Butterfly’s Wings: How A Former Stripper and Rape Survivor Found Healing

Since I first launched Girl Boner on my blog in late 2012, I’ve been interviewing and corresoliteonding with remarkable women with equally remarkable stories. Of my growing collection, Butterfly Jones’ story is one of the few that sits close to my heart—partly because I met her in my late teens, when I’d first started modeling. Back then, I thought she had everything going for her. At six feet tall without her stilettos, wavy hair that matched her hourglass figure and a confident air I lacked, she also intimidated me. Little did I know how challenging her life was.

Butterfly quote Maya A

While many of the women I’ve encountered in the adult entertainment business sought the career path for empowering reasons, Butterfly, who donned her nickname long before she evolved out of her metaphorical cocoon, did not. Based on our several-hour chat, here’s a bit of her story:

*****

“They called me Butterfly because of the way I looked when I played volleyball,” she said, recalling junior high. “Wings all flappin,’ hair flying… I loved those games, and I was good. But then, everything stopped.”

During the eighth grade, life volleyed Butterfly a scenario no one should have to face. During a slumber party, her best friend’s father molested her on her pink and purple sleeping bag.

“He took us out for ice cream before and kept looking at me like I was the real treat,” she said. “There I was, thinking how cute I musta been, and how lucky—getting his attention… Few hours later when Chelsea was in the shower, I was screaming on the family room floor. He covered my mouth, had his way with me then just left me there, cryin.’ Said if I told anyone, he’d kill my mama and little brother.”

She didn’t even know what sex was then, other than a way for “mamas to make babies.” The last thing he said before raping her was, ‘You’re so beautiful.’ “Even though I was scared, that meant something,” she said. “Felt like I was special.”

Fearful of the man’s threats and what others might think, she kept the occurrence a secret for decades. “I was never good at school, especially after that,” she said. “My boobs grew faster than the other girls. ‘Where’s your brain? In your bra?’ kids used to say—always teasing me. In high school I learned that guys liked it when I wore tight clothes and batted my eyes. I was getting attention…figured it was the one thing I was good at.

“A teacher told me I was good in music. I always loved singing, and dancing, but I was shy about it. If I’d listened to her, maybe I’d be someone else now… Who am I now? That’s a good question.”

Butterfly dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade, a decision her single mother barely flinched at. “She cared about us, sure, but she was busy working three jobs,” she explained. “I told her I quit school so I could dance, but I really just wanted to make money so she could sleep sometime, and spend more time with my brother.”

While walking home from a neighborhood market one night, toting a bag of canned and frozen food for her and her brother, she passed a nightclub. Smoke poured from the doorway, she recalled, and the music was so loud, the sidewalk trembled.

“A couple of guys hooted and hollered at me,” she said. “One came up to me and said I should be on stage. He stunk of booze and cigarettes. I was gonna walk away, but he handed me a wad of cash—just dropped it in my bag and then drug me [into the club] by the arm.

“I didn’t dance that night, but I saw the other girls. They weren’t just dancing. They took off their clothes, swung around poles, rode them while guys in the audience drooled and nearly pissed themselves. They looked powerful. And I thought, I want to feel that.”

Butterfly began stopping by the club nightly until she worked up the courage to talk to one of the performers. It’s a “shit life,” she was told, but she could make a hell of a lot of money. “Just don’t tell Jimmy you’re nineteen,” the woman added. “Say you’re 21.”

Stashing the “shit life” remark away, Butterfly focused on what she deemed a lucrative career opportunity. She could help pay for rent and groceries. Her brother, unlike her, could have their mother present throughout the rest of his youth. He might even go to college.

“He was always smart,” she said. “And he didn’t have boobs and an ass to lean on, if you follow. He deserved a better life. He could really do something with himself.”

Butterfly compares her introduction to stripping to driving for the first time. “You’re terrified, but you want [to do] it so badly,” she said. “And then suddenly it gets easy, like you knew how to do it all along. Just have to be on the lookout for crazy drivers.”

For a while, it seemed that her dreams were coming true.

“It was powerful at first,” she said, particularly on nights she left with a thousand dollars cash. “I was on top of the world. No one could touch me.”

But then, someone did. One night, after one of her biggest paying performances, a man slipped out the door behind her and followed her home.

“I felt him walking up behind me, sent the hairs on my neck on end,” she said. “When I turned around, I knew. It was the guy whose eyes were creeping me out all night. I shoulda asked for someone to walk me home, but I didn’t.”

She was raped for the second time, in a dark alley, pressed up against a garbage bin that reeked of rot and fast food. “It was my second time having sex, if you wanna call it that,” she said wistfully. “This time, I just felt numb… I just wanted it to be over so I could go home.”

She continued to strip for several more years, eventually taking up modeling on the side. Modeling was different, she said—like working in an office versus a crowded alley. The clients were professional. They treated her well and made her feel “more like a person than a plaything.”

When her modeling agent learned of her primary vocation, he encouraged her to quit. “‘You’re better than that,’ he told me, but I didn’t know how to believe him. Besides, I wasn’t making close [to] as much money modeling. I had bills to pay.”

Struck by his words, she cut back somewhat on her stripping hours and then compensated financially by offering a few ‘special treatments’ at the club. “Some of the guys would pay triple or more for a blowjob,” she said. “When a regular I kind of liked—more polite than the others—started asking for more, I gave it to him for extra…and eventually, ended up pregnant.”

Pregnancy was the first time Butterfly felt a connectedness to her body. Where she’d previously seen oversized breasts as something to be profited from and enjoyed by others, she saw beauty and capability. “I wanted to take care of myself for once,” she said. “I wanted to take care of my baby.”

She gave birth to a healthy baby boy she named Jeremiah, after her favorite cousin. At a loss for a viable way to support her family, she went back to stripping. “Whenever I hated going on stage, which was most of the time, I thought ‘I’ll do this for little J.’ And then I did.”

When Jeremiah was a toddler, she met a young man at a local playground. “He was babysitting his niece and nephew. I sat there watching him while I pushed Jeremiah in the swing,” she said. “Looked like he really loved them, and it almost made me cry. So gentle, so sweet.”

She saw the man, Samuel—a sociology student at the University of Minnesota—repeatedly at the park. Over time they became friends. Then one day, while helping their little ones along the monkey bars, he asked her out on her first-ever date. “For a second, I thought he just wanted services, but I knew he wasn’t like that,” she recalled. “We went on a picnic and a walk around the lake, and talked and talked, for hours.”

Soon, Butterfly opened up to Samuel about stripping, her lack of experience with dating, romance and sexual intimacy (she had no idea what ‘sexual intimacy’ entailed then), and being raped. “I thought he’d think I’m disgusting and run away,” she said through tears. “He just said ‘I love you, baby’ then held me so tight.

She quit stripping shortly after began seeing a therapist. She began to see herself as a survivor, “…like, look what I’ve been through, and I’m still here!”

Two years later, the couple wed. She’s since put her brother through nursing school, given birth to two healthy girls and obtained her GED. While she doesn’t feel Samuel “saved” her, she believes he came into her life as a reward for learning to take care of herself and her family. Love healed her, she said.

If Butterfly could go back and change one thing about her life, she’d have given her mother, who died of liver disease after her first daughter was born, a supportive partner. “If she’d had help, she woulda loved us better,” she said. “We all need someone to take care of us and teach us things…like what it means to be a woman, and to love another person and be loved.

“No one taught me about my body on purpose. I learned about it from being used and raped…and what I was worth from stripping. Sounds like crazy talk now! I was twenty-four [the] first time I made love… It’s still a struggle sometimes. I have to remind myself that sex isn’t something men take—not the good ones. Not my Samuel.

“I couldn’t believe that sex was fun and felt so good!” she said of her early sexually intimate experiences. “People think strippers know all about sex, and maybe some do, hell if I know. But sex is different than making love. They don’t all know that. Where I danced, almost every girl had been raped or abused. We were all just a bunch of kids up there, feeling lost. Makes me sad. I feel sorry for the men [watching], too. Who taught them to be like that?

If schools and parents don’t teach children about their bodies and worth, she poignantly added, the world will. “I won’t let my girls or my boy have that—not my babies. They are worth something. We all are.”

*****

I hope you all were as touched by Butterfly’s story as I am. If you would like to share respectful thoughts below, she’ll likely see them.

Stay tuned later this week as I announce the 4th annual Beauty of a Woman BlogFest! And if you missed my last post featuring my interview with Margaret Cho, stop by to listen and comment by 1/25 for a chance to win a groovy prize pack. ♥

Leave a comment

5 Comments

  1. Butterfly, it’s sad your journey was so hard. You are an embodiment of woman power. Oddly I’m blogging right now about the subliminal messages society has deluged us with for so long.

    Reply
  2. lynnkelleyauthor

     /  January 20, 2015

    I’m happy Butterfly found healing and empowerment. Thank you for sharing Butterfly’s story, August.

    Reply
  3. Hers is such a moving story and one that will stay with me. She is inspirational in all that she done with her life to this point. I have no doubt she has made such a difference in so many lives and still does every day. Thanks, again, for sharing her story.

    Karen

    Reply
  1. prostitutes don't have as awesome a job as tv would have us believe

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