Jerry Finn, a social work professor at the University of Washington–Tacoma, has researched information technology and human services for more than 20 years. He told ABCNEWS.com that online therapy has shown to be more effective than its critics may suggest.
"Research is starting to come back saying that e-therapy is just as good as face to face and better than doing nothing for certain issues," said Finn, who added that individuals battling suicide and those with chronic mental illness are best treated in person.
"You don't want kids talking about rape with just anyone online on some weird Web site where you don't know who you're talking to," said Finn, who said he expects this kind of online counseling to expand into other fields.
For 23-year-old Kaley, finding an online outlet meant the difference between life and death after she was drugged and raped nine months ago.
"It's easier for me to go online because I was very emotional and whenever I talk about it, I just start balling, so it's easier to just type it," said Kaley, who said that the last thing she remembered about the night she was raped by a police officer was sitting down at a table at a bar to have a drink. The next thing she knew she was waking up in a pool of her own blood.
Kaley, in a telephone interview with ABCNEWS.com, said her doctor later told her she had extensive vaginal tearing and lesions that were still bleeding even days after the rape occurred.
"It's less judgmental online, and since we're such a technology driven world right now, it's easier in that way," said Kaley, who used RAINN's online hot line and hopes to start a similar system that uses victims as counselors. "And you don't have to hide wherever you are, you can just close the [site] if someone comes up behind you. On the phone you have to find a place where nobody can hear what you're saying."
Like so many rape cases, lack of evidence defeated Kaley's attempt to press charges against her rapist.
"[The online hot line] pretty much saved my life. I wouldn't be where I am today without it," said Kaley, who has yet to finish school -– she dropped out in the aftermath of her rape -– and said she has plans to move to Arizona with friends she met through RAINN. "There were times that were so dark, and I didn't want to talk to anyone so I just went straight online. Afterwards, I felt 10 times better."