Daisy Coleman, 23, was 14 when she was raped at a party in 2012 in Maryville, Missouri. She was found dead yesterday after her mother called police to check on her. It’s believed she ended her own life.
Her case drew national attention as she spoke of being bullied after the incident, but the charge against the teenage boy she accused was ultimately dropped.
Her mother said she found her daughter the next morning, left outside on the porch, with wet hair and wearing just a T-shirt and sweatpants in sub-zero temperatures.
Barnett was charged with sexual assault, but the case was eventually dropped. Ms Coleman’s family argued this was due to the local political connections of the boy’s family.
Barnett pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of child endangerment, arguing his sexual intercourse with Daisy had been consensual.
She was featured in the Netflix documentary Audrie & Daisy, which highlighted the bullying faced by teenage assault victims. The other girl in the film, Audrie Pott, took her own life in September 2012, days after she was sexually assaulted. You have to watch it.
Ms Coleman helped co-found the SafeBAE (Before Anyone Else) non-profit organisation to help prevent sexual assault in schools in the U.S.
They stated “She had many coping demons and had been facing and overcoming them all, but as many of you know, healing is not a straight path or any easy one. She fought longer and harder than we will ever know.”
The statement added that Ms Coleman had worked to help young survivors, and would want them “to know they are heard, they matter, they are loved, and there are places for them to get the help they need”.
More info on the article here: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53673192
I am personally aware of many cases where this has happened in Australia. This is an issue for a LOT of people.
We intervened in one case in Aspley where a young couple had moved into a local caravan park with their newborn. A violent criminal, known to our organisation, who lived in the same caravan park, grabbed the woman and dragged her behind a caravan to rape her. She fought him off. She went to the police and pressed charges. The next day he tried again! She fought him off a second time. She went to the police again and pressed charges again. The police went and charged him. He immediately went straight over to her caravan and told her he’d kill her if she continued with the charges. Someone tipped us off.
We dropped off a hamper to the young family and asked if the rumours were true. The poor thing broke down. Her husband was not an inspiring young man and didn’t seem overly concerned. Which was concerning. Myself, and a colleague much stronger than me, went and had a conversation with him. It wasn’t a vigilante act. We didn’t hit him or threaten him with violence. We said we know what he’s been doing, we asked him to stop doing it and if we hear that he’s done anything again whatsoever we would back there immediately to discuss it. He very very politely agreed. The young family got in the car a few days later and fled to another city. The perpetrator faced no consequence for his actions.
I know of soooo many cases where the victim has been threatened by the perpetrator and successfully has coerced the perpetrator to drop the charges.
If we know someone is really a victim we need to consider their safety so that they can effectively stand up against their perpetrator and prosecute them in a fair trial. This is not just a police issue. This is a whole community issue. We need to hold people accountable and do that in a safe and fair way.
Watching the Netflix documentary it concerned me the binary nature. People want to reduce it to teams. I’m on his side or I’m on her side. I’m with the Barnetts or I’m with Daisy. It is possible that he may not have technically raped her according to the law in Missouri. But that in no way means that what those boys did was okay. They left her to die in the snow and she was 14yo and they were 17yo. Howabout, leave the law out of it for a second. Why didn’t the boy’s father have a word with him, tell him what he did was appalling behaviour and demand that he apologise and make amends somehow.
I think the answer to that is they were scared of going to prison and the harsh consequences of the law. But then that’s just cowardice. Take gender and the sexual side of it out. If a group of 17 year olds beat up a 14 year old and dumped him on the front lawn it’s just not okay. But, I don’t think that’s the bit that messed up Daisy and led to her suicide. It was the response to that behaviour. That was she treated like rubbish and noone called it out. Instead it was all about well technically according to the law it’s not, so he’s innocent and she’s lying. But then they didn’t stop there. They trashed their home and destroyed her entire family’s life.
Here’s my take on this. I get mixed emotions with this stuff because I’ve endured the trauma of false accusations.
1. Men. Don’t be a coward. We all do stupid things. Boys will be boys. But men know where the line is. Men know when they’ve crossed it. Men know when other men have crossed it. Call it out. If you’ve done the wrong thing go and say sorry. Admit it. Apologise and don’t do it again. If you know a man who’s done the wrong thing, call him on it and encourage him to face it, apologise and move on.
I’ve taken men down to the police station to confess crimes. I’ve told them I’m not proud of what you did but I’m proud of you for facing the consequences of your choices like a man. Teach younger men to own your choices and your behaviour. Teach younger men to respect women, to respect boundaries, to respect themselves and their values so they don’t commit these acts and they will have the courage to stop other men to ever commit these sort of horrific acts.
2. Women. Stop making false accusations. This story is a case of the “girls who cried wolf”. So many women make up false accusations to meet some twisted dark selfish need. If there were less fake claims then it’d be much easier to support real victims. Police are instructed not to talk about the vast amount of false accusations of rape that are admitted to be falsified and retracted. It’s probably because it would deter those who are real victims. Stop doing it.
We need to start prosecuting women, and men, who make false accusations and waste valuable resources to meet their dark twisted need for attention. Out of respect for real victims like Daisy: don’t do it. Find a way to meet that need for attention in a healthy way. Older wiser women need to call out younger women out who bullshit, exaggerate or falsify accusations. It unnecessarily destroys the lives of men but it also makes it so much harder for women.
3. Stop punishing people when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Whether Daisy was legally raped or not she was certainly abused at the admission of the boys who committed the acts. But then she was terrorised afterward to intimidate her into not calling the poor behaviour out. She was right to do that, even though it turned out to be technically not rape, probably, even though it didn’t go to trial, at least it’s called out. It tests laws and provides more information for laws to be fine tuned. But it also communicates if you do nasty hurtful acts you will be challenged on it. But we also don’t need to “go and cut off their testicles”.
They need to have a consequence for their horrific choice. In my opinion it was grossly insufficient. Daisy effectively lost her life because of their sexually charged abuse and complete disregard for her well being as a human. They’ve been called on it now and they have to live with knowing they killed her. Not right away but they killed her. Revenge, punishment, harsher laws is not gonna fix this problem. Fathers, uncles, older brothers, mentors, teachers need to teach young men to respect women and hold them accountable when they don’t. That’s the only way to really fix this.
4. It isn’t just young women. On this issue it is statistically significantly more men that commit rape. However, men and boys are taught by society to keep your mouth shut. If you think it’s unfair being a woman in the justice system try being a male victim of rape and see how far you get with the police and the justice system. Men are taught in our culture that any sexual encounter should be appreciated, so therefore, any sexual advance from a woman could never be rape.
So many men I know have been raped by a woman. In that, if the same actions had occurred with the genders reversed, it would be indisputably be called rape. But men could just fight her off. Well, can men actually do that? Physically, men have the strength, but men are not allowed to use any physically power against a woman. Even defensively. That’s called Domestic Violence. So it’s not that easy. There is a new power imbalance here that is not so obvious.
Talking to men about this there are many “false negatives” regarding sexual abuse. By that I mean that if you were to ask a man if he had ever been raped he would scoff it off as an absolutely no. However, if you asked very specifically details then the accounts change. We’re seeing a window into this issue with the rise of successful prosecutions of teachers who have sex with their students. https://www.news.com.au/…/…/7d9a63c0aa8ff80b0422cc47821e2395
5. This is fundamentally a human issue. We need to protect the vulnerable members of our communities. Whoever they are and however we can. We can overcome these issues. As a society and as individuals we can do more to support survivors and reform perpetrators. We can make better laws and procedures to manage these horrific cases. We can build a safer world for everyone.
Thanks for teaching us how important this issues is Daisy. I for one am so sorry you had to go through this. I hope we can all do better.