Loved.

                                      

                                   Valued.

Melissa's Story

Although I was never molested or raped, I was exposed to pornography as early as three-years old. My step-father used to keep Playboy magazines out in the open and watched adult films with little attempt to hide it from me. He was physically abusive to my mom and verbally abusive to both of us. I began expressing my sexuality at four years old when I would perform stripteases for the neighborhood kids. I thought it was normal when my cousin, two years older, would “pretend rape” me when we played.


As an adolescent, I craved attention and used sex to get it. I also found escape from the hurt I experienced by fantasizing about running off and becoming a famous actress. Shortly after I graduated high school, I left the mid-west for Los Angeles. I worked two jobs and struggled to get auditions during the day. Within one year, without quality friends and no family nearby, I was thousands in debt and behind on rent. When a neighbor suggested I get a job at a strip club, it seemed like an easy way to make fast cash.


I thought I’d only be there for a few weeks, but the attention and money were addictive. On the stage I achieved what I couldn’t achieve at any audition. I was chosen. I was wanted. The attention I got from club-goers was like a drug that numbed the desire I had to be seen for who I really was and deeply loved. Soon, stripping was my only job, and I stopped going on auditions. I began sleeping with a customer outside of work. The strip club had become my new normal.


One night, driving home from work, it hit me that it was just a little over a year since I had moved to L.A. with hopes and dreams of stardom, and here I was… driving home at three in the morning with aching feet and the smell of sweat and cheap, cotton candy body splash on my skin. I was a stripper.


Something came over me. I burst into tears and got on my knees in prayer. “Father, I’m so sorry! Please forgive me.” I hadn’t talked to God in so long that I was numb to his presence. I felt nothing. I thought that He must have given up on me a long time ago.


A few weeks later, I was invited to church by a guy I had met. The presence of God was overwhelming at that service, and I was reminded that God had never left me. All that time, He had never left me. When I called to him, that was all it took. He was there to pluck me out of my circumstance.


Eventually, a couple of months later, I left the strip club for good. I have been married to the guy who had invited me to church for eight years now. I have been healed and loved-on by my Heavenly Father in more ways than I ever could have found on that stage, in that strip club, in the arms of any man or in the eyes of any casting director.