At 13 years old, Alicia Kozakiewicz was groomed by a 38-year-old man in an internet chat room. He was pretending to be a boy the same age as Alicia. After almost a year of online conversations, he lured her into meeting him in person. He abducted and sexually assaulted her, broadcasting the abuse online for other predators to see. Three days later, Alicia was rescued by FBI agents.
Now, Alicia is the founder of The Alicia Project, which raises awareness of internet safety, online child predators and abductions. She is also an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker, internet safety expert, and missing persons advocate.
In this episode, we discuss the horrific moment that Alicia was abducted and the unimaginable events that followed, as well as Alicia’s current work in advocating for internet safety and education.
Please be warned that this episode explores extremely sensitive topics around child abuse.
Alicia talks about life during her teenage years at a time when people had just started getting the internet in their homes, and the excitement that revolved around the internet because it was new. [02:07]
We hear about the first time Alicia was in an online chat room and was approached by a ‘boy’. This is where the grooming began. [04:45]
Alicia touches on her upbringing. [06:03]
Alicia reflects on the evening spent with her family before the abduction occurred. [06:55]
We hear about the moment Alicia was abducted. [07:37]
Alicia talks about the emotional impact that the incident has had on her, and how it affected her ability to fully trust herself and others. [20:50]
The impact that the incident had on Alicia’s parents is discussed. [26:33]
Alicia talks about her work in advocating for online safety for children and educating parents. [30:45]
Alicia provides five tips for protecting children from online predators. [38:21]
“It’s so hard to be a kid. Kids don’t feel like they’re beautiful enough, handsome enough, fit enough, wealthy enough, this enough, that enough. And the predator’s goal is to make them feel like they are enough and that they’re understood.” [05:17]
“He spoke to me for about eight months, which was a substantial amount of time in the life of a 13-year-old.” [05:36]
“You don’t notice the red flags, because grooming, in many ways, feels good because it’s everything that you want.” [05:52]
“The fact is that anybody can become a victim because what a predator is looking for, first and foremost, is vulnerability. And everybody is vulnerable, but especially children.” [06:14]
“I was raped and beaten and tortured. He kept me chained to the floor. He broke my nose in one of the struggles, and he didn’t feed me.” [09:14]
“I was one of the very first people to go out and speak about this [internet safety], and it was really hard and scary.” [25:24]
“My goal had always been to save one child and one family from going through this, and I know that I have done that. And that is incredibly healing.” [25:37]
“I was the first known case of online abduction, and there was so much victim blaming from the media and the community.” [27:13]