Pineapple Support provide a safe, secure and non judgemental place to seek support and communicate anonymously with other performers and people not in the industry, who volunteer their time as listeners.
Discussing mental health within the adult industry using facts or previously accumulated research is close to impossible. Very few studies have been made and those that have present highly conflicting results. What I am able to do is give you my opinion, based on eight years working as a model/performer in the industry and the work I now do with Pineapple Support, The Adult Industry Support Network.
"Industry workers are unable to talk to family, most friends and certainly not the person behind the bar about how their day was."
So let me start by saying that overall, performers and producers within the adult industry have a higher sense of self-esteem than those in other industries, generally receive great support from their peers and have been shown to have a higher percentage of positive feelings (Taylor and Francis).
Do people that work in the adult industry suffer from mental illness? Yes. Do I think it is a higher percentage than those in any other industry? No. In fact, I challenge you to find any demographic that does not suffer from mental health issues, particularly one in the public eye.
It is of course true that many that choose to enter into this line of work have previously experienced sexual abuse. The decision to have a career in the adult industry is not made because he/she thinks that it is all they are good for, but because it actually allows them to regain control over their sexual experiences. They say how, when, with who and how much.
Having a history of sexual abuse can have a backlash effect, there have been a number of instances where younger performers have been pushed into taking jobs that were out of their comfort zone, causing re-traumatization and PTSD.
So why are we losing so many stars to suicide and drug overdoses and why are so many performers seeking therapy and support? A lot of this is down to the stigma attached to sex work. The way the public views sex workers is mostly negative “a public nuisance, spreaders of disease, offenders against decency or installed victims who don’t know what is good for them and need to be rescued.” (Thierry Shaffauser on how sex workers are perceived). The effect that this has is that it creates huge isolation for those in the industry.
Industry workers are unable to talk to family, most friends and certainly not the person behind the bar about how stressful their day was or how some of the acts they had to perform made them feel. This is for fear they will be judged or simply because they know no one will understand. Terrifyingly, this includes a high number of professional therapists and counselors, whose immediate response to a person seeking help from within the industry, is for them to find a new line of work. Most of the time, this is not the answer!
Another huge factor is social media and cyber bullying. Every successful performer or producer in the adult industry will spend a large portion of their time promoting themselves or their studio on social media platforms. As much as this is beneficial, it also thrusts every action into the public eye. Particularly with Twitter, small thoughts are published immediately and can have hugely negative responses.
The recent examples of cyber bullying have been, in short, disturbing. Clearly there were other contributing factors, but there have been young women both in an out of the industry who have taken their own lives due to the disgraceful way in which both the public and other industry performers have treated them, publicly online. For anyone that thinks it is acceptable to speak to another human in this way: they should delve deeper into their own psyche and figure out why they deem it appropriate to act in such a way. Words hurt and they can have a huge impact on the vulnerable.
The charity which I have recently founded, Pineapple Support, is an organisation which aims to alleviate the isolation felt by so many in this industry by providing a safe, secure and non judgmental place to seek support and communicate anonymously with other performers and people not in the industry who volunteer their time as a listener.
We also have a small team of sex positive, kink aware therapists and counsellors with whom we work closely. We fundraise to cover the costs of therapy for those within the industry who ordinarily would not be able to afford to see a professional. Already we are helping a number of performers receive weekly Skype sessions and hope to help many more as our organisation grows.
If you want to support our mission, or if you work in the sector and need support from us, visit www.pineapplesupport.com.