Alicia Kozakiewicz: It Happened To Me & Is Still Happening

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Alicia-Kozakiewiczby: Alicia Kozakiewicz

My name is Alicia Kozakiewicz. At the age of 13, I was an average girl, shy and naïve, from a loving family. Not dissimilar to many children my age, I began chatting online with friends from school who introduced me to their friends and so on. Through this process I spoke with a person who I thought was my friend, but through a period of eight months, subtly groomed me. Subsequently I was lured from my home and abducted to another state. There I was held captive, raped, tortured, and chained by the neck in the basement dungeon of this sadistic predator. He shared my abuse and degradation with others like himself through live video over the Internet. One of these viewers alerted the FBI after matching the girl in the video to a National Center for Missing Exploited Children’s missing poster. Following this lead and other digital fingerprints, law enforcement was able to locate me. They broke down the door to the house where I was being held and cutting the chain from around my neck, they set me free. These angels are my heroes. They gifted me with a second chance at life and I am not going to take it for granted.

Me at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, VA

Me at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, VA

It’s been 12 years since my abduction, yet still the area of Internet luring and child abduction is highly misunderstood. People still ask me how it happened. I tell them that it happened, and is still happening, because children are naïve, deceived, abused, and accused of complicity by a society still in denial. It happened because, as Investigation Discovery programming clearly depicts: evil exists and children are easy prey. Furthermore, in 2002, the average parent was clueless concerning the Internet and the educational system unleashed potentially dangerous technology into the classroom without a minimum of preventative education.

Determined that other children not share my horrific experience, at the age of 14, I created the Alicia Project, an Internet safety and awareness program.  I set out to educate students across the nation. Before long, I was also reaching out to parents, teachers, law enforcement (including the FBI), and legislators. I also began speaking at conferences and working with the media to promote awareness.

In 2007, I partnered with the National Association to Protect Children, testifying before Congress for the Protect Our Children Act, which became federal law in 2008. This legislation created a funding mechanism for the Internet Crimes Against Child task force (ICAC). Alicia’s Law, my namesake, is the stateside version of the federal law. It has passed in Virginia, Texas, Idaho, California, and Tennessee, and is presently before Hawaii legislature. I am working to seek its passage in all 50 states.

Today, I am a 25-year-old graduate student and working towards my Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology in order to provide therapeutic support to survivors and their families. My hope is to create protocol and best practices that will aid mental health professionals in working with survivors.

Me and my parents, Charles & Mary at the NCMEC Ride for the Missing in Utica, NY.

Me and my parents, Charles & Mary at the NCMEC Ride for the Missing in Utica, NY.

As an international advocate for the missing and exploited, media often contacts me to offer my unique insight into abduction, its aftermath, and the healing process. When desperate families reach out to me for help in raising the public’s awareness of their missing loved one, I remember how my family suffered while I was missing and recognize the importance of offering them comfort, support, and resources.

Investigation Discovery gives me a platform, which reaches a vast audience and allows me to raise awareness of, and effect change for, issues such as Internet safety, missing persons, human trafficking, and child safety awareness education. I am grateful to be a part of the Investigation Discovery team!

For more information: The Alicia Project site

The National Association to Protect Children

Alicia on House of Horrors: Kidnapped

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)

Connect with Alicia: The Alicia Project on Facebook

@AliciaProject

Photo: Alicia Kozakiewicz Comforts Drew Collins, at The Ride for the Girls Waterloo, Iowa. Courtesy: Alicia Kozakiewicz