“The words of our enemy aren’t as awful as the silence of our friends.”
Audrie & Daisy is a documentary that challenges America to talk about teen sexual assault and the escalating assault that social media inflicts after the initial crime. For most of the movie, the bottom of my stomach and the top of my throat were doing figure 8s. It’s a harrowing subject and filmmakers Bonnie Cohen (The Rape of Europa) and Jon Shenk (The Island President, Lost Boys of Sudan), whom are partners in life and this film, handled it with confidence.
Today we can no longer pat ourselves on the back for knowing that the word “rape” is one of the most egregious things you can do to a fellow member of mankind. Personally as a man, and together as a collective, we must prevent it. We must be quick to console the victims and with the same swiftness, punish the perpetrators.
This seems like a sensible solution for one of the most ancient crimes of humanity, right? Yet, we continue to back the criminals and persecute the victims.
Audrie & Daisy follows two cases from opposite sides of the US that took place within eight months of each other.
Daisy Coleman was the tender age of 14 went the assault took place. She and her friend left a sleepover to join her brother at a party. It should have been just a simple adolescent night of drinking. But there, her brother Charlie Coleman’s older friends sexually assaulted and filmed Daisy and her friend. Daisy was left on her front lawn where she was found by her mother the next morning.
All of us at some time in our youth, have walked to the edge to check the resilience of our balance. But in Daisy’s case, a predator pushed her into the pit and she hit every ledge on the way down.
Daisy was bullied and tormented on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. She was called a slut and a liar. She was blamed for being at the party. She and her family were gruesomely tormented. The torment unfolded online through cyber-bullying and in the real world as the Coleman’s house was burned down. The Colmans experienced the depths of a cyber-hell. This is a classic example of when freedom of speech goes horribly wrong.
Audrie & Daisy focuses on another young girl as well, Audrie Pott. Audrie was only 15 at the time of her assault. I wish someone had continuously whispered “high school doesn’t matter” tenderly in her ear. But sadly no one did. Consumed by the hell of being sexually assaulted while being unconscious and then ridiculed by her peers, she took her life.
The tone and approach of Audrie & Daisy were leveled and considered, including the altered names of the suspects in Audrie Pott’s case to protect their identity. Directors Cohen and Shenk walk a journalistic tightrope, unable to sway too much, knowing that the spikes of subjectivity lie beneath. They had better temperance than I would have. I would’ve jumped in the spike pit.
The first spike I’d jump on would be the Maryville, Missouri police department. Stomaching the police department’s rhetoric in defense of releasing the dehumanizers who viciously destroyed Daisy Coleman’s essence, was hard to take. The Maryville, Missouri police department blamed Daisy and accused her of lying, although the little devil admitted to the crime.
It’s fair to say that I was incredulous through the entire documentary. Honestly, I wanted to turn it off because it was just awfulness after awfulness. This story has happened to so many women around the world. Audrie & Daisy shows that the victims had no support, no love and their lives were in shambles. Frankly, it was discouraging.
But I didn’t turn it off.
The survivors, these warriors, these resilient women, Daisy included, somehow made it through the tempest. They not only made it through their own apocalypses but somehow banded together and became a positive voice from a hole of utter blackness.
Whatever they’re doing now, I hope that they keep speaking, and I hope that their voice spreads like a wildfire – for their sake and everyone else that can relate to the experience of victim shaming and blaming.