9-year-old “Ava” started chatting with a boy online who seemed to be very nice and only a few years older than her. Ava grew up in an abusive environment in her home in Central America, so she turned to social media to find connection and friends.
After Ava and this boy had developed a little relationship online, the boy asked for explicit pictures of her. She replied to his request.
After she sent the first picture, the boy on the other end of the chat revealed who he truly was: a 70-year-old man in Florida. “If you don’t send me more pictures, I will post these publicly and send them to everyone you know.”
At only 9 years old, Ava felt like she had no other choice. She complied with his requests and sent him the pictures he wanted. Unsurprisingly, he uploaded the pictures of Ava online anyway.
This predator, miles and miles away from this little girl, was still able to exploit her repeatedly.
Law enforcement found the pictures that the man had uploaded and worked to identify and rescue Ava. Not only was she being exploited online, but she was being continually abused by close family members. She was placed in an aftercare home that O.U.R. supports in Central America.
Last month, the O.U.R. Aftercare Team joined Ava and the other survivors in the home for Ava’s quinceañera. They enjoyed food and music together. Ava had many ups and downs that day as she processed getting older and remembering all that she had been through.
Healing is not a linear process. This man in Florida has made Ava’s life incredibly difficult. We are in awe of Ava’s strength and determination, and O.U.R. Aftercare will continue to stand by her and support her on her healing journey.
There are thousands of predators online looking for vulnerable children to exploit. Visit https://bit.ly/2WrQY2H for 5 resources to help you navigate conversations with children, friends, and family about staying safe online.