Adult actor Ashley Fires was one of the first performers to speak out against porn performer James Deen after his ex-girlfriend Stoya accused him of sexual assault in a November 28 tweet.
Fires told BuzzFeed News late last month that said she'd been "blindsided" by Deen in a communal shower at the studios of Kink.
On Thursday, after nine women have come forward to allege some form of sexual assault against Deen, Fires is speaking out again to provide "closure" to the allegations and address the adult industry's ongoing crisis of consent.
In an open letter shared with BuzzFeed News, Fires alleges again that Deen "forcefully assaulted" her, and that fear, among other things, stopped her from going to law enforcement. (Deen's representative did not comment; Deen has denied the accusations against him.)
"I didn't think the police would believe me. The treatment of sex workers by law enforcement is well known," Fires wrote. "Also, I was new to doing boy-girl work. I was afraid. I was worried about the future of my career. I was in shock. I did not know what to do. I was also ashamed. Shame combined with fear makes silence easy."
The letter also challenges the adult industry to grapple with issues of on-set culture and to improve the safety of existing work environments. "The existing power structure is askew. This imbalance affects how performers are treated and how our voices are heard," Fires wrote.
"It's time for change. It is time for space to be made in the industry for a safer work environment; an environment that gives performers a voice to be heard."
Here is her letter in its entirety:
Almost three weeks ago I was eating pumpkin pie with my family in Vermont and everything was right in my world: now everything has changed.
I am sitting alongside my father's bed in the hospital. I am writing this letter to be done with it. For closure. Something about a family member suffering really puts things in perspective.
There is no evidence for the sexual assault that happened to me. It was not rape. I never claimed to have been raped. But had I froze longer, who knows?
What happened to me in the bathroom as I was getting out of the shower happened without cameras and without corroboration. We were the only two people in the bathroom. James Deen forcefully assaulted me. There were no blurred lines or flirtation. He was not invited to come near my body. Suddenly and unexpectedly he tried to have sex with me. I was shocked as I had not previously given him any indication that I was interested in him. I thought I was alone until I was violently pushed from behind in to a sink. It happened and I failed to report it. Why didn't I file a police report? Good question. I didn't think the police would believe me. The treatment of sex workers by law enforcement is well known. Also, I was new to doing boy girl work. I was afraid. I was worried about the future of my career. I was in shock. I did not know what to do. I was also ashamed. Shame combined with fear makes silence easy. I tried hard to forget the experience after it seemed to not bother anyone in the adult industry, that I felt violated enough to never work with this person. I even tried to forget the times he bullied me to not speak about it.
Unfortunately, in my case, the statute of limitations has prevented me from filing charges. I have no legal recourse against James Deen, who has been accused by at least nine other women of assault, sexual assault, and rape. I have not been compensated for my account of what happened. Not a penny has been earned from this negative experience I shared.
I will forget all of the horrible and ignorant comments I have received on social media. I will also forget the backlash within the adult industry. Back to business as usual.
To share my experience is to reveal a vulnerable part of myself to the world. My truth is a part of an effort to create a space for adult entertainers to be vulnerable. To have a voice. To be heard.
Before sharing my truth I had a level of attention I was comfortable with. I am not comfortable with this type of attention. It breaks my heart that people think I would want to be known for or associated with anything this heinous. I do not seek fame nor do I stand to gain from this ordeal. The truth is an expensive gift and I will know the cost for a while.
I was also reluctant to come forward because I am protective of the adult industry. I did not want to feed into the misconceptions and negative stereotypes of sex workers and porn performers. I did not want to shed an unflattering light on my beloved industry.
The decision to speak up came from a bubbling pot of emotions I had not acknowledged until seeing Stoya's tweets. They caused the courage to stir. It came from an instinct that had been ignored: a disgust with the cavalier attitudes I faced when choosing not to perform with someone who had violated my body, my space, and my personal sense of safety.
Why social media? Because that's the future. Embrace it and move on. I am proud of everything I have done and said. I am proud of the courageous women who shared solidarity. I gave courage to women who were abused at his hand to speak up. I'm given the consolation prize of knowing that my truth was finally heard. It was heard loud and clear by a bright, listening audience.
What happened to me speaks to many improvements needed for the adult industry to thrive. The existing power structure is askew. This imbalance affects how performers are treated and how our voices are heard. It's time for change. It is time for space to be made in the industry for a safer work environment; an environment that gives performers a voice to be heard. At the very least I hope I have created even just a small space for change.
Are there other options besides smiling and nodding as your check is dangling in front of you? While knowing that if you speak out you will be labeled as difficult or not hired again? Many performers have reached out to me during this time and wanted to come forward with their own personal experiences but did not due to fear of being blacklisted or losing work.
I'm saddened by this. Disappointed that the "blame the victim" mentality infects so many people. It is wrong to blame the person or people who protest the treatment you have become complacent with. I will not make excuses for others' inappropriate behavior because of context. I will not be part of the problem. Complacency and misleading arguments about context are the tools used by enablers to provide shade and happy hunting grounds for monsters. No matter what the producer says, or the director wants, or what you think the culture on set will permit, assault is unacceptable. Assault, sexual assault, and rape are always crimes. Even in porn, this line is clear.