Author - LiveMy name is Katie Beers and I am a survivor. I made national headlines 25 years ago today on December 28th, 1992 after I was kidnapped by a family friend and then held in a underground bunker for 17 horrendous days. Ask Me Anything.
Dec 29th 2017 by KatieBeersTalks • 37 Questions • 6272 Points
My name is Katie Beers, a New York Times best-selling author and survivor. I am a survivor of physical, emotional, verbal, mental and sexual abuse. 25 years ago today, I made national headlines on December 28th, 1992 when a close family friend abducted me when I was 9 years old. He then held me captive for 17 horrendous days in an underground bunker built specifically for me. On January 13, 1993, John Esposito, my abductor, finally broke down and told his lawyers that he had abducted me. The abduction changed my life forever in many ways, including creating an opportunity for a better life. After my abduction, I was placed in a foster home, where I should have been for years, receiving love, support, stability, structure and psychological care.
I authored Buried Memories to share my never-before-told true story of survival and recovery which quickly became a New York Times best-seller. I, at the center of a national media storm, dropped out of sight 25 years ago and until 5 years ago when my book Buried Memories was released, had never spoken publicly about my story. I released my book Buried Memories in January 2013 and have had subsequent media appearances in People, Newsday, Dr. Phil, Jeff Probst Show, Anderson Cooper, Nancy Grace, The View, Crime Watch Daily, and others over the years, speaking about my story of survival and recovery.
I grew up in a world where abuse was swept under the rug, and not reported. Abuse wasn’t reported because the community didn’t know it was happening, abuse wasn’t reported because the community turned a blind eye, ignored it, didn’t report it, or didn’t know WHERE to report it.
Now an inspirational speaker, I feel blessed to share my story of recovery to the world. I’ve spoken at numerous conferences, summits, and workshops around the country in hope that other children can grow up in a world where people are aware of abuse and neglect warning signs and to help others with their own recovery.
You can buy my book at www.buriedmemories.com.
Ask Me Anything.
Also, my husband /u/KBHusband is here with me to help out. Thanks everyone!
EDIT: Hey everyone. It's been a fun two hours and an interesting first time on Reddit (you can thank Derek for that). I have a cold and I'm sick. I'm going to call it quits for tonight. Derek is going to stay around and answer some questions for a bit longer. I'll check in tomorrow and answer more of your questions when I have time. Feel free to follow or like my profiles as mentioned and let me know if you'd like any specific questions answered there too. Thanks again!)
EDIT2: Wow this is picking up. Okay I'll answer some more from the comfort of my couch :)
EDIT3: Reddit your support was amazing. We're headed to bed. I'll try to answer some more questions tomorrow. Goodnight.
What was your experience on the Dr. Phil show like? Was his demeanor that of a TV host or an actual doctor?
He wanted to promote his book more than anything to do with me or my book (the whole reason I was appearing on the show). We also felt that he had no idea what my story was about - he didn't seem educated on who he was interviewing - it was kinda sad, really!
I should have been in foster care from the time that I was 2 or even younger. I was sexually abused by my 'aunt's' husband from the time that I was 2 until I was abducted by a 'family friend' when i was almost 10. I was also physically, emotionally and verbally abused by all of the adults who were supposed to take care of me as well as neglected. CPS did come to the house to do interviews with me, but it's difficult to be truthful with CPS workers when they're interviewing you in the house where the abuse is occurring in the exact room where it was occurring
From 2 years old? I literally just dry heaved. I just want to say that it’s amazing that you’ve turned such a horrible, long situation into a really helpful and amazing organization.
Thank you! My support system is what helped me recover!
I imagine going through that at 9yrs old was indescribable, if you could say something to another survivor (that helped you cope/deal and grow)... what would you say?
I've always believed that everything happens for a reason - good and bad. I've taken my experiences and am working to educate people about the horrors that I've endured. I view my experience as a learning experience & am working as hard as I can to use my experiences for 'good'
Hi Katie. Aside from being an insurance saleswoman, what would be your dream career?
I would love to break more into motivational speaking. I've enjoyed the speeches that I've given over the past almost 5 years. I'm enjoying my time with my children and taking the speaking as it comes!
Sorry if these questions seen insensitive, but has he ever reached out to you, and what would your response be if he did? Has he come up for parole and does his getting out frighten you?
When I was younger, my (foster) parents monitored all of my mail - if anyone from my childhood did reach out to me, it was not brought to my attention (for my well-being). My 'aunt's' husband died in jail in either 2009 or 2010 - he was paroled a few years prior, but was back in prison for violating Megan's Law. The one who kidnapped me also died in prison in 2013, after he met with the parole board, and finally admitting to sexually abusing and raping me, he died hours later in his cell.
As far as I know, my abductor attempted to kidnap a little boy in the late 70's - the police were involved & he lied to the police and said that he thought that little boy was alone because he didn't see his parents near by & was going to take him home (they apparently lived near each other). He also sexually abused my biological brother - I don't know the severity of this though.
For anyone who is working with children who've gone through traumatic experiences, what do you think was the most valuable thing that your therapist and foster family did to help you overcome your early challenges?
They didn't 'push me.' When I first entered therapy, I was preparing for a trial against the monster who sexually abused & raped me as a child (my 'aunt's' husband) - but after the trial was over, therapy moved at a slower pace. My (foster) parent's also didn't push me and loved me unconditionally - no matter how broken i was or how unbearable I may have been. In my opinion, a support system is the biggest key to helping an abuse survivor to 'recover'
I don't drink beer! I like ciders, or 'fruity' drinks. I've also been known to drink a glass of wine or 2 :)
I was also sexually abused as a child starting at age 4 or 5 and have fought my whole life to come to terms with it. When people say, "but you survived!" I fight to keep from beating them within an inch of their life so i can stand back and say, "see you survived too! Sometimes just surviving isn't enough." It still hurts that many members of my family refuse to accept what happened to me even though some of my abusers admitted what they did.
Do you think the public will ever understand the long term damage their choosing to ignore or turn a blind eye to childhood sexual abuse (ANY sexual abuse actually) causes?
I hope that one day, after enough survivors have the courage to speak about their abuse, that there will no longer be a 'stigma' associated with surviving. I HATE that there is a still a stigma associated with child abuse (or abuse) survivors - we shouldn't be the ones that have to worry about being believed or worry about what others will think
So (and Full Disclosure - I am not even remotely equating this to what you went through) when I was a kid, this bigger kid would bully me for about 8 months until he moved. Well, even today, it doesn't happen often, but once in a while I will hear a song, talk to a stranger, hear two people have a conversation and it will take me back to that immediately.
Do you ever meet people or have an interaction where it reminds you of this awful event, even if you cannot identify what it was that reminded you?
Over the years, I've tried to identify my "triggers" so that I'm not caught so off guard if I experience one of them!
And, I am a firm believer that regardless of how "great or small" the trauma that someone experiences, it can impact your life in positive or negative ways - there is no "small" trauma!!!
very well. Enjoying the holiday with my family! How are you?!
How did you and your husband meet and did he know about the abduction before you had said something to him about it?
Well, I actually didn't like Derek when we first met (he likes to tell himself that I had a crush on him) - I thought he was cocky & arrogant - I wasn't wrong. But we met a bar, playing pool. I was in my junior year of college. I thought his cousin was interested in my roommate, so I didn't pay too much attention to Derek. Lol. He didn't know about my childhood before, but as soon as he learned my last name, he did a google search & didn't bail on our first date :) the rest is a happy, loving history.
Hi katie would you rather fight 1 family friend sized duck or 100 duck sized family friends?
LOL! My husband told me about 'these questions'!
Def 1 family friend sized duck.
How bad was the emotional pain afterwards? How did you deal with it? What is something that you can suggest people in similar situations do?
After being put into foster care, I was immediately put into therapy. I completely credit my therapist and my foster parents for my recovery. Everyone says that I was a strong kid to have gone through what I went through, and was able to come out 'normal' - but therapy and the love of my (foster) parents is how I survived and turned out 'normal' My suggestion to anyone who has has a similar experience (God forbid) is to find solace in your family/loved ones.
Thank you for sharing your story! You're an amazing woman and you inspire courage in myself and so many others. I hate to do this, but seeing as how the "dumb question" barrier has already been broken...
If you were a shape, what shape would you be?
On a more serious note, what would you say is one thing that a survivor of childhood sexual abuse needs to hear more than anything else?
Well, my new obsession is the infinity sign.... Is that a "shape?!?"
As for what an abuse survivor needs to hear... They don't need to "hear" anything, but they do need to be heard - on their own terms! More than anything, it doesn't help to tell someone "I know what you're going through" - I've had people say this to me, and I've responded with "oh, you've been kidnapped by a family friend, raped by 2 men and held in an underground bunker?" - now, that was the smartass thing to say... But no... You don't know what I'm going through... Nor do I want you to know that I went through. Survivers need to be listened to, when they want to talk & loved. That's it!
The killer in the novel/movie The Lovely Bones does something similar. Do you believe your life inspired that aspect of the story?
I haven't seen that movie, or read the book. I've been told that my story has impacted several books/movies/TV shows though
I happy to see you and family doing great.
How did this Tragic event effect your relationship with men? And do you still have trust issues with men because of this.
People think that because of what I experienced that I'd have trust issues, especially with men. I don't! Even though 2 men who were supposed to protect me, abused me, I still was able to see the good in others. It took me a little while to be able to feel comfortable around older men (my foster father, detectives, the DA, etc), and I might have my guard up, but it's temporary & short lived
If everything you ate from now on for the rest of your life was tossed in either hot sauce, buffalo sauce, or barbecue sauce, which would you want it to be? You can combine with others but not switch between them.
I think I'd starve to death, I don't much care for any of those :/
I attempted to play volleyball, I played tennis and I was a cheerleader. I was very involved with my high school tech crew.
Do you think your experience was more commonplace in 1992 or today?
I think that with social media and nationwide news stations that we're hearing more about these things. I would hope that they're not as common now as they were back in '92, but I think that that is naive. Social Media get's news out quicker than we had in '92 - so we hear about instances more readily
I was a kid on LI when this happened. I used to go to Space Plex every once in a while, I can still remember the glowing entrance hallway. I wasn't allowed in there alone after your ordeal, even after we all found out it was someone close to the family. Glad you are ok now! Do you have trouble going to amusement parks or similar?
The trouble that I have is that there aren't as many safe guards in place as there should be
Hi Katie. Compared to most your early childhood was truly awful and I'm so impressed that you've been able to recover and do well with what you've been given.
My own less traumatic issues involved insecure attachment and emotional neglect.
I'm wondering if in the course of your recovery the discussion in therapy included attachment theory or emotional neglect (specifically the work to Jonice Webb)?
And, if so, what have you learned that helps to compensate for that damage?
I have not been specifically told of those 2 methods.
There is no compensating for the damage - only being able to process it & come to terms with it.