Lisa and I live very near each other in Orange County, California, and have been friends for years. One day last December, Lisa met this guy in a chat room who lived in our area. They e-mailed each other and talked on the phone for about a week. She liked that he seemed so normal and that he was a fan of one of her favorite bands, Backstreet Boys. I told her to be careful because guys on the internet can be scary. She said, "Don t worry about it," and never got a clear plan to meet him.
On December 21, Lisa called me screaming , "He beat me!" I rushed over to her house. She said she d met the guy from the internet at a local mall. He asked her if she wanted to meet some of his friends; she agreed, and they got into his car. They were talking about music, when suddenly he pulled a knife on her. Then he parked the car and raped and beat her for three hours. Thank God, he let her go. Even though she was blindfolded and tied up, she was able to flag down a motorist, who brought her to a hospital.
As Lisa told me the story, she showed me what he had done to her. Whippings from a belt had left black and purple bruises around her waist and butt . There were also belt marks on her face. One of her front teeth was gone. He had carved an X on her forehead with a knife.
I just cried. I was so sad, but at the same time, I was angry. I wanted to do something to help catch the man who had done this to my best friend. I just didn t know how to go about it. Lisa didn t know his name, his age or anything about him.
Three days later, I told Lisa I wanted to try to find her rapist. I asked for his screen name -Punkrawkjock2001-and typed it into the computer. To my great surprise, he was online! It was about 2:30 PM, and I sent him an instant message saying, "Hey, what s up?" He immediately wrote back and asked where I got his screen name. I lied and said I d seen him in a chat room the night before.
Almost immediately, he said, "Want to hang out?" I called Lisa and told her to call the police and tell them I d found the guy, and that he wanted to meet me. The police told her I should try to get his e-mail address because they couldn t trace just a screen name. Anxiously, I sent him an e-mail asking him to send a photo-and he actually did it! I forwarded the picture to Lisa, who was on the phone with the police, and she messaged me back saying that it wasn t him. But at least now we had an e-mail address for him. I wrote back, "You re hot!" He fell for it and asked again if I wanted to hang out.
I knew the police would want as much information as possible, so I said, "Let s talk on the phone first." I was so caught up in the moment that I didn t really think about the danger of giving this man my phone number. Just before he called, my mother came home. I told her what was going on. She was horrified and told me not to get involved, but then the phone rang and it was too late to turn back.
Punkrawkjock2001 and I talked on the phone for about half an hour. He suggested we meet at four o clock outside the local mall-the same place he d met Lisa! I asked him what he would be wearing and what kind of car he drove, so the police would recognize him. Then I spent the next hour pacing around the house.
At the same time, Lisa and the police were waiting at the mall. At about four o clock, Punkrawkjock2001 pulled up the arcade. Lisa identified him at once, and the police surrounded his car. They found a knife in the car-and he was wearing a belt similar to the one used to beat Lisa. She called me when she got home and screamed, "We got him!" I was so happy. She s gotten some power back.
Lisa and I are a lot closer because of what happened. The attacker is waiting for trial. While Lisa s physical bruises are gone, the emotional scars will be there forever. She doesn t use the internet anymore, I go on and download music, but that s it. I look at people differently now, thinking, "He could be someone like that." I ve learned to be much more careful. We both have.