Once involved in the type of abuse displayed in "Fifty Shades of Grey," former call girl Annie Lobert shares her testimony of Christ's redemption in an "I am Second" video. Lobert, who came to know the love of Christ after years of prostitution, reveals that the underlying desire in abusive relationships is often a need for the kind of love that only God can give.
Annie Lobert had a lonely childhood; she describes her father as an angry man who didn't give her the love and affection that she craved as a young girl. "I thought to myself that I must be unlovable," she says.
Because she didn't get the attention she needed from her father, Lobert gravitated toward boys who would pay her compliments in high school, resulting in much heartbreak. Lobert moved out of her parent's house after graduating, but had to work three jobs in order to afford her own place and an automobile. Lobert aspired to go to college, but found herself immersed in the party scene, hoping to meet a wealthy man who would whisk her away and take care of her.
One night, a group of men wearing Rolex watches and designer clothing approached her and her friend at the bar and bought them some drinks. Lobert encouraged her friend to pursue a relationship with one of the men and to use him for his money. "I think what this really was building inside me was this vendetta. This deep-seated, rooted unforgiveness toward my Dad ... I just wanted revenge," she says.
Lobert's friend did pursue a relationship with one of the men, and soon afterward called her from a beach in Hawaii. She told Lobert that she was riding in a corvette and urged her to come share in her riches. Lobert says she knew deep down that something was not right about the situation, but her desire to live that sort of lifestyle was powerfully compelling. "It was like walking into [a] dark doorway ... I knew something wasn't right. But the lure of the possibility of having nice things and finally having money that I never had growing up, finally being someone important - overrode all those feelings of any caution," she says.
Lobert flew to Hawaii that week and soon began prostituting herself alongside her friend for vastly more money than she had ever made before. "It gave me this immense power," she felt. She met a man while dancing at a club and decided to move to Las Vegas with him when he told her that he loved her. "He gave me everything that I needed to hear from my Dad," Lobert says.
She continued to prostitute herself in Vegas, and one night her boyfriend told her to give him all of the money that she had made. When she refused, he began to beat her severely; he choked her, broke her nose and her ribs, and told her that she was going to work for him. "The prince turned dark," she says - he became her pimp, and said that he would kill her if she tried to leave him. "That night, it's like I died inside. And the next five years of my life, I was with a pimp," Lobert says.
In an ironic twist of fate, some of Lobert's clients requested that she physically abuse them. The men - some of whom were high on the corporate ladder - said they were tired of feeling like they were in control all of the time. The more she abused them, the more intensely they desired her. "Like a drug, they were never satisfied," she says.
Many of these men had suffered abuse as children, and Lobert believes that their underlying desire was not a physical one. "I believe these men were looking for love ... and missing the mark," she says.
"Fifty Shades of Grey" portrays this type of relationship - one that is based on abuse and sexual fantasy. But make no mistake, this is not love. "Real love doesn't dominate," Lobert says - "Love doesn't push. Love's intent isn't to create pain. Love's intent is to create a relationship of peace, safety and security, emotionally and relationally when it comes to intimacy." She quotes 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (English Standard Version).
"When you cross the line and hurt someone emotionally and physically, it throws unknowns into the picture: a loss of security, a loss of trust, a loss of honor, a loss of commitment," says Lobert - "[It] blurs these lines of love. It turns them upside down, and it teaches what we thought was love to become boring and old-fashioned, while what we once thought was abuse is sold off as exciting."
Lobert warns that the ideas behind movies like "Fifty Shades of Grey" can influence a culture to begin to accept abuse as the norm in relationships. "Normalizing abuse is not the answer to our pain, and it eventually leads to a darker road of more severe abuse," she says.
Lobert was eventually able to leave her pimp, and left all of her possessions behind as well. She later discovered that she had cancer, and started doing drugs to mask the physical and emotional pain in her life. "I remember laying there on my bed looking in the mirror at myself, thinking that God was angry with me," Lobert says - "I would get in the shower and I would scrub my body, and I would think 'I'll never, ever be clean.'"
One night, she decided that she would get higher than she ever had before on cocaine. "I just wanted to erase all the pain - the pain of the cancer, the pain of my uncle, my sister, and my grandpa dying within three months of each other, the pain of losing all those years with my family ... the pain of losing all my friends, losing my cars, losing everything I had ever made," she said.
Lobert consumed a large amount of cocaine and went completely blind. "I felt ... this demonic presence just come over me. I was completely alone, and I got really, really scared, and I just instinctively knew, I knew that I was at death's door ... I knew it was over," she says. She had a vision of her own funeral and saw her family lamenting that she had been a prostitute.
In that dark moment, Lobert called out for salvation. "Jesus, please save me - I don't know if You're real, but I don't want to die," she said.
When an ambulance came to get her, the doctor told her she should have died from the quantity of cocaine that she had consumed. "God must be with you," he said. "I knew that Jesus heard my prayer," says Lobert - "I laid there, and I had this peace come over me that was nothing like I had ever felt in my entire life. And I knew God gave me a second chance."
The former prostitute started reading her Bible and recovered from drugs, but was afraid to go to church because of what people might think of her. Much to her surprise, the people that she met there embraced her.
God began to heal her from her past, and the Holy Spirit testified to her spirit that she was beautiful, chosen, and set apart for Him. "I started to stand on Jesus' words - that I'm whole, that I'm healed, that I'm pure. That I'm a virgin in Him. And that gives me peace."
Lobert is now married to Oz Fox, the lead guitarist of Stryper. She felt lead to go back to the strip where she used to prostitute herself and tell the girls that are in slavery there that God loves them. "That's what I'm called to do," says Lobert - "To simply tell them, 'God loves you. No matter where you've been, no matter what you've done, no matter how deep [or] how dirty you feel. That there's redemption. You are white as snow if you accept Him into your heart.'"
The former prostitute released "Fallen," an autobiography, in February. "Redemption. Redeemed. Set free. That's my life. That's love," she says.