Alexis: My True Story of Being Seduced By an Online Predator

Overview

In six words, an instant message changed Alexis forever.

After a rocky junior year of high school, Alexis Singer was lonely, stressed out, and vulnerable--the ideal target for an older man with bad intentions. When a message popped up on her computer screen one night from a message board acquaintance, she could never have known that by responding she was making a choice that would change her forever.

By posing as a friend and confidant, the man...

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Overview

In six words, an instant message changed Alexis forever.

After a rocky junior year of high school, Alexis Singer was lonely, stressed out, and vulnerable--the ideal target for an older man with bad intentions. When a message popped up on her computer screen one night from a message board acquaintance, she could never have known that by responding she was making a choice that would change her forever.

By posing as a friend and confidant, the man gave Alexis the attention she desperately craved and weaseled his way into her life in an unimaginable way. Within weeks, Alexis was sucked into an emotionally dependent relationship, engaging in cybersex and sending him explicit photos of herself. Somewhere along the way, she lost who she was and put her dreams for the future, relationships with friends and family, and psychological well-being on the line.

'Not much about that first online conversation we had sticks out in my head except for his surprising interest in me. I probably would have forgotten about it if it weren't for that. I would have dismissed him as just another creep.'

Because Truth Is More Fascinating Than Fiction

www.louderthanwordsbooks.com

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Jennifer McIntosh
The Louder Than Words series features memoirs written by a variety of teens. All of the teens are dealing with difficult problems—obscure stress disorders, chronic illness, murder of a parent, severe anxiety, drugs and mental illness, and so on. Each book is written by a teen, edited by Deborah Reber, and includes discussion questions. Close-up photographs of teen girls with mesmerizing, colorful eyes (not the authors) are on the cover of each book, luring readers. Alexis Singer is a senior in high school who should be concentrating on college applications but is having a cybersex affair with a married man instead in Alexis: My True Story of Being Seduced by an Online Predator. Luckily for her, this man lives many states away, and she never has any physical contact with him. That does not make her story any less scary. She starts out as a normal teen on the Internet, hanging out in theater chat rooms and message boards, and winds up sending explicit photos of herself to a married man through instant messenger. While Singer tells her story as a traditional narrative, Hannah Westberg writes a series of vignettes showcasing her downward spiral in Hannah: My True Story of Drugs, Cutting, and Mental Illness. Westberg is in and out of hospitals and rehab centers until she finally gets a diagnosis she can work with and focus on healing. Teens who love to read really depressing books will be attracted to her painful story of abandonment and low self-esteem. While neither book is spectacularly written, both are important for teens and parents to read. Teens will naturally be drawn to the high-interest, high-drama titles. Parents will be interested in reading firsthand accounts of the issues teens face today and what they can and cannot do to help. High school and public libraries should make these books available in their teen collections. Reviewer: Jennifer McIntosh
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780757315299
  • Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/2/2010
  • Series: Louder Than Words Series
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 627,284
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexis Singer attended the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts as a writer and is currently a sophomore at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, studying political science and women's studies. She is nineteen years old.
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Read an Excerpt

I WISH I HAD KNOWN THE FUTURE when an instant message (IM) popped up in the top right corner of my laptop screen on June 29, 2007. In that moment, I wish I had been able to foresee all the consequences of one minor exchange and closed down that window. If I could go back now and see that message and predict the two and a half years of trauma it would cause, the relationships it would ruin, and the lives it would change, I would have ignored it, shut off my computer, and cracked open a book. Maybe I would have doused my seventeen-inch PowerBook with lighter fluid and set it ablaze. If I had known what would happen because of one seemingly inconsequential conversation, I would have quit the Internet for good, forgotten technology existed, and started writing all of my papers on stone tablets by candlelight.

But on June 29, 2007, I didn't close my computer when a little six-word message popped up in the corner of my screen. I was in no position to ignore human contact, no matter how distant and shady it was. I was fresh off my junior year of high school, by far the most stressful year of my life. All of the friends I'd had for years had outgrown me, leaving me to flail helplessly in the already choppy sea of high school. I had broken up with my first and only boyfriend six months earlier, ending an on-and-off relationship that had lasted over three years, and I had been hopelessly single ever since. All in all, I had suffered through the last six months trying to balance the SAT, the never-easy process of making new friends, AP courses, a father who was divorcing my stepmother, and a part-time job that I dreaded even more than everything else in my life. And through it all, I found myself sitting on my bed every night staring at my computer screen, riding the waves of each daily crisis completely and totally alone.

That may have been an attitude rather than a circumstance, but in high school we're all loners, at least from our own perspectives. That's the way it works. I didn't have a single friend in high school who didn't spend several hours a day with their eyes glued to a monitor. It's escapism in its most luring form, especially for people who have a hard time being themselves in person. We all find our niche. For me, it was a message board I discovered my sophomore year—a section of a theater message board pushed off to the side for those of us who wanted to talk about real life, politics, and entertainment. Despite some harassment from a particularly mean and sarcastic user (every message board has at least one), I fell in pretty quickly there. In no time I made a few 'friends,' in the loose way you can call people you've never seen face-to-face and whose last names you do not know, friends. I found a rhythm there. It was a place to go and escape the difficulty of everyday life. When I didn't feel like talking to my parents about my English essay on Death of a Salesman, I could go onto The Board (as it became known in my head) and talk about how badly I thought George W. Bush was screwing up or how last week's episode of The Office wasn't as funny as the rest of the season. And there were even people there who cared about what I had to say from time to time. No matter what kind of day I was having, I could usually count on someone posting an approving response to my hilarious comment about Britney Spears.

I had found The Board the previous summer while spending most of my days barricaded in my room. My father, who got married in 2004 and split with his now-ex-wife in late 2005, was unavailable most of the time and my friends, the few who hadn't stopped liking me in the past year, were off doing fun things with their families or each other and leaving me out. So, I sat in my room and surfed the Web. At the time I was into theater and stumbled onto prominent websites that covered the theater world. When I found The Board, I attached myself to it like a parasite, trying my best to fit in with the ragtag users of the site and making fast friends with several of the regulars, exchanging occasional e-mails or instant messages. While all my real-life friends were separating themselves from me, I was able to talk to people I had never met about the complicated sorrows of my day-to-day life, from the deteriorating relationship with the guy who was my boyfriend at the time to my concerns about my father. None of them asked anything inappropriate of me. They would talk to me about their relationship problems, they would read my writing and critique it, they would joke with me. Their interest in my life was a comfort.

My junior year had left me feeling devastated, not to mention with a lower GPA and minus one rocky relationship that had at least been something to fall back on, on the worst of days. I had walked out of school on the last day that year in a daze. I went home dreading the next two months of solitude. I sat on my bed and watched movies every day. I spent more hours of the day asleep than awake. I actually looked forward to the ten hours every weekend I spent at my job cleaning out coffeepots and sweeping floors.

For the first two weeks of the summer, I was totally lost in my own little world. I spent hours upon hours every day on The Board, refreshing every few seconds, hoping someone else would be as bored as I was and reply to my posts. By the end of June, I would have been happy to hear from Satan himself if he could have given me an hour of stimulating conversation. I was desperate.

So to say that I actually hesitated for a moment when that instant message popped up on my screen is giving me a lot of credit. If it had been from anyone else, I probably would have typed a response so fast it would have been indecipherable from all the typos. But it was from one person in particular. I knew the screen name—it was the same username he used on The Board. It was a screen name I was so familiar with that I had begun purposely avoiding it over the past few months. My fingertips paused over the keys for a moment while I read and pondered the message.

When I said earlier that I had gotten into the rhythm of The Board with relatively no trouble except for one user, I was talking about this guy. He was sarcastic. He was vindictive. He never wrote in capital letters. He was the gimmicky sort who prided himself on two things: his status as the indisputable King of The Board and his political views, which were so far to the right they would make Ann Coulter blush. We had cultivated a casual loathing of each other, though I was mostly intimidated by him. He hated my political beliefs and tended to make fun of my age. Basically, he took everything I said terribly seriously and enjoyed mocking me way too much. He had insulted me so viciously at one point I was almost certain it made me cry.

©2010. Alexis Singer. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Alexis. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2010

    Alexis Should be Required Reading for Teens AND Parents

    Teens today are more advanced than ever; or so we often think given their mastery of the internet and cell phones and technology. Alexis Singer reminds us with her powerful story that for all their awareness that teens are still teens and can be vulnerable to those among us whose moral compasses are missing magnets. Alexis shares what starts as a typical story of teen angst and discovery for a girl in transition in her life. Before she is through, she has weaved a harrowing cautionary tale of the dangers of the internet.

    A fairly typical teen going through her high school dramas, sixteen yer-old Alexis retreats from the rejection she finds in reality to the safety of cyberspace. There she finds a welcoming world of new friends, new adventures and the validation she craves. Unfortunately, she also finds an older man with bad intentions who poses as her friend, gains her trust and warps her world in incalculable ways. Soon she's on a downward spiral of obsession and sexual abuse.

    What captivated me reading this book was her brash honesty. Alexis pulls no punches. No topic is too raw for her to expose and in doing so she lays to rest many of the myths that force victims of such acts into silence. Too often victims in such cases are made to defend themselves and their actions and painted with a scarlet "S" for the mere fact that their case involves sex. She shows how a victim of a predator such as this can be forced into using sex as currency. The result of which is devastating for the victim. She shows that victims of online predators can be among the smartest and the most able of kids. She shows that despite how much attention a parent is paying that they need to be even more attentive.

    Parents everywhere should be forcced to read this story and recognize just how vulnerable their children are in this era of openness. Especially those children who are brightest and most seemingly capable.

    Teens should read it and understand that despite their parents' stodginess and inherent uncool that sometimes they can be right and that the internet can actually be a dangerous place.

    I hope that this book gets the attention it deserves and that it lets otehrs out there who have suffered similarly know that they are not alone and that they can, like Alexis, survive and thrive.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I started Alexis thinking it was the book I would connect to the

    I started Alexis thinking it was the book I would connect to the least, enjoy the least, and leave thinking that the girl who wrote it was a moron. Mentally, I had always had little tolerance for the girls who participated in cybersex. I mean, yes - most of the fault lay with those who seduced them. But they should have known to stop. Right?

    Then I read Alexis.

    The problem with Alexis is that she reminded me of me. A little too much, actually. We both participate in theater related online forums, we both love musical theater, we both like to write and read. And I think just learning those things connected me to her, and that was what made the story so real to me.

    So this book gave me the creeps. The good creeps, of course, but the creeps.

    This is, of course, ignoring Alexis' brilliant writing. With the exception of a few times, she doesn't give specific details of what her predator said. (Because that's what it was; a predator.) But you felt what she felt. The sensation that this was wrong, the gradual pull, the cracking of willpower.

    Honestly, I'd love to see Alexis write fiction, because I think it'd be brilliant.

    But I digress. It's hard to find words for this review, because it really struck a chord. It's also hard because I don't want to spoil anything for you, about how it ends, because you're going to be sucked in. It's one of those books where you sit there ranting with a friend about what happened and why and what could happen.

    So I'll leave you with this. A brilliant debut from a writer I hope we see more of, and a novel that will leave you with the chills.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Review from Blkosiner's Book Blog

    Alexis' story is very powerful and I think that more people should read and realize that it could be you!
    Her voice is very authentic, and I was able to relate with things she was saying and how she felt about herself. This is a road that I could have easily been down myself, and I felt for her and wished there was something I could do for her and other victims.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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