PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two women who know all too well what the three women who escaped a home in Cleveland after being held for more than 10 years talked to KDKA’s Bill Rehkopf.
Alicia Kozakiewicz knows what it’s like to be kidnapped. She was lured away from her Crafton Heights home by an internet predator over a decade ago. She was taken to the man’s home in northern Virginia were she described the basement she was kept in as a “dungeon.”
Kozakiewicz ironically was attending an Amber Alert conference in Jacksonville Florida where was using one of the victims, Amanda Berry, in her presentation as she goes around the country warning of the dangers of kidnappers and online predators.
She says she feels, “Amazing and that it’s a miracle,” that they were found.
The conference she attended had about 40 families whose child is missing. Kozakiewicz says families are searching, “tirelessly and not giving up hope and when they heard this news you could see their face light up and think ‘oh my gosh that could be my child’ and it gave them a whole new sense of hope.”
Kozakiewicz gave some insight into what she thinks the women are feeling now and will feel in the weeks and months to come.
“They might just be overwhelmed with happiness,” she said.
She added that the pain is there but its overshadowed by seeing your family.
“I’m sure they’ll suffer from nightmares, flashbacks and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” she said. “There may be some very hard days ahead but it will get better.”
She says they will get through with a great support structure.
Tanya Kach knows exactly what it’s like to be kidnapped and trapped in a home, too. She was taken when she was 14 years old.
She was held captive by a man for 10 years keeping her from her McKeesport home.
She eventually freed herself. She says the first moments after her escape were full of chaos and “worry because you still think he’s still going to come after you and he’s still going to kill you.”
Kach says that it’s the mind games and fear that kept her from escaping all those years.
She had a chance one time when the police came to the man’s house. He put her in a cardboard box in the basement and when asked she just didn’t escape she said, “it’s fear, you think he is going to kill you or the police officer — they brain wash you.”
Kach says that trust is one of the hardest things to get back but, “you have to hold your head high and know it’s not your fault.”
With everything she has been through she says she can’t “thank everybody enough, those who support me.”
Lisa Kozakiewicz is the president and founder of “The Alicia Project” that aims to inform people the dangers of online predators.
Tanya Kach is the author of “Memoir of a Milk Carton Kid” which recounts her 10-year captivity.