Our experience with an online predator
I found out today that Ss is not up for the shelter visit today. He has days where he finds it difficult to get out of bed, even after the depression medication. Yesterday was rough on him so we decided to reschedule for Monday. But I wanted to share the frightening experience we had with Ss and a online pedophile. I always wanted to share this because I think some parents do not realize how easy it is for these men to get a hold of your child. I hope that by sharing this, another child maybe saved from what my Ss went through.
My Dh and I were extremely vigilant around Ss. After getting him, my Dh got extremely overprotective and would let him be alone with an adult unless it was someone he trusted completely. I always kept an eye on Ss as well. So it was not like my Dh or myself were a negligent parents. Ss was getting more and more lonely and was being bullied in school. My Dh got Ss a laptop computer for him to use as a distraction. That was a big mistake. Ss would play online games after doing his homework. We were happy that he was actually doing something other than staying in bed the whole day.
We found that Ss was becoming more moody and extremely sensitive to any comments we made. I remember when one day I told Ss to brush his hair because it was a bit of a mess. He started crying. I felt really bad. We just thought it was a emotional issue and told the therapist about it. This therapist was not that great I have to mention. But that is not the point. In the next months we found Ss acting very strange. He was more distant than usual. And he would cry at anything. Even if we said something to him in a volume that he found too high, he would cry. Even if we were not trying to discipline him.
Every time we did see Ss using the computer, he would be playing games, or reading the news. One day, Ss said he is gay. We told him we accepted him as he is even though my Dh was hurting. A few days after, when Ss went to school, my Dh logged into Ss's computer. He does this often to check Ss's activity. He found Ss logged into MSN messenger. It is this application where you can chat with friends online. There was a chat window open with a person named Kevin. Ss was also saving his chat transcripts in a folder somewhere. I am not even sure if he knew it was being saved. After some digging, my Dh found out that Kevin was 47 year old man. He was spending 2 months filling Ss's head with all sorts of disgusting lies. Poor Ss did not know better and told him about his abuse. It was clear in the chat transcripts that Ss was just looking for someone to talk to. In the beginning, the man was acting like a 14 year old boy. After finding out about Ss's history, the man revealed his real age and started telling Ss he loved him.
Ss was very apprehansive at first, as far as we could tell from the chats. But the man was able to convince Ss to keep talking. It got worse after that. The man had HIV and said he would give it to Ss so they could be together forever. Ss's initial questions of "You like me right?" changed to "You love me right?". He would always ask that. He was desparate for this man to like him. The pervert knew this and used it against Ss. He would tell Ss that his family, us, never loved him. He said that no one would want to be with him because of what he did with his own stepfather. But that he was willing to look past it and be with Ss. He was blaming the abuse on Ss. He was undoing nearly two years of therapy right there. He also said that because Ss was abused, he had to be gay. And that he should tell us. He said that we would probably abandon him after telling him he was gay. But he said Ss should not worry because he will look after him instead. This was when Ss told us he was gay. My Dh was devastated but we told him we accepted him no matter what.
So my Dh finds the transcripts like I mentioned before, right after this. We also inferred through the transcripts that the man was making Ss do things for him on the webcam. Ss would keep asking "you love me right?". And the man would say "I'll love you if you do x, y, z on cam". Ss would always say he did not want to but the man would threaten to leave and Ss would cave into his demands. We should have uninstalled the webcam but we did not think this would happen. The bastard called Ss very degrading names and made him do acts for him on webcam that still haunt me when I think about it.
We had to involve the police. They were unable to track the man. He was using some IP address thing. I am not too sure. Ss met him in a teen chat room. Ss wanted to make friends there. We were very close to losing Ss. The man was telling Ss to get on a bus and meet him in another city. All the cops know is what city the pervert is in. That is it. My Dh almost lost it to find out that his son had been victimized again. He still blames himeself for getting him the computer in the first place. For the next two months, Ss spiralled out of control. He said he loved the man. It was very hard for us to hear. Ss destroyed his room. He threw furniture around, made holes in the dry wall. But the worst was when he stole my Dh's sleeping pills that my Dh needed to sleep after all the stress. He tried to overdose on them but my Dh found him in time and made him throw it up. He had even written a note saying Kevin was the only who would have loved him. He was in the hospital for 2 days. And after that, they had to put him in the mental institution for a week for suicide watch.
It was incredibly painful for us. During that time I almost left my Dh. I was not able to deal with it. But I knew he was hurting and I made vows I wanted to keep. I did move into my mother's house for a month with my children. Ss returned and was prescribed anti-depressants that made a huge difference. He was much more calm and was not having violent panic attacks as often. We found a new therapist who has been a god send. She has managed to help Ss much more than all the therapists combined. The computer now stays in the living area. The webcam software has been removed. I still think Ss is very confused about being gay. In the transcripts, the man was tryin to convince Ss he was gay although Ss was saying he was not sure. We are talking to the therapist about this to make sure he gets help. We do not want him feeling so confused about himself because of sick men in the world. I also wonder how Ss thinks he is gay when he is never uncomfortable around men, other than my Dh. I just feel bad because he is confused about so many things.
I wish we had known better. We could have avoided all this. I am sure some of you may think your children are safe online. But we did too. We had no idea Ss was keeping such a big secret from us. I just hope that those of you thinking of buying personal laptop computers for your kids will reconsider. Or at least uninstall the webcam software. We were stupid. We just never expected this to happen. I heard there are tracking softwares too. Just do everything you can to keep your kids safe.