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How To Keep Your Children Safe from Online Predators

This is a true story about how I fell victim to an online predator and how parents can save their children from the dangers of the internet.

I’m writing this because I was a victim of an online predator and I would never wish what I went through on my worst enemy. It’s been seven years and it still festers in my mind. Everything he said, everything he did; I live with it constantly. 

I met him when I was 17 and he was almost 29. We met online when I accepted his friend request. We started talking and he told me everything I wanted to hear, from "you’re so beautiful" to "wow, I can’t believe a woman like you is single." Now, I was overweight, I didn’t have a lot of friends, and I barely ever had a boyfriend, so hearing this from a guy was something I longed for. 

We texted a lot and instead of putting his name in my phone, I would put his number under a girl's name just in case my parents looked through my contacts. So, instead of Billy, it would come up as Ashley, which is one way children and teens get away with talking to someone they’re not supposed to. 

We would meet up after my parents would go out, or I would say, “I’m going for a walk,” and meet him down the street. He was Prince Charming, he made me laugh, he showered me with gifts and telling me he loved me. This is called Grooming. Predators tell children what they want to hear, making them trust and depend on them instead of others. He isolated me from friends and family, making me think they didn’t understand me when in reality it was just another tactic to control me. 

After two weeks, everything changed. He became more aggressive, more controlling. It became so bad that I couldn’t go to the store without telling him or going to sleep without his permission, and at the time, he made me believe this was normal. Deep down we knew what we were doing was wrong, but he would say, “if you tell anyone about us, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble,” and as a young person, that was the last thing I wanted. 

I let him do things that I wasn’t ready for, mentally, emotionally and physically. One night in particular, my parents were out and he came over. I won’t get into detail but I was violated, but at the time he made me believe that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Looking back now, I can’t fathom how I believed his lies. 

After my parents found out about him, the police were called, statements and an arrest was made. I went to court; the detective who was working my case took my phone because she needed all the texts and pictures we sent to each other. If that wasn’t bad enough, I had to sit in a room full of people with my mother and explain in great detail everything that happened between us. Every kiss, every touch, everything ever said. 

Because of the injustice system, he walked. They said he had the mentality of a ten year old boy. I lost my friends, my self respect, and after all of that, he started stalking me. I was terrified for weeks that he was going to break into my house and kill me. 

Whee are they now?   

He is currently in jail for up to six years for raping a 4-year-old girl. They found the video on his phone and that is why he is now in prison. If they would have done something when it happened to me, she never would have had to endure that. And who knows how many victims there really were.

Me? I am now married to the most wonderful, understanding man who is my rock. I would have never made it through that difficult time without my family. They supported me every step of the way, and my amazing husband is the reason I was able to trust any man again. 

I’m writing this because I want to prevent future vicitims. Boys and girls. 

Parents, please pay attention. Talk to your kids about being safe online. I’m not saying “go through their personal belongings”; what I’m saying is, open up to them, make sure they know they’re loved and they can talk to you about anything. Also, go on their social media accounts and look at their friends. If they have friends on there who are in their 20s, ask your kids about them. If they say “I don’t know, he/she sent me a friend request,” half the time those people are not who they say they are. Same with teenage boys; if your 13-year-old gets a message from a pretty 20 something saying "let’s meet up," it’s most likely a 40 year old man waiting for his opportunity. 

20 years ago, predators had to go to malls, parks, toy stores in order to collect a victim. Nowadays, your child is one click away from having their whole life destroyed. Please share this and spread the word. Let’s try and prevent any child falling victim to predators. Remember, it only takes one click.

Friend Request from Soccerstar13 (45 year old man who’s been watching your daughter's/son's social media for three weeks).

[Accept]     or      [Delete] 

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