The Netflix documentary Audrie and Daisy tells about the vicious sexual assaults and rapes of teenage girls and the devastating consequences of the social media aftermath. The focus of the documentary is two girls, Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman, from different parts of the United States. Boys, the girls thought were friends, assault them when they pass out from drinking. For Audrie, Daisy and their families the physical assaults are just the beginning of their suffering.
In January 2012, 14-year- old, Daisy Coleman and her 13-year-old friend Paige snuck out of Daisy’s house to hang out with boys they knew from school. While there, the girls became very drunk and were raped. A friend of the perpetrator videotaped Daisy’s attack. Hours later, Daisy’s mother found her passed out, partially dressed and lying on the frozen lawn of their house in Maryville, Missouri.
After the attack, Daisy is bullied and harassed at school and on social media. She attempts suicide on several occasions. Daisy and her family are ostracised by their community.
Months later in Saratoga, California, 15-year-old Audrie Pott attends a party with classmates. She drinks too much and passes out. While passed out, male friends of Audrie sexually assault her, use marker to write crude messages all over her body, and take photos and video of Audrie.
Audrie does not remember what happened that night, but finds out pictures of her are on social media. She asks classmates to tell her what happened to no avail. Audrie is distraught and thinks her reputation is ruined forever. Classmates bully her on social media. Eight days after the assault Audrie commits suicide.
Audrie & Daisy’s struggles for justice
Following the assaults, Audrie, Daisy and their families face harassment on social media and from people in their communities. Some people blame the girls because they drank too much. Others seem to accept the boys’ behaviour because boys will be boys.
The documentary shows the obstacles the families face as they look for justice through the legal system. In response to the lenient sentences given to three juvenile boys involved in the attack, Audrie’s parents file a civil, wrongful death suit. The suit is settled and the Potts’ get some justice for Audrie including a public apology.
Daisy’s search for justice highlights the questionable attitudes of law enforcement. Although her attack was videotaped, police claim it was deleted and they could not retrieve it. Local police charge Matthew Burnett, the host of the party, with sexual assault but those charges are dropped.
After exposure in the national media and public protests, a prosecutor from outside the local area is appointed. Barnett is prosecuted and pleads guilty to endangering the welfare of a child. His sentence is two years’ probation.
Teenage Sexual Assaults in Ireland
Although the documentary concentrates on sexual assaults in the United States, sexual assault on teens by other teens is a rising problem in Ireland. In its 2014 Annual Report, Children at Risk Ireland (CARI) states sexual assaults and rapes of teenagers by teenagers increased 43 percent since 2012.
CARI CEO Mary Flaherty comments, “What is particularly disturbing is that the teenagers report being further traumatised by the fact that these assaults were viewed and discussed by their peers on social media sites, which often led to the isolation and bullying of the victims.”
What parents can do to protect their teens from sexual assault
Audrie & Daisy is compelling viewing. Parents and teenagers should watch the documentary and discuss the important issues it raises including consent, abuse of alcohol and social media use. The website for Audrie & Daisy includes a discussion guide to help parents with these topics.
For more help and ideas for talking with your teen about sexuality, social media, alcohol use and related topics check out the information in the links below:
Talking to Your Child About Sexual Abuse
Audrie & Daisy is streaming on Netflix.
I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and have received a free Netflix subscription and streaming device as part of my membership. All opinions expressed within this post are my own.