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Updated: Mon, 28 Apr 2014 08:56:38 GMT | By For CBC News, cbc.ca

Arrest of Dutch man in Amanda Todd cyberbullying rekindles family anguish



In a YouTube video shortly before she took her own life in 2012, 15-year-old Amanda Todd told the story about how she was lured and sexually exploited over the internet, and the deep embarrassment and depression that provoked. Amanda Todd Legacy Society / CBC

In a YouTube video shortly before she took her own life in 2012, 15-year-old Amanda Todd told the story about how she was lured and sexually exploited over the internet, and the deep embarrassment and depression that provoked. Amanda Todd Legacy Society / CBC

It's been a week since the news that there was someone sitting in a jail in the Netherlands who had a connection to the death of my daughter, Amanda Todd.

Has anything changed for us yet? No. The investigation is of course ongoing and we continue to hear different things from the media with respect to charges, extradition, the proposed cyberbullying law, bill C-13, etc.

The connection that this man allegedly had — and now has — with Amanda is now in the form of five charges laid against him by British Columbia's Crown counsel.

These charges include one count each of extortion, internet luring, criminal harassment, possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution and possession of child pornography.

All this can be found in detailed media release put out by Coquitlam RCMP.

- Will accused Dutch man stand trial in Canada? 

As one of Amanda's parents, the question everyone seems to want to know is, how does this arrest make me feel.

This is something that I have been thinking about over and over again since my phone started buzzing last Friday morning.

The Canadian media has quieted down, but now it is international media that is trying to make contact, and the gamut of emotions has been vast.

Initially, when I first read the news on the internet I think it was shock that I first felt. I had to reread the headlines and even look at the date to see if it was real.

Then there was surprise, and then elation. And then came the questions.

I managed to find someone to translate the initial news stories for me from Dutch so that the words were understandable. It was only then that what I was reading sunk in.

That someone had been caught in connection with Amanda's death: Hers was the only name mentioned in the initial news stories.

Was this man her online predator? Was he the one extorting her? And all the way from the Netherlands? Was that even possible?

Another chapter

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined an act like this happening so far away from home.

How far exactly is the Netherlands from Port Coquitlam, B.C.? Over 7,700 kilometres it turns out.

It only shows us how far away people can be physically from the harm they can do, yet how close they can be with the advent of the internet, smartphones and social media. Literally in each other's living space.

In our case, there were many who disbelieved that Amanda had been exploited and extorted.

Some people wrote on social media that she might have made up her story for attention.

Knowing my daughter and her emotional background, it was hard for me to believe that Amanda would ever make up a story like the one we have all come to know through her You Tube video, which has now been viewed almost 30 million times across the world.

In any event, the arrest in the Netherlands, a case that has taken over three years of investigative time, according to police, should resolve that claim once and for all.

And now, another chapter has been started. The first chapter started in December 2010, when the exploitation started with the first image being sent out. The second chapter was from Oct. 10, 2012 onwards, when the world first heard of Amanda Todd and her death.

Now with the announcement of the Dutch arrest, this third chapter will go on to whenever. We don't know what will happen next. We don't know when anything will happen.

Songs, smells, favourite places

Media articles are talking about extraditions and court trials. There is certainly more investigative work that is being done.

People ask what I would like to see happen? If I would consider going to the trial when and if it ever happens?

I have to answer truthfully — I don't know. It is hard to answer a question that isn't out there in real time.

All I know is that the emotional rollercoaster has started again. It had been slowing down before last week with only a few dips and turns.

Now it feels like it has been oiled and lubed, and is aiming for the bigger hills and tighter turns.

No one can even imagine the inner turmoil that I often feel. Not being a person that shares a lot of my words out loud, I hold it in — most of the time.

I am able to speak to groups about Amanda's legacy because I know it can help others. But deep inside, all this continues to hurt, and it is a pain that is so hard to describe unless you have experienced the same life changing events.

In my private moments, that is when the box opens and that is when it is important to have three things available — a shoulder to lean on, soft Kleenex and chocolate (preferably dark).

Still, there are triggers. Songs. Smells. Favourite places. These may appear out of nowhere, there are no warnings when, and then everything falls apart.

No one can judge how it feels to lose a loved one, especially your own child. And as I have written before, the only people that I have found who can relate to this loss are other parents who have had the same experience.

We might look strong one day, but the hollowness of loss is ever present. All we want is our child back and we know that it will never happen.

In our case now we know there is a man in jail in the Netherlands who allegedly might have been the one responsible for the start of the vicious cycle of online and offline harassment that Amanda had to endure.

I will be waiting anxiously to hear more about the investigation and what further information arises.

Different countries have different laws and penalties. It is my hope that whatever country this man goes on trial in that the punishment fits the crime.

It is also my hope that we learn the lessons of safe practices for using the internet and share them with family members young and old.

Our family has learned through tragedy that it is so easy to make the kinds of digital mistakes that can never be erased.

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