Raising awareness: Kidnapped teen shares story 20 years later

Published: Apr. 25, 2017 at 5:54 PM CDT
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An area sexual assault survivor is sharing the details of her kidnapping 20 years ago in the hopes of saving others.

Many people may remember the story of 13-year-old Jessyca Mullenberg who was kidnapped near Eau Claire in 1995 after facing years of sexual abuse from several men.

Mullenberg, now known as Christianson, is sharing her story with parents and their children to give them the tools to recognize when abuse may be occurring.

“It’s the reality. People need to know about this because if they don't know about it we can't stop it and can't put these bad people behind bars,” said Christianson.

Tuesday, Black River Falls Middle School students heard Christianson’s difficult story about how she survived kidnapping, sexual assault, and abuse that all started when she was only 5-years-old.

Christianson explained, “I was kidnapped by Steven Oliver on September 16, 1995 but I was abused by Oliver from the third grade to the seventh grade and I was abused by two other men before that when I was younger.”

The topic may be a little frightening and intense for 11-14 year olds but Christianson says if she'd known more about sexual assault earlier her story may have played out differently.

“I wish I would have known what child abuse was, what grooming was, what is appropriate for an adult to touch and not to touch,” added Christianson. “If I would have known that I think I would have been in a different place right now.”

Eighth grader Asia Rave says she's already been a witness to abuse and is grateful Christianson is speaking out.

“I have a lot of family members that went through it,” said Rave. “I think it's a really good thing so people know how to cope with it and what's going on and how they should come out about it and tell someone.”

Principal Dave Roou says he hopes students at least take away the reminder to be kind to other students because you never know what they're going through.

“It is true in our school, and schools across the county, that kids are mean to one another and it can rise to bullying and are you going to be the one who takes part in that, or are a bystander that does nothing, or step in like we teach kids to do,” said Roou.

Christianson encourages parents to speak with their children especially as April is Child Abuse Awareness month.

She says parents can also look out for warning signs such as a drop in grades, withdrawal from activities, and unusual bruising.