My eight year old believed in unicorns, rainbows, The Tooth Fairy, Santa, and ice cream in any kind of weather. She believed that all people were good and she believed that mommy could fix anything. Alyssa has the best heart of anyone I’ve ever met. The only evil she had ever experienced was someone not wanting to play with her, and that could be resolved by playing with someone else. Alyssa is a nurturer. She naturally takes care of everyone, and she knows what people need most of the time. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Because you were watching her.
I knew there would come a time where a boy would break her heart or she would get in an argument with a friend. I knew that I would one day have to explain to her that life isn’t a fairytale. But I never, ever, imagined that something I purchased to add security to our home would be the way someone got to my child, uninvited. I never imagined that my happy, funny, crazy, little girl would spend Christmas break hiding under the covers and questioning life.
Mom Guilt. It’s crippling sometimes. Earlier this year I accepted a promotion that I was super excited about. It was a big step for me. I’m a working mom with four kids and that’s rough sometimes. I work nights at a local hospital and I stay up with my children during the day. It’s such a blessing and most of the time I am so grateful for the opportunity to be home with them that I can make it through the week with very little sleep. It’s a sacrifice I made to make sure that my kids are safe.
I started to become worried when I became even more involved at work that I wouldn’t wake up right away when my youngest woke. I installed a camera in the upstairs and downstairs bedrooms. I had many reasons for doing so. I list these not to defend myself but to say that you just never know someone’s reasoning. My four year old has a history of seizures. My eight year old wanted a way to speak to me while I was at work and I felt like the camera allowed me to be in two places at once.
That last statement is a scary one considering what was to come because I genuinely did feel like I was in the room with them when I would speak and say “Love you, Goodnight” before walking into work. It’s important to note that my daughters were well aware of the camera’s presence and they actually enjoyed having it. They would wave at me, go upstairs and do silly dances hoping I would see. I actually really enjoyed having the camera. But you already know all of that, don’t you? Because you were watching us.
Four days after installation, you hacked into the camera and began taunting my daughter. You claimed to be Santa Claus and asked my daughter if she wanted to be your best friend. My daughter screamed for me and I wasn’t home. We were going on a cruise the next day and I wanted to get a spray tan. I hardly ever leave the house to do anything for myself, and I wanted to look nice on our much anticipated cruise. But you knew what time I wouldn’t be around, didn’t you? Because you were watching us.
Let me pause right here and just say that we’ve had a shit year. Excuse my language, but there’s no other word for it. We needed this cruise.
My husband’s mom is a complete nut job and wouldn’t give us a copy of his birth certificate. So, here we are, the night before the cruise that I’d had booked since June and we are having to leave ridiculously early to go to vital records and hope that we can get a copy of his birth certificate to go on the cruise. I leave to get a spray tan while he’s looking for his birth certificate and I get a text message asking if I’m messing with the kids.
….I’m like uh, no…what are you talking about?
He tells me that someone is playing “the tiptoe song” (Tiptoe Through the Tulips) through the camera and interacting with my daughter. I was gone for literally five minutes and this happens. But you know that too, right? Because you were watching us.
Side Note: And people wonder why we have mom guilt?
I pull in the driveway and watch the video and I literally can’t believe what I’m watching. My immediate thought is that someone was trying to gain her trust to either ask her to harm herself or lure her out of the house. Luckily my daughter responded the way that she did, but it wasn’t over at that point. Our story received international attention and we received backlash from the company, and on social media. The only thing that made me feel somewhat in control of my life was being able to speak out on the issue of security and human trafficking.
We found out that the hacks that were happening all across the country were linked to a podcast that was taken down by Discord due to, among other reasons, being related to human trafficking. I felt a duty to protect my daughter, but also make sure that this couldn’t keep happening to other people.
I learned a lot about security and privacy and I’ll discuss that in another post but for now I just want to address the fact that we should trust our maternal instincts. And I shouldn’t have had to explain evil to my daughter because of a sick man who gets a thrill out of terrorizing a little girl. I lay awake hoping that there aren’t videos of my children naked circulating on the internet. I have to calm my daughter down because at 8 years old she’s having nightmares of someone breaking into our house with a gun. Those unicorns she believed in? Now she dreams of evil unicorns. I mean…even her nightmares are the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. She’s so innocent. How dare you?!
I hope you’re reading this. I hope you know that because of you we can’t enjoy our first Christmas in our new home that we worked so hard to achieve. I hope that you know because of you I had to explain racism to my eight year old daughter who didn’t see gender or color. I hope that you know you’ve turned my entire life upside down and I’m forced to answer questions that no one knows the answers to. Because of you I know that my children aren’t safe anywhere and I feel guilty every time I leave them. Because of you, I’ve received comments about why I had a camera instead of why you are just a sick, twisted individual.
I’m so angry. I don’t even know where to place my blame so I have no choice but to pray for you. And I do. I pray that you get help. I pray that you don’t do this to anyone else’s child. I pray for closure. And I pray you find Jesus.
I have four girls and you stole the moment that I got to ease their fears and tell them that everything would be okay. I’m not perfect and I don’t get everything right but I had faith in the fact that I was a good mom. I knew my kids and I made informed decisions. But now they don’t fully trust my decisions. Because you thought it would be funny. Or maybe you didn’t think at all. I don’t even know who you are and you’ve taken so much from me.
I want you to know that I forgive you, and Alyssa forgives you. There’s power in forgiveness. I want you to know that this isn’t funny or okay. You saw a little girl at an impressionable age and you KNEW that she was innocent. It’s like that made it better for you. And I’m angry at myself for even saying this, but I feel bad for you. I don’t even know who you are and I still want you to find peace.
I’m getting my daughter back and I’m telling you now that you don’t have power over me anymore.