For the first time since the now-infamous Slender Man stabbing, the victim at the heart of it all is speaking out.
What began as a Wisconsin sleepover for three 12-year-old girls in 2014 ended in brutality: Payton Leutner was lured to the woods by her two friends Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier. Then, they stabbed her 19 times as a sacrifice to the fictitious character Slender Man.
Leutner survived the attack and has long stayed out of the spotlight, while the story itself went viral and even spawned a movie. But now, Leutner will share her story on ABC’s "20/20" on Friday.
"I've come to accept all of the scars that I have," Leutner said in a teaser for that interview. "It's just a part of me. I don't think much of them. They will probably go away and fade eventually."
Now 17 and a senior in high school, she said she has spent the last five years reclaiming her life.
"I feel like it's time for people to see my side rather than everyone else's," she said.
The survivor talks about the betrayal she felt from her two sixth grade pals, explaining she even considered Geyser her best friend.
"She was funny, I will give you that," Leutner said. "She had a lot of jokes to tell. … She was great at drawing and her imagination always kept things fun."
But the imagination ”went downhill” when Geyster became obsessed with Slender Man. Slender Man was originally a scary, fictitious character that originated as a creepypasta internet meme (horror-related images and stories that are passed around the internet). He was the basis of several online stories — and in some, he stalked and abducted children.
"I told [Geyser] that it scared me and that I didn't like it," Leutner said. "But she really liked it and thought it was real."
Meanwhile, Leuter said she didn’t like Weier, but tolerated her.
"I just hung out with her because I knew that Morgan really loved her as a friend," she said during the new interview. "But she was always cruel to me. I feel like she was jealous that Morgan was friends with me and her."
She also felt like Weier convinced her best friend that Slender Man was actually real.
Leuter said she never wants to see either of the girls again. In fact, some of the effects of the stabbing still resonate. She said she still sleeps with a pair of broken scissors under a pillow next to her "just in case."
However, she did say if she had to speak to Geyser again she would thank her.
"I would say, 'Just because of what she did, I have the life I have now. I really, really like it and I have a plan. I didn't have a plan when I was 12, and now I do because of everything that I went through,” she said. "I wouldn't think that someone who went through what I did would ever say that. But that's truly how I feel. Without the whole situation, I wouldn't be who I am."
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