Ashley Dupré Speaks Out for First Time

06/23/2008 at 04:20 PM EDT

Ashley Dupré Speaks Out for First Time
Ashley Dupré
Ashley Dupré is speaking out for the first time since the New York prostitution scandal, paying tribute to her supporters and telling her critics that they only make her stronger.

"Thank you all so much for taking the time to send me a bit of strength and inspiration via e-mail or comment," Dupré writes on her MySpace blog, in which she calls her mood "Thankful." "Your words have touched me, and I thank you for that ... with all my heart, I love you guys!!! :)"

The 23-year-old call girl who played a major role in bringing down Gov. Eliot Spitzer had been nearly invisible since March 12, when she was identified.

But over the weekend the aspiring singer responded to the many people who left supportive messages on her account.

Dupré also left a comment for her critics: "And to all the not so kind words ... I love you too, because it makes me push myself and want it even more. 'Hard times don't last ... only strong people.'"

Since the scandal broke, Dupré – born Ashley Youmans in 1985 – has been spending some of her time trying to escape the controversy by hanging out with her mother and getting spa treatments.

In April, she filed a $10-million lawsuit against Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis, claiming that the company was exploiting nude images of her from when she was 17.

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