Verona van de Leur: ‘When you have no food you do anything to survive’

Before she was picked up by the pieces of the industry, nobody could have imagined that she would end up in jail and then become homeless. As a sporting star, she wondered what the future would hold for her in the Netherlands. She was named the Dutch sportswoman of the year; before winning five medals at the European Championships in 2002, she snatched a silver on the floor at the world championships. In 2001, she emerged as an unlikely leader in Dutch gymnastics, in a sport dominated by post-Soviet giants.

When she was Van de Leur, the sensation was Pride. Verona claims in her new autobiography that her parents put pressure on her to succeed for their own gain, disregarding her wellbeing and happiness. She recalls how her mother would refuse to pick her up from the airport and instead force her to take long train rides home, simply because she failed to finish on the podium, resulting in tears.

The staff members say that they were shamed and forced to rummage through their bags for snacks, while meals were hidden in lieu of proper meals. Gymnasts were also forced to practice too many routines, resulting in many injuries. She alleges that Frank Louter, her coach, was mentally and physically abusive, using his training techniques in the gym.

During a phone interview, she describes the coaching techniques by comparing them to the circus and the way animals are trained. She explains that this is how they learned, just like the tearful children seen in documentaries on the internet. She emphasizes that if you want to become flexible, it can be painful, whether it’s through weight training, conditioning, or learning new tricks. She acknowledges that sometimes injuries occur, but there are also instances where luck is on your side. In her opinion, this approach is all about taking the difficult path.

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No one allowed me, but I attempted it on several occasions. There was no alternative to giving up, but perhaps the most favorable decision was to quit, she states. “I experienced a sense of being trapped,” she says. She found herself contemplating suicide, exhausted a year after achieving her greatest accomplishments. Her thoughts were empty, and her physical condition was deteriorating, at the age of 17 in 2003. Van de Leur did not have good fortune.

Van de Leur performs on the beam in 2006, two years before her retirement. Photograph: Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images

She did not anticipate that her retirement in 2008 would result in a permanent estrangement from her family, as well as a departure from the sport. Van de Leur mustered the courage to free herself from that oppressive atmosphere before it would be another five years.

After winning two lawsuits, the judge forced him to pay a total of €62,000 (approximately £55,000) in back pay. She had learned from her father to spend her personal leisure money and earnings. Later, she investigated her prior earnings and discovered that her father had spent all the money. When she returned home one day, she found that the locks had been changed and she was no longer allowed to enter the building. She then began to explore the world beyond the confines of her gym with her boyfriend, Robbie.

The harsh truth was consistently softened by it, even though there was a sentimental element to Van de Leur’s existence during that time, ultimately liberated with her companion against society. She would spritz herself with tester grocery store fragrance before assisting with youth camps at fitness centers. Occasionally they would engage in petty theft. Consuming free food in supermarkets resulted in lengthy afternoons gathering a handful of pennies on the shore for sustenance. Van de Leur and her partner experienced homelessness for two years, spending each night sleeping in a car.

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She states, “However, in order to endure, you would engage in any necessary actions.” “In circumstances where you are devoid of sustenance and compelled to steal from stores, it entails surpassing a threshold, surpassing the boundaries you never envisioned you would surpass.”

The couple’s time in the wilderness abruptly ended and went out of sight when a woman noticed a man and a woman having an affair in the park in 2010. Leur de Van was wandering around the park when she took photos of the pair. The woman eventually confronted them and demanded €2,000. She says she can think of the lowest state you can think of.

Leur de Van was initially detained by a large group of police for 72 days, after several people argued in court that she had access to her computer and fell apart after the charge. She was later arrested by a large group of police and charged with possession of child pornography, as well as blackmail, after allegedly finding photos in a folder on her laptop.

Van der Leur arrives at court with her lawyer in 2011. Photograph: Marcel Antonisse/EPA

“If society does not embrace you, it becomes challenging to truly begin anew. However, one must still embark on the journey of starting over. Subsequently, all plans were abruptly terminated within a mere 24-hour time frame,” she expressed. “As her life fell apart once more right before her very eyes, she witnessed every institution she was associated with sever connections, and the media disclosed the particulars of her case a day prior to her trial. The consequences were irreparable.”

Van de Leur asserts that the lawsuit greatly impacted her monetary and career gains, to the extent that she likely would not have consented to engaging in webcam adult content if she had not been planning her future in 2011.

Creating something meaningful from my own life was a chance I couldn’t pass up. It represented a significant sum of money for me. I will be the one in the spotlight, as they will be using my name. The decision was influenced by the conversation I had with my boyfriend, as he encouraged me to follow my instincts. It took me a few weeks to contemplate this, as I wanted the public to ponder over it.

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After stepping into the world of adult entertainment, she felt uncomfortable whenever fans required her to chat and pull the plug on her job. In order to choose a bit of work for herself, she resolved to only film with her boyfriend while also deciding to create her own company and hire other models for pornographic movies on her website, all while the industry was hiring other models for adult films.

Depending on how much the fan wants to share, it can be difficult to explain why you sometimes don’t know their name, their face, where they live, where they work, their children, and even their spouse’s name, to others.

Establishing the company and the individuals she engaged with, she perceived this as a chance to earn money and have independence. However, as a gymnast, her life was completely controlled by the caprices of the adults around her.

At the end of 2019, I shifted my gaze away from the adult film industry and stepped into a new light, colliding with the movement of Larry Nassar’s case, which has altered the conditions for gymnasts like me.

She expresses, “Serve as the individual for them. That’s the aspect that I desire to accomplish. If I can become an individual [they have confidence in] and they desire to communicate with me, what actions they can take to enhance the atmosphere slightly for the children… Whenever feasible, I collaborate with [athletics] associations, there is still a fresh occurrence or an individual who remains silent,” she states. “Each instance you become aware of something.”

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