Last week we launched our national Internet Safety 101SM Program. The press event (which you can watch in full on Ustream) featured footage from the DVD teaching series and compelling testimony from some of those included throughout our program.
Today, I am posting an excerpt from Alicia Kozakiewicz, a survivor of a sexual predator.
At 13, I was lured from my home by a sadistic Internet predator who held me captive, chained, and tortured. It was a million to one shot against my recovery, but by the grace of God, I was rescued. I was gifted with a miracle-with my life, and with a mission, sharing my experience, so I might spare others the agonies that my family and I have endured.
My abduction ended with the best possible outcome of the worst-case scenario. But, in actuality, my abduction began long before this man physically touched me. It began 8 months earlier. It began the very day we first made virtual contact, when the predator, discovered in me those vulnerable characteristics for which predators search. Shy, naïve, and, curious like most children, like your own, I was confused by the societal pressures which increasingly demanded a sexual maturity for which I was completely unprepared – and defenseless against.
In the course of our online relationship, this man was able to befriend the young girl I was through his constant online presence and feigned support, and by answering my hesitant questions. Through that incredibly effective process of Internet grooming, he impaired my ability to rationalize. He molded me byte by byte, slowly twisting me into someone I was not.
And throughout this process, I was alone, my parents, like most, recognized the net as an incredible educational tool, but were clueless and unable to speak the digital language in which their children were daily becoming increasingly more fluent. Most barely knew how to turn on the computer let alone install a program to monitor activity or search the history. This lack of parental educational preparation – the cultural disconnect – has allowed children unprecedented freedom.
Had there been a training tool like “Internet Safety 101” this horrible tragedy may not have befallen my family. For in any scenario, parents remain their children’s first line of defense. Sadly, as mine weren’t armed with knowledge …neither was I. Had my parents been made aware of the incredible power of the web, they would have been able to better prepare me, and to harness those web monitoring safety softwares to stand guard in their absence.
There is a quote that my mother lives by: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” She and my father are here with us today – to join Enough Is Enough in their mission to do just that: To protect America’s families with Internet Safety 101.
Most Internet-initiated crimes against youth are preventable. When it comes to the threat of online predators, we encourage parents to use Rules ‘N Tools®—technical and non-technical safety measures to protect the children under their care and to talk with their children about their online activities and friends. Watch out also for the warning signs that could indicate your child is at risk. We are so thankful that Alicia shared her story to help educate parents about the threat of online predators. You can watch her full story here, which is also featured in our Internet Safety 101 program, and you can also watch Alicia and EIE President Donna Rice Hughes on Fox & Friends. Our hope is that together, we can protect children from these dangers they should never face so they are able to enjoy a safe and rewarding online experience.