"I was a very shy, quiet child, very typical average 13 year old girl, and I was vulnerable because of that,” Kozakiewicz said. “I felt safe online. I was in my own home. Who could ever hurt me here?"
But on New Years Day, 2002, the 13-year-old left her house to meet somebody she had been talking to online for eight months. A man abducted her from her Pittsburgh home and took her to Virginia.
She was sexually assaulted for four days before being rescued.
"You have to remember this happened in 2002, when the internet was just really entering the home and people didn't really understand it," she said.
Less than a year after her abuse, Kozakiewicz started The Alicia Project to arm students with the knowledge they need to protect themselves from online predators. Now, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children wants to bring that program to Austin middle schools.
"Kids are everywhere. They have apps that we don't even know how to use, but learn how to use them,” the center’s Andrea Sparks said. “It's very important that you monitor what's going on because your number one job is to be their parent not their best friend."
The group hopes to raise $10,000 to teach kids how to protect themselves online.
If the group can meet their $10,000 dollar fundraising goal by the end of the year, Austin based charity Lonestar Legacy says they'll pitch in another $10,000 to the cause.
"My parents were completely unaware of what was going on, if they could have protected me, they would. I had to protect myself, and I didn't. If I had the tools and the knowledge, I may have," Kozakiewicz said.
By: Mitch Goulding, TWC News