I Was a Pornhub Model Who Was Trafficked as a Teen

*Trigger warning: This blog contains detailed written references to sex trafficking, sexual abuse and rape.

My name is Daniela. I’m 31 years old, I live near Cologne in Germany, and I was trafficked by my boyfriend. 

I became aware of Exodus Cry accidentally one day and felt connected to them instantly. I greatly admire their work and I often wish I had heard about projects and people like their team, much earlier… Maybe I would have been spared a lot of pain and would have made other decisions. 

This is my story

I grew up in a very strict home with violence and emotional coldness. At 19, I graduated from high school and moved out. 

The separation from home, and especially from my father, to me, meant boundless freedom and a completely new life. I threw myself into it and wanted to catch up and try everything… I was hungry. I started to study, had two part-time jobs and thought that now my life would be better. 

Today I see that at that time, I was only superficially “ok” and I actually had massive problems. I didn’t know my own limits, nor could I communicate them or perceive my needs and pay attention to them. I didn’t emotionally process the events of my childhood and youth. Instead, I did too much of everything else – too much work, too much learning, too much partying. 

I began looking for a distraction from the emptiness and sadness inside of me. I felt alone and far away from myself and the world, and disappointed not to find peace. It was like I came back from a war and couldn’t recover. 

Meeting my trafficker

Around this time, I started chatting to men in online forums for fun and out of curiosity. It was in one of these forums that I got to know Nick.*

Nick was 15 years older than me, dominant, self-confident, and very charming and eloquent. Until this point in my life, I had never had a relationship with a man. We wrote to each other daily and then very quickly met in person. 

RELATED: Missing 15-year-old Girl Trafficked in Porn, 58 Videos Found

I was enthusiastic about him from the beginning, his way of speaking and how he saw the world. I always thought he could do anything and was incredibly strong and confident. It felt good being with him. 

But after a short time, everything changed in our relationship.

How I was trafficked…

It started with him wanting to have more and more extreme sex. He pressured me and said I didn’t love him if I didn’t do what he wanted, or he was dismissive and derogatory when I said no. 

At some point he started filming our sex and I didn’t think anything about it first. He started behaving aggressively, began to control me more and more, and isolated me from friends and family. He forbade me from doing things. It got to the point where I wasn’t allowed to go outside alone or even to own a mobile phone etc. 

When he first hit me, I took it as a sign for me to leave him but when I tried to, he showed me the video footage he had made of us and threatened to send it to the university, my employers, and my friends and family. He also threatened to publish them online and told me that he would threaten, attack and hurt my family, and that he had all the addresses and jobs of every family member. 

I was so shocked. I didn’t recognize him anymore and I felt scared to death and paralyzed. 

I didn’t dare leave him, and he made me move in with him. This is when the violence intensified and he started to force me to have sex and filmed it every time. 

My daily routine consisted of cleaning, cooking, taking drugs, forced sex (with him and several other men), video recordings of these “sex sessions,” and violence.

After a few months, he began to invite friends of his, and they forced me to have sex with them too. Mostly everything was filmed and I realized that he and these men knew each other from the forum. 

With these videos, they made money and sold them online.

It’s hard for me to describe how I felt back then. It broke me and destroyed me, and at some point, I was unable to study and had to quit my jobs. 

I became completely dependent on Nick. And that’s when he started to give me drugs (Amphetamines and Opium) so that I could better deal with the pain. I was almost grateful to him at the time for giving them to me and I was quickly addicted. 

My daily routine consisted of cleaning, cooking, taking drugs, forced sex (with him and several other men), video recordings of these “sex sessions,” and violence. It felt like a daily struggle for survival and I couldn’t free myself from this powerlessness. 

No one noticed anything and I dared not run away or call the police. I also didn’t feel the sex at a certain point (no matter how extreme) and switched off mentally. I was no longer there mentally or physically, even though my body was there. I was gone… 

This went on for four years until one day Nick took me to a psychiatric hospital because I didn’t react to anything anymore and he told me I was just “trash.”

Only after a few weeks in this psychiatric clinic (and also away from drugs) did I entrust myself to a psychologist. She helped me develop a plan together with the clinic and special social workers. Then I went to the police and an investigation against Nick began.

I was never the same person again. Something broke in me, shattered, and I was no longer complete.

He eventually fled his apartment and was on the run for the next few years. I was not the first young girl he had done this to, and other men from the forum were also investigated. It turns out he was also wanted as a drug dealer.

I tried to recover and get back to life, but it was honestly really difficult for me. I was never the same person again. Something broke in me, shattered, and I was no longer complete.

I quickly turned again to drugs to numb myself. I couldn’t sleep at night because of my PTSD and I suffered from flashbacks too.

Although I tried very hard, I could not continue my studies and had problems finding a job. 

I had serious money issues and didn’t know what to do. 

Why I joined Pornhub

It was at this time that I decided to join Pornhub after remembering you could make money with sex videos and stuff like that. I became a Pornhub model. I didn’t enjoy it, nor did I feel comfortable, but my videos were well received and I could at least pay my rent and food.

I never produced extreme content and I really regret being active on this platform and having worked in this industry for 1.5 years. I found the kind of emails you get from men especially bad. Every day I had about 70 messages and for some reason, I read them all every day.

Most of them were humiliating, disrespectful and extremely shameful, but also sad. I realized how lonely everyone is. 

It’s such a toxic and dysfunctional platform and the dynamics are such that only the extreme content earns more money. 

Even the most successful of the Pornhub models were under constant pressure, and I think most of them were/are taking drugs. It affects society in a way that many people cannot, or don’t yet understand. You only have to watch the comments of the Pornhub users under the videos for a few minutes and quickly notice what’s going on. There is no longer any difference between film and reality. 

Standard comments are:

“Daddy must be proud of his little whore.”

“I need such a woman for myself.”

“I would take them even harder.”

“This is how you must treat women.” 

Violence is normalized by porn and this dynamic creates a machine that is constantly calling for more violence and more extreme practices – it’s like an addiction for these consumers. But they don’t recognize the fact that in many videos, you can clearly see how humiliated and injured the woman is. That’s what’s required. That is what turns them on. They don’t care or reflect on it. There’s no empathy. No ethics. 

Pornhub’s Downfall

For a long time I knew absolutely nothing about Pornhub’s background or what abominable things they were involved in. I found out by chance on the day that Pornhub suddenly deleted videos uploaded by amateurs. They actually sent out an email to their models that referenced Exodus Cry and the #Traffickinghub petition, and that’s how I first heard about Exodus Cry!

As I started learning more, I was stunned and sickened, and quickly prepared my departure from the platform. One day, I uploaded Exodus Cry’s animated video about Pornhub and also some pictures of Exodus Cry on my Pornhub profile, as well as a statement from me to my “consumers.” 

It took Pornhub all of 10 minutes to delete the Exodus Cry video, pictures and the statement, after which my profile was locked or deleted. Fortunately, I was able to delete my own porn videos and photos beforehand. 

RELATED: The One Video Pornhub Doesn’t Want You to See

What will always embarrass me is being part of this industry, even if only for a short time. 

It will haunt me forever that I don’t know on which sites all my videos are available for everyone to watch. Especially when it comes to the extreme sex videos from early on, where I was being raped.

It’s incredible to put that shame and fear and anger into words. I hate myself and the world, and sometimes men in general. The idea that these videos are out there for the whole world makes me sick, but I’m working on my feelings. 

I don’t want to have anything to do with this porn industry anymore.

Fortunately, I have been drug-free since leaving and have started a new social work degree that I will soon successfully complete. I also got a new part-time job. 

I still sometimes struggle with PTSD and anxiety attacks. I try to distract myself with sports and try not to relapse. I’m also working on rebuilding a healthy relationship with my body, but often I feel far away from myself and my body—as if there was a separation between me, my body and my feelings. I feel like I’m divided into three parts. 

But I look optimistically into the future. As a social worker, I want to save and warn others of such a fate. 

Nick was recently sentenced to 4 years in prison and to several years in a forensic hospital. He was classified as dangerous and will not spend the next decade in freedom. 

**Exodus Cry has recently had the privilege of connecting with Dani and hearing her story. We’ve been able to provide her with some of the nation’s best trauma therapy and she had her first session last week! She texted: “Just wanted to let you know that today I had my first online therapy session. It was really amazing and the woman was so kind and caring. I am so grateful to be given the chance to work with her.”

There’s nothing more beautiful than a life restored and you can make that happen in lives that need it most in 2023. By giving today, you will be helping provide top level trauma-informed therapy for sex trafficking survivors.

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