Whether you live in a large city or a small town, sexual assault is a lot more common than you might think.
A few weeks ago, Kristen and I watched “Audrie and Daisy” on Netflix. The documentary is about two separate, but parallel cases of teenage girls who got drunk and were subsequently sexually assaulted by classmates and friends.
In 2012, 15 year old Audrie Potts got drunk at a back to school party and passed out in an upstairs bedroom. Some of the football players stripped her, drew obscenities with permanent markers on her body, molested her, and took pictures which were then shared around the school. Her reputation destroyed, 8 days later she committed suicide.
Within the same year, but many miles away in a small Missouri town, 14 year old Daisy Coleman and a friend were invited over to a small party of some of her brother’s teammates. Both her and her friend drank large amounts of alcohol and were separately molested. Daisy was left in her front yard on that cold winter night wearing only a t-shirt and sweatpants. Her mom found her the next morning in the snow, her head frozen to the ground.
In both cases, the perpetrators received little penalty. While the sexual assaults were terrible enough, the social rejection and shaming that occurred afterwards by peers and the community were most shocking. Social media became toxic grounds for online harassment.
Daisy and her brother Charlie were rejected and harassed at their Maryville, MO school. Their family had already endured loss and heartache when their father was killed in a car accident years earlier. The intimidation and home vandalism became too much. Their Maryville home was burned down and they moved back to their original hometown.
The documentary is shot over a several year time frame. The beautiful blue-eyed, blonde hair Daisy dyes her hair black with facial piercings. She falls into depression and attempts suicide multiple times. Eventually she finds common ground with other sexual assault survivors and becomes a role model for these girls.
After we finished watching the documentary, Kristen and I were speechless. I couldn’t believe this happened so close to my hometown in MO.
I was inspired by Daisy’s brother, Charlie, who became a source of strength for Daisy and the family. He began coaching a baseball team and teaches young men how to treat and talk about women respectfully.
I got into contact with Charlie and met up with him while I was visiting family in Kansas City, KS. Kristen and I were immediately impressed with this young man.
Charlie discussed the difficulties he and his family felt by being ostracized by the community after they came forward with the sexual assault. But, he pursued his life’s calling and became a Little League baseball coach for three years. When locker room talk came up, he’d address it and give the young men “a good teaching point in life.” He continues to stay in touch with these young men today.
Teenage sexual assault statistics are alarming. According to RAINN, “every 8 minutes child protective services substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sexual abuse.” Sadly, only 12% of these cases are reported. 93% of perpetrators are known by the victim.
You can make a difference. Learn more, get involved, and do something.
If I can get one person to speak out, if I can get one person to intervene, or if I can save one life, every bit of pain and struggle will be worth it.”