. This is the standard for the sex industry and is the main survival tool for any stripper, prostitute or porn actress.
The sex industry lifestyle was getting worse and worse for me and I felt like I had no where to turn. Jesus kept tugging at my heart but I ignored Him. I figured, God wasn't taking care of me so I had to do what ever I could to survive.
This vicious cycle of working as a prostitute and exotic dancer in Southern California lasted for eight years. While working as a prostitute, I became pregnant three times from clients and it devastated me. A million questions formed in my mind each time. How could I let this happen? How would I take care of the baby? Should I have an abortion? Where could I turn to? I didn’t even know who the fathers were for two of the pregnancies. Then I remembered Jesus and I begged Him, “Please help me”. God comforted me and I knew I could never kill a life so I kept my baby. Two of the pregnancies ended in miscarriage but one of them did not and I had my first daughter, Tiffany, at age 20. She is mixed with Asian and is very beautiful. I tried to go back to doing only exotic dancing, but prostitution crept up on me and was hard to resist, especially as a single mother.
After a few years as a single mother and working as a prostitute and dancer, I began to drink very heavily and developed a terrible addiction to alcohol and drugs. Tiffany grew up a sad little girl neglected and her innocence was often violated. As she grew older she realized strange men were "visiting" me and was angry with me. I use to make her hide in her bedroom while I "entertained" clients. She also saw me in "peculiar" relationships with women. She didn't totally understand it all but she definitely was subjected to living with a lewd wild woman. I was such a bad mother, that I use to give Tiffany a beeper and make her go to the park while I pulled tricks. She was only four years old.
I began to see myself as a complete failure. I lost all self worth and hated myself for being a horrible mother. I was so tired from always trying to survive. There was never any rest from the lifestyle. Men followed me home, slashed my tires, called me at all hours, came over drunk in the middle of the night, and even attempted to kill me. To function, I always had a big bottle of Jack Daniels on hand. Sometimes I'd go sit in a corner with my bottle and cry out totally drunk to Jesus, "Please help me!", but it seemed He wasn't there. Yet I always felt a strange "protection" around me.
As my painful journey progressed, I became involved in the adult film industry. I learned I could make quick easy money and it seemed safer and more legal than prostitution. Many of the prostitutes I knew were getting raped and sent to jail and I didn't want that to happen to me. Also by this time I was a hardcore alcoholic and drug user and pretty incapable of making rational decisions.
When I did my first adult film something very "dark" came over me. I could almost hear the devil say, "See Shelley, I will make you famous and THEN everyone will love you." A powerful strange force enabled me to perform at intense levels only to come off the high and find myself shattered from the shame and degradation. I loved the attention but hated myself at the same time. I loved to hear how great I was but hated the brutal sex. I began to do very hardcore movies and only more drugs and alcohol could get me through them. It was like I had something to prove to the world and to everyone who had ever hurt me. And when the porn industry opened their big arms to me and invited me into their "family", I finally found acceptance. But the price I paid for family "membership" was the price of my own life. I sold what was left of my heart, mind and femininity to the porn industry and the woman and person in me died completely on the porn set.
I also risked becoming infected with the AIDS virus like other porn stars did. I played a crazy and deadly game of Russian roulette with my life. The industry did not and still does NOT enforce condom usage so STD's and HIV were and are still a risk among porn actors and actresses. In May 2004, The Adult Industry Medical Foundation (AIM), which offers monthly voluntary testing of porn performers for HIV, announced that five pornography “actors” had tested positive for the AIDS virus. I was luckier than those actors. God had spared me from contracting HIV. I did however catch herpes, a non-curable sexually transmitted disease. I wanted to end my life. At the time I caught herpes, I had no help and no one to help me deal with the disease. But since AIM came on the scene, the organization claims to have lowered some of the spread of HIV in the adult industry and increased awareness among performers. But the truth remains, porn actors continue to risk their lives and spread disease. In an interview on Court TV with AIM founder, Sharon Mitchell, also former porn actress, admitted that among porn actors today there are "7% HIV, and 12-28% STDs. Herpes is always about 66%. People are medicated with acyclovir for herpes, which is very effective in preventing the herpes outbreaks. Chlamydia and gonorrhea, however, along with hepatitis, seem to stick to everything from dildos to flat surfaces to hands, so, pardon my expression, but we are usually up to our asses in chlamydia." Those are her words and the interview can be found at http://www.zoominfo.com/people/Mitchell_Sharon_2462059.aspx
Nothing is more devastating than to receive a positive test for a non-curable sexually transmitted disease. I wanted to end my life.
I swallowed a number of prescription pills and sliced my wrists but it seemed no matter what I did, I couldn't die. The pain was overwhelming and I had terrible mood swings. One minute I walked around like a zombie and then the next minute I'd throw fits of rage, yelling and breaking things. I was mad at God, hated myself and hated my parents. Only alcohol and drugs could soothe my pain. I cried out to Jesus to help me and tried to give up the lifestyle but within a week I'd be back in the vicious cycle. I lost all hope and hated my life. I was completely hopeless and life was utterly meaningless. After becoming infected with herpes, I quietly left the porn industry but went back to prostitution to survive.
In 1994 I met a man named Garrett. He was 22 years old and innocent compared to me. I told him I charged money to date. He pretended to need my "services" for a bachelor party so I gave him my card. He called me often to go out but I kept saying no. I wasn't able to have a normal relationship because my heart was completely black and cold toward all men. Later on though, for some GOD reason, I changed my mind and went out with him. We became friends instantly. As we spent time together, my broken black heart started to feel again. I remember feeling actual physical pain in my heart when Garrett tried to get close to me. (Watch the end of the Grinch movie when his heart started to grow and that was me.)
I tried to keep the relationship distant but it was hard because Garrett made me feel like a little girl again. He'd come over and we'd get high on meth and play checkers and cards for hours. We were like two little kids having fun. I hadn't had "fun" since I was a little girl. Garrett and I would talk about everything and one day we both brought up Jesus. Both of us grew up as kids loving and knowing Jesus Christ. I learned that Garrett was raised in a Christian home and grew up attending Christian school. For two people who met at a bar, this was an amazing "coincidence". I opened up about the trauma I had been through and he was there for me. He knew I did porn and was a prostitute but he felt so bad for me. He said He wanted to rescue me. I never met any man like Garrett. He saw something in me no one else did. He was a friend to a prostitute, just like Jesus. We knew God was working in our lives so we turned back to Jesus and got married on February 14, 1995.
Our new life together began as a total disaster. Garrett lost his job after we were married because he was high on drugs at work. We had to go on welfare and receive financial help. Everything got worse and the temptation for me to go back to the old lifestyle was overwhelming. But God had a better idea. Garrett joined the Army.
After basic training, Garrett returned a new man, free from drug addiction and on his way to Fort Lewis military base in Washington state. I became pregnant and gave birth to our daughter, Teresa, in 1997. I was able to quit drinking during the pregnancy but soon went back to alcohol.
Every time I held my new baby, I was reminded how utterly rejected I felt by my parents and all the men and women who abused me. God allowed me to feel the deep pain so He could heal me but I couldn't handle that pain. I grabbed alcohol instead. But the pain was getting worse so I went for counseling at the Army mental health clinic and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Impulse Control Disorder, Alcohol Dependence, Depressive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was prescribed zoloft, sleeping pills, lithium and counseling. I was given anger management videos to watch which only made me more angry! I went through the Army’s substance abuse program but still drank. I was also diagnosed with early cervical cancer and told I needed to have surgery. The consequences of my past were catching up with me. I wanted to give up. Nothing was working!! But God had a better plan.
God led Garrett and I to attend an awesome church called Champions Centre in Tacoma, Washington where we were taught how to live a champion life. The church is known for building Champions for life through the wisdom of God's Word. I was taught how to live a life where I could overcome ANYTHING because with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. With God, I had true forgiveness from all my sins and a chance to grow into a whole new person without being perfect first. That was a relief! I learned that God loved me unconditionally, regardless of my past, and even had a plan for my future. God had a plan for my life? It was like someone turned the light on for me.
In November, 1999, I gave birth to our daughter, Abigail, and though I drank alcohol part of the pregnancy, God spared her life. After she was born, God FINALLY answered my prayers and took my alcohol addiction away. I began sobriety on April 9, 2000, and it was a very special time in my life. I started to hunger to know God more and to learn everything about being a "normal" woman. I started reading books on how to be a great mom and wife and how to cook and take care of my home. I watched other women to learn how they did laundry, how they dressed, how they talked to their husbands and their kids. I was a perpetual EAVESDROPPER for many years. I would be standing in the meat section of the grocery store and listen to the lady next to me describe how to cook a pot roast and then I'd run home and try it! I hung out in the grocery store just to learn!! Literally, I probably have over 100 mentors who don't even know how much they helped me. I had to start ALL OVER from scratch and learn how to be a normal person living in a normal society and so I began to surround myself with excellent people to learn from them.
I also practiced God's principles in everything I did and began to experience real joy for the first time in 13 years!! God also helped me learn web design so I could have a sense of accomplishment and use my creativity. I owned and operated my own web design business for 4 years. I also began attending college and am now almost finished with my Bachelor's in Theology degree. I did all of this in six years with the help of the Holy Spirit.
All because I chose to follow Him wholeheartedly, He blessed everything I touched just like His Word promises:
Jn 13:17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
After walking in that first day to the Champion center broken and shattered, eight years later I walked out a Champion woman healed and excited to live life! God totally restored me from drugs, alcohol addiction, the pain from bad memories, mental illness, sexual addiction, sexual trauma, and the guilt and shame from my past. God took me out of the old life, He offered me a new life, and though I couldn't see it in the beginning, I put my hand in His and took a chance on Him. WOW, that was the best choice I ever made!!
God also restored my femininity and healed my sexuality, which is a MAJOR miracle for me. After doing prostitution and porn I lost ability to function sexually. The fact that I can enjoy a healthy sexual relationship now is an absolute miracle!! God also healed me of the non-curable disease herpes. I was part of a special military study for pregnant women with herpes in 1996 and when I was tested they said I couldn't be in the study because there was no herpes virus in my blood. The test came back negative! I also am cancer free as the doctors were able to remove all the cervical cancer. He's Jehovah-Rophe the God that heals us!
God also healed our marriage in a remarkable way. Garrett and I have a beautiful and loving relationship that sizzles! Read our AMAZING story here.
God has done many other miracles in my family as well. Garrett has a great job so I am able to stay home and be a mommy and do ministry. Our three Champion daughters are being raised with the knowledge of Jesus Christ and they attend Christian schools. My eldest daughter Tiffany, who is now 17, has forgiven me and loves her new Mom. She has overcome MANY things in her life and now shares her story with others to inspire and encourage them. I am SO thankful I didn’t have an abortion because Tiffany is a beautiful brilliant young woman with so much to offer. Tiffany is also a musician and plays drums, guitar and piano. God taught her in 3 years how to play several instruments and now she rocks for Jesus!
As you can see, Father God has been working very miraculously in my life these past eleven years. I did have to go through eight hard years of recovery. I had to make the choice to start my life over and believe what God said about me, not the lies of the devil or the lies I believed about myself. God became my true Father and He taught me how to love, forgive, and look to Him for my identity, not my past. I also learned how to live a successful life by practicing God's principles in everything. Whatever God's Word said about it, that settled it for me. I became a POWERFUL new creature through the power of Jesus Christ, a Champion for life!
God now sends me out to proclaim to the world the reality of His awesome love. How He made each one of us in His image and that we are completely loved and accepted. How He sent His Son Jesus to free us from drugs, alcoholism, sexual addiction, rejection and all the lies of Satan. I love to show the world, that YES God took a porn star and prostitute and made a Champion out of her. God is the best Dad and all He wants is for all of His children to find their way back home to Him so He can heal them and raise them up to be Champions too. But it's a choice only YOU can make.
I also want everyone to know that whatever God did for me, He will do for you. And He'll do this because He LOVES you and sent His Son Jesus in order to give you a whole new life. All you have to do is come to Jesus and learn from Him.
Mt 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Do you want rest for your souls? I know I did. I was sick and tired of being beat up by life. I was tired of living everyday in survival mode. I just wanted peace and to find real love but the world couldn't give it to me. I searched for love in men, in material things, in fame and riches, in drugs and alcohol and I STILL came up empty. All I wanted was a normal life. Then I discovered the truth:
Jesus came to give you life and give it more abundantly (John 10:10).
And sure enough, I FINALLY found the life I always wanted.
Why not put your trust in God and His Son Jesus and really experience the abundant life? It may not happen overnight, but I promise you, it WILL happen. I know this because it happened for me. I am living proof that God exists, that He loves YOU no matter what you've done, and that He has a perfect plan and purpose for your life. Please click here to learn more about God and His awesome love for you.
I love you so much!