‘Don’t let this define you’: Abduction survivor shares message with Jayme Closs, public
MADISON, Wis. — With Jayme Closs now home safe, people around the world are breathing sighs of relief. The story especially hits home for one missing persons advocate, who has been in Jayme’s position before.
“My heart was going out to her. My heart was going out to her family,” Alicia “Kozak” Kozakiewicz said of the formerly missing 13-year-old. “With stranger abductions, statistically, a child is murdered within three hours.”
In dire times, hope can move us forward.
“I absolutely had all the hope in the world for her,” Kozakiewicz said. “Hope is something you can never give up on.”
Although Kozakiewicz couldn’t physically be part of the search to find Jayme, knowing that Kozak, the Wisconsin Department of Justice K-9 named in her honor, had his nose to the ground lifted her hopes.
“I was so happy, I felt like I could be there,” she said. “To know Kozak was there, and he has a magical sniffer, so he has a good chance of finding her, possibly. It felt like such a good resource.”
That hope led to a miracle. When Kozakiewicz heard the news Jayme had been found, 88 days of holding out hope bubbled over into celebration.
“I was so happy!” she said. “I was jumping for joy, I was dancing.”
I am so happy to report that Jayme Closs, the young girl from Wisconsin who was reported missing in October, has been found SAFE!!!
Miracles do happen! Never, ever lose hope!
The world is a brighter and happier place tonight! #jaymecloss
— Alicia Kozakiewicz (@itsaliciakozak) January 11, 2019
The news also hit close to home.
“In some ways, too, I realized it was traumatic,” Kozakiewicz said. “It brought up a lot of feelings — positive feelings, then overwhelming feelings of my own experience.”
Her own experience connects her to Jayme. Kozakiewicz, too, was abducted at age 13 by an older man, then found in the month of January.
In 2002, Kozakiewicz was taken by an internet predator and was found four days later by the FBI. Since then, she’s worked with the group Protect to pass “Alica’s Law” in multiple states, including Wisconsin.
“It helps to fund the Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, like the group that helped rescue me,” she said.
Now that Jayme has been rescued, that miracle can bring hope, too.
“Jayme is a beacon of hope,” Kozakiewicz said. “Beyond lucky, she’s brave.”
Missing persons advocate Alicia Kozakiewicz, who like Jayme Closs, was abducted at 13, has some advice for the public as Jayme heals.
— Madalyn O’Neill (@news3madalyn) January 12, 2019
To help Jayme heal, Kozakiewicz asks the public for the positivity and space she didn’t always get after she came home.
“When I would go outside, they would constantly come up to me. Sometimes they had nice things to say, sometimes they had not-nice things to say,” she said. “So, give her respect, give her privacy and time and space. Be nothing but supportive.”
This is what she would say to Jayme:
“You’re now on the journey of healing. Take your time. Take it second by second, and don’t let this define you,” Kozakiewicz said. “This is not who you are, this is just something that happened to you. You are still the amazing, incredible girl you were before this happened.”
Kozakiewicz is a motivational speaker and is working with Protect to get Alica’s Law passed in all 50 states. In Wisconsin, the law secures funds for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and changes the administrative subpoena process so investigators can rescue children and arrest predators more quickly.
Kozakiewicz, currently in New York, said she hopes to come to Wisconsin soon to meet Kozak and those who helped bring Jayme home.
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