Terri says she trusted and thought she knew her 15-year-old daughter, Sierra — who she believed was a popular teen, earning good grades — until Sierra disappeared and was discovered by police, days later, after witnessing a murder. Terri says she then learned that Sierra had been living a very different life — experimenting with drugs, meeting men online and having sexual relationships with them — many of whom were twice her age. Can Dr. Phil get to the root of Sierra’s behavior? And, what warning signs did Terri miss? If you’re a parent, you can’t afford to miss this show! This program contains strong sexual content. Viewer discretion advised.
“I Feel like I Failed Her as Mother”
Sierra opens up about her traumatic experience and how she found herself at the center of news-making headlines.
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“I have been addicted to meeting men on the Internet since I was 12.”
Terri says that even after escaping death, Sierra continued reaching out to older men online. “After Sierra came home from the police station, the thing she worried about most was the Internet,” she says. “I went digging in her phone for the first time, and I was shocked. I found emails. I found pictures of private parts all over her phone. I saw multiple men between the ages of 25 and 35, who were clearly having sex with Sierra.”
Sierra reveals to Dr. Phil that she is now a sex addict. And, why didn’t Terri see the warning signs?
A Dark Journey
“Between the ages of 12 and 15, Sierra never got in trouble, never hung out with boys, never did any drugs. She was just a good, good kid,” says Terri. “My relationship with Sierra was wonderful. We were always open with each other. I always felt like she knew that I loved her, she could always come to me.”
Sierra tells a different story. “I was about 11 when I first started getting bullied. I felt lonely and afraid when I was being attacked, like I was never accepted,” she reveals, adding that she also felt like the black sheep of her family. She says she turned to the Internet to find friends and get attention from guys. “I needed love because I felt like a reject. I just felt hopeless,” she shares. “When I was having sex with a stranger, it made me feel wanted, like I was accepted for everything.”
Sierra says her life changed when she was 12 and met a 28-year-old stranger at the park. “He told me to walk into the creek with him. He took off my pants, and then he started to rape me,” she reveals. “I didn’t tell my parents because I was scared I would get in trouble, and he would hurt me.” She says this continued for a few months. “I was about 14 when I started getting money for sex and drugs for sex.”
“I thought, as her mother, I knew everything that was going on, and I knew nothing,” Terri realizes.
Dr. Phil reviews Terri and her husband, David’s, version of events and how they differ greatly from Sierra’s reality. “How does your 12-year-old daughter have the unmonitored freedom to have a sexual relationship with a 28-year-old man and a married man?”
“You were victimized. You were molested. But in a sense, it was a degree of acceptance?”
“I’m being very critical of your naiveté here, because I’m trying to wake you up,” Dr. Phil tells Terri.
Making Changes for a Brighter Future
Sierra says that when she’s on the Internet, she feels like a different person.
“Do you get that these men are sick, perverted criminals?”
Is Terri enabling her daughter? “Are you telling me she still has access to the Internet?”
Dr. Phil tells Terri and David that they’re loving parents, but they are in over the head with Sierra. “Sometimes, children’s behavior progresses beyond your parenting skill set,” he says. “You two need some serious parenting skills before you’re able to manage her. She needs to be in an inpatient, therapeutic environment, working on herself and working on her education. She needs to find out that she has some real value, beyond offering herself up as a sex toy to a bunch of predator perverts.”
Dr. Phil arranges for Sierra to attend Island View Residential Treatment Center. “I don’t want to do this to you. I want to do this with you and for you,” he tells the teen. “It’s not that we’re sending you away because you’re bad; it’s that I’m offering this to you because you’re worth it.”
Sierra thanks Dr. Phil and accepts his offer.