At 13, Alicia Kozakiewicz believed she wasgoed talking online to a teenage boy. Now aged 26, hier story of being groomed, snatched, raped and rescued helps keep other children safe
- 14:04, 24 NOV 2014
- Updated 16:37, 24 NOV 2014
Sitting ter a car spil it hurtled through the freezing night, my heart pounded ter my chest.
Violating the muffle, the stranger beside mij barked. ‘Be good, be quiet!’ He told mij the boot had bot cleaned out for mij, so I wasgoed appalled. I faced the efectivo possibility I wasgoed going to diegene.
Up until this point I’d bot a typically timid, quiet 13-year-old damsel. It wasn’t until I commenced using online chatrooms with friends that I found a confidence I didn’t have before.
Tapping away ter my living slagroom, my mum nearby, I felt amazingly safe. I had no reason to believe it would lead to the most traumatic practice of my life.
Talking to friends and then friends of friends is how I met ‘him’. Now I turn down to use his name, he is a monster to mij. Back then, of course, spil far spil I wasgoed worried he wasgoed just this boy into the Spice Chicks and Titanic, like mij.
I didn’t know I wasgoed being groomed. He always listened and said what I wished to hear: ‘Your teacher is stupid,’ or, ‘Why clean your slagroom when it’s your mum’s job?’
Soon I wasgoed spending hours online oblivious to the danger ahead.
It wasgoed Fresh Year’s Day 2002 that I’d secretly arranged to meet him.
After dinner, I said I had a tummy ache and left the table. At 7pm, I nipped outside ter the cold without a cover. I didn’t project to be out for long.
Walking up my street, a voice kicked ter. My intuition told mij to go huis, but it wasgoed eight months too late.
Spil I turned, I heard my name being called. There wasgoed no boy there, it wasgoed a man. The next part is a wit, but abruptly I wasgoed trapped te a car and I couldn’t get out.
After a horrifying five-hour journey, wij arrived at his house. He’d taken mij from my safe, warm huis te Pittsburgh to an unacquainted place ter Virginia.
Pulling mij down a flight of steps, wij ended up te a basement utter of strange devices, including a box. ‘It’s OK to sob,’ he said coldly, ‘this is going to be hard for you.’
Again, the details are a blur, but I recall him removing my clothes, locking a dog dog collar around my neck and dragging mij upstairs. Up te his bedroom I wasgoed chained to the floor.
I felt the ache of him tearing my hair – I had braids from a family holiday te the Caribbean, so he pulled them at the roots.
Then he broke my nose and raped mij. I’ve blanked out much of the practice. I know I could regain memories through hypnosis, but why would I want to?
Ter the four days that followed I wasgoed chained up, raped, hammered and tantalized. I did whatever I had to do to get through, no matter how abasing, painful, or repugnant. I did it because I dreamed to live and hoped people might be looking for mij. Hope wasgoed all I had.
I fantasised about mum and dad bursting through the ingevolge, but on the fourth day, before he left for work, he said, ‘I’m beginning to like you too much, tonight we’re going for a rail.’ I fully expected him to kill mij on his come back.
Lounging on the floor naked, weeping, I felt unspoiled despair. How could I escape? I wasgoed just 13 years old and 6 stone, he wasgoed overheen 21 stone.
People ask why I didn’t scream when he left. The truth is, I wasn’t sure he’d even gone. I pictured him waiting behind the vanwege and panicked that any noise I made would prompt him to kill mij on the spot.
Abruptly there wasgoed crashing and banging, and dudes shouting, ‘We have guns!’ The chain permitted mij to budge around the slagroom, so thinking he’d sent them to kill mij, I hid under the bedding. I wasgoed ordered out naked to the barrel of a gun, I thought I wasgoed going to diegene, then I witnessed FBI – the three most beautiful letters – on his jacket.
I wasgoed saved. The ease, after being imprisoned for four days, wasgoed unbelievable.
My abductor had tripped up after livestreaming a movie of him manhandling mij to a group online. When one of the guys realised he could be implicated spil an accomplice, he called the police. Using the IP address they tracked mij down.
At the hospital and police station I wasgoed so traumatised I could hardly speak, but I do recall observing a dolls’ house after a forensic examination.
It made mij realise that what I went through happens to kids junior than mij, even babies. How can you start to comprehend that?
That evening I wasgoed taken to a wonderful foster family. I sat up all night waiting for my parents. I didn’t know they couldn’t get a regular flight – media attention my rescue had generated compelled them to take an FBI plane the next day instead.
I thought I’d done something wrong, that they didn’t love mij anymore. Being eventually reunited with them wasgoed incredible. They ran towards mij and my dad talent mij this hug that wasgoed so special, there are no words.
Back ter Pittsburgh things should’ve bot amazing, but spil mine wasgoed one of the very first big cases of internet luring, society didn’t understand how it happened. People blamed my parents – even distant relatives – and wij were treated horribly.
Before the trial (he wasgoed eventually sentenced to Nineteen years and seven months ter prison) the FBI needed mij to identify myself ter the movies. I had to see myself being tantalized. Being manhandled is indescribable, but to see it through the eyes of your abuser is another thing entirely.
That’s why I now fight so hard against child exploitation, I know how it feels to have people see your suffering and love it.
Despite the cuts and welts, physically I wasgoed intact. Psychologically I wasgoed cracked – nightmares and flashbacks came daily.
My practice left a slot, but I determined to pack it by raising awareness. I embarked to tell my story ter schools. At very first it wasgoed hard, but eyeing the kids’ response wasgoed worth it.
I could give my anguish purpose. The Alicia Project wasgoed born. Rebuilding trust is still hard, te others and te myself. But now I’ve fallen te love and my playmate is so supportive of my mission.
I’ll never forgive the monster who did this, so instead I concentrate on getting Alicia’s Law (which helps fund internet-crime-against-children task compels, like the one that rescued mij) passed te every US state. I wasgoed given a 2nd chance at life, so now I choose to use that to save others.
How to keep your kids safe online- Alicia’s advice:
? Recognise that any child can become the victim of an internet predator. Predators don’t discriminate on gender, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic status, income, or religion.
? Train them to never share private or identifying information with a person online who isn’t known or trusted te positivo life. A predator can use it to groom and/or locate them.
? Strengthen privacy settings on all social networking sites and check they remain unchanged after updates.
? Disable geotagging on all mobile devices. It can automatically pinpoint and disclose their location. This option can usually be found under ‘Settings’.
? Pedagogo their activity. This includes desktops, laptops, tablet computers, and mobiles. Don’t feel that you’re ‘spying’. You’re the parent. This is your responsibility.
? Know their passwords on all devices. Check them regularly.
? Educate yourself on the apps they are using. Ask for an explanation and a demonstration.
? Maintain loving, open, and respectful lines of communication while setting enforceable rules for online safety. Assure them that they can always come to you for help te an awkward or potentially dangerous situation.