By Abbie Boudreau
Correspondent, CNN Special Investigations Unit
It was toward the end of the day, and my producer, Scott Zamost and I were scrolling through story tips from CNN viewers.
There was one that jumped out at us. It read, “Please, help me,” and the subject line said, “YouTube Video of Crying 16-year-old Rape Victim Pleas for Help.” There was a link to a video posted on YouTube by a Florida girl.
Right away, we watched the video, and the first thing we thought was, "Can this be real?"
Within minutes, we contacted the young girl, Crystal. We talked at length with both Crystal and her father, Dennis. Quickly, we learned this girl was real, and she had a real story she wanted to share.
Two days later, we flew to Florida to meet Crystal and to learn more about why she posted a video about her most private moments, for the world to see and judge.
She told us she felt she had nothing to lose, and she was desperate to find someone who would listen to her story.
Crystal may be one of the first to post a video like this on YouTube, but she is also among a growing number of young girls who talk about their most private experiences online to perfect strangers.
Experts say the reason more girls are detailing their lives on the Internet is because they are desperate, and in many cases, they feel it’s the only way to seek justice and make people listen - when most people in their lives don’t seem to care.
The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, or RAINN, says this new trend can be very dangerous, considering potential online predators that could be trolling the Web, looking to re-victimize these young girls.
I wonder how big of a deal it is for people to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets to strangers online.
I mean, in Crystal's case, her plea for help seemed to work.
She got our attention, and as a result, she is now seeking professional help for her depression and anxiety.
But do these cases always have happy endings? And also, maybe we should ask ourselves what the world is coming to when teenagers resort to posting videos on YouTube to find the help they need.
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