From Katie Tarbox to all Katiesplace.org visitors
Some of you may know who I am. I am a victim of an Internet sexual predator. When I was thirteen I met someone from the Internet I thought was much younger, and was molested. I was lucky enough to have supporting parents and help. Even with all that help, though, I lived with years of pain, guilt and fear. I ended up writing a book originally called “Katie.com” that was later changed to “A Girl’s Life Online.”
Millions of young people around the world have read my book and learned how to be safer online. [link to Katies bio page and excerpts form her book (to come)] But thousands of young people are still being victimized by Internet predators every year, and too many remain silent. That has to stop.
Katiesplace.Org is the birth of a dream. I hope that no other victim of sexual exploitation has to go to sleep silent. By coming to the site, I know that victims and those who love them will find comfort in reaching out for anonymous support and by reading the real stories of others.
Several years ago I received this letter from a young woman. It stays with me. It provided the inspiration for Katiesplace.org, where we hope to help young victims understand that no one is alone…where there will always be someone to listen and others who understand.
Let me start by saying on how much of a big inspiration you are to me, reading your book made me feel like I am really not alone when it comes to have been molested.
I read your book over two years ago. I am a victim of sexual assault myself and at the time I found great comfort in your writing. Today marks the seventh anniversary that I raped by someone I met on-line.
I still think about this every day, and have for the seven years. I still feel traumatized and scared inside. From the outside I seem like this very funny, happy, out-going person who makes everyone laugh and feel good about themselves, but on the inside I feel like a broken mirror shattered but also beaten.
If you got over the feeling of being molested, HOW? I can’t and I don’t think I ever will, although sometimes I manage to get my mind off it, but so many other times it returns haunting me inside shedding tears from my eyes.
I was wondering if maybe you could help me cope with this problem on how to forget about the past and live in the present and be happy inside instead of pretending to be.”
This letter still haunts and motivates me years later. I suspect it always will. I am devastated to read and hear about victims who cannot move forward with their lives and do not have the opportunity to share about their trauma. I am motivated because I want to give every victim an opportunity to let their voice be heard, and to understand they are not alone in this world. While that is an easy idea to understand, a victim doesn’t feel it until they experience it.
I am not sure when the stereotypes in society developed towards victims of sexual assault or even why we tolerate them. Somehow we’ve allowed victims to be conditioned that they should remain silent, and this is the remedy to recovering from such a traumatic experience.
As a survivor of this crime, I know that this is far from the truth. Through many years of therapy and finding the confidence to tell my story, I also found the confidence to call myself a “survivor.” Surviving is more than living through the pain, through the molestation. Surviving means finding the strength and ability to heal and move on. I want every victim of sexual assault and exploitation, especially when the Internet is involved, to be able to share this title.
I know that seven years is simply much too long to be a victim, too long to face this alone. We can survive, together.
“The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.” Pear S. Buck