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Oct 19 2013

Daisy Coleman speaks up

Daisy Coleman is the teenage girl at the center of the Maryville rape storm, and she wants to tell the world what really happened.

She was 14. She had her best friend Paige, who was 13, over for the night to hang out and watch scary movies – and drink alcohol, against her mother’s known wishes and rules. She was texting with an older boy her brother had warned her about. Update: That looks censorious, and that’s not what I meant. I meant to summarize so as not to paste in the whole article, and to give all the relevant facts. I needed to include both the drinking alcohol and the fact that it wasn’t with parental approval.

It wasn’t until later that night that Matt, a popular senior boy, had asked to hang out. Of course, I knew my brothers wouldn’t allow this so, we had to sneak out. It was about one in the morning when my friend and I climbed out of my bedroom window. 

Dumb move. I can imagine what it felt like at the time though – an adventure; exciting; a secret. Update: As above. Just editorial comment – yes, obviously that was a dumb move, but I remember that teenage longing for adventure.

There were bedrooms and a living room area in the basement. I sat on the couch and gathered familiar faces from the room. Four of Matt’s friends were there. Matt emerged from one of the bedrooms with a bottle of clear alcohol he wanted me to drink. This is when one of Matt’s friends suggested I drink from a tall shot glass, which they labeled the “bitch cup.”

About five shots tall, I drank it. I guess I didn’t know how badly it would mess me up. But the boys who gave it to me did.

Then it was like I fell into a dark abyss. No light anywhere. Just dark, dense silence — and cold. That’s all I could ever remember from that night. Apparently, I was there for not even an entire hour before they discarded me in the snow.

Not a fun adventure. Her life turned to shit. Update: She did a couple of silly things, as teenagers do, and the boys at that party did horrible, callous, brutal things and turned her life to shit. It is the boys who are at fault, not Daisy and Paige.

I was suspended from the cheerleading squad and people told me that I was “asking for it” and would “get what was coming.”

Why would I even want to believe in a God? Why would a God even allow this to happen? I lost all faith in religion and humanity. I saw myself as ugly, inside and out. If I was this ugly on the inside, then why shouldn’t everyone see the ugly I saw?

I burned and carved the ugly I saw into my arms, wrists, legs and anywhere I could find room.

On Twitter and Facebook, I was called a skank and a liar and people encouraged me to kill myself. Twice, I did try to take my own life.

When I went to a dance competition I saw a girl there who was wearing a T-shirt she made. It read: “Matt 1, Daisy 0.”

Gee, Daisy never knew she’d entered a competition.

Since this happened, I’ve been in hospitals too many times to count. I’ve found it impossible to love at times. I’ve gained and lost friends. I no longer dance or compete in pageants. I’m different now, and I can’t ever go back to the person I once was. That one night took it all away from me. I’m nothing more than just human, but I also refuse to be a victim of cruelty any longer.

This is why I am saying my name. This is why I am not shutting up. Matt put on Twitter something recently. It read: “If her name begins with A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z, she wants the D.”

Since Anonymous has gotten involved, everything has changed. #justice4Daisy has trended on the Internet, and pressure has come down hard on the authorities who thought they could hide what really happened.

I not only survived, I didn’t give up. I’ve been told that a special prosecutor is going to reopen the case now. This is a victory, not just for me, but for every girl.

I just hope more men will take a lesson from my brothers.

They look out for women. They don’t prey on them.

A simple, good rule.

30 comments

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  1. 1
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    I object to the characterisation of their sneaking out as “dumb move”. It comes across as condescendingly judgemental. A little reckless, maybe, but then at 13 and 14, not being able to anticipate potential consequences are par for the course. Probably, the worst they envisioned happening was getting caught and grounded for a while. Perhaps.

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    Well that’s what dumb move means. And it seems silly to ignore the fact that drinking alcohol at 14 and 13 is dumb, or that sneaking out at 1 a.m. to go to a party is dumb. She did several dumb teenage things, and the punishment for that SHOULD NOT BE RAPE.

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    And it’s not judgmental. I made some dumb moves as a teenager, I understand making them, that doesn’t make them not dumb.

    I was thinking about it apropos of this case the other day. A friend and I went to see the young Bob Dylan one Saturday night in Princeton – 1964 I think it was. Afterward we went around to the back to see if we could say hi or something and, weirdly, we did – Dylan and Peter Orlovsky and some other guy came out and got ready to get in their car and leave and we dangled around talking to them. There was some vague talk about our going with them, back to the dear Village. I wanted to – I think I would have done it if they’d seriously pushed it. And no doubt gotten myself raped. Dumb move.

  4. 4
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    I guess I just don’t get calling children “dumb” or “stupid” as though they ought to magically have an adult’s knowledge and experience.

  5. 5
    Avicenna

    Yes but these are dumb moves I made as a kid and did not get raped for that.

  6. 6
    Avicenna

    And these are dumb moves I want my kids to be able to make without such a horrid punishment. They deserve groundings not rape and hypothermia.

  7. 7
    Ophelia Benson

    Ibis, I didn’t call them dumb, I said it was a dumb move. I think Daisy was saying much the same thing. Look, the point was to say “yes, dumb move, obviously dumb move, and NOT PUNISHABLE BY RAPE.”

    Avi – exactly – that was my point.

  8. 8
    maudell

    I had the same reaction as Ibis3 (I agree with the rest of the post).

    The thing is that sneaking out is only a dumb move when something bad happens. At her age (a bit over 10 years ago), I was kind of a dork and I was heavily bullied (physically and mentally). When I started sneaking out and getting wasted with other teens, around age 14, people ceased to bully me. I wouldn’t say I became popular, but I became ok. It had a great effect on my mental health (not endorsing kids getting drunk, but it’s a complex issue).

    My point is – I know my experience is anecdotal. But I think as adults we lose perspective of teen’s cost/benefit analysis when breaking their parent’s rules. Social pressure is huge at that point, and yes, drinking can drastically improve someone’s social status. Even as a young girl, I remember how people ‘admired me’ for being able to drink more than the guys (which is messed up in itself). Of course, I did not understand rape at that time, so I could not weight the risks properly. However, I think it’s a lot more complicated than a ‘dumb move/smart move dichotomy. The ‘dumb’ thing is the culture that makes it a potential (social) benefit for a 13 year old to go out and get drunk with the cool (often older) kids.

  9. 9
    Ophelia Benson

    Exactly.

    Lordy – are you guys reading me as saying the opposite? I said I get why the dumb move seemed like a fun idea at the time. Why are you reading that as saying or implying they deserved rape as a punishment?!

  10. 10
    Reginald Selkirk

    Ibis3, Let’s burn some bridges: I guess I just don’t get calling children “dumb” or “stupid”…

    You seem to have difficulty parsing. You cannot seem to distinguish between calling a person “dumb” and calling an action they took “dumb.” I hope your “burn some bridges” name means you expect to go away and not come back.

  11. 11
    ludicrous

    I’m with Ibis3 and Maudell,

    If Daisy had been 25 her sneaking out would more likely be referred to as a ‘big mistake’ rather than a ‘dumb move’. Different connotation.

  12. 12
    Marie-Thérèse O'Loughlin

    This is such a terrible story. It started off with the loss of the father, who was a physician, who died tragically in a car accident. The brothers obviously were very protective of their teenage sister because they probably felt it was their duty to care for her after the demise of their father. Sadly – being a teenager, Daisy was hardly going to take any sound advice from her siblings. That’s understandable, especially when it comes from those who are on a par with her age-wise.

    Then – for Daisy and her friend to get raped. Then again – have their house burned down, and be taunted by the community. It just got worse.

    I hope there is enough rage in Internet circles that will see justice being done to Daisy, her friend and the family.

    The family got such a raw deal before their arrival into the community, and should have been made to feel welcome because of their loss. Instead they had to deal with the high-ups, who carry so much weight. It’s shocking.

  13. 13
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    I’m not reading it as though you’re saying that it deserved rape as punishment. I’m reading it as “A smart move is what a smart girl would obviously do, and Daisy, you’re dumb so you did the opposite. Not that dumb, stupid girls like you deserve x bad consequences, but you should’ve known better.”

    A dumb move, to me, is something a person can avoid making if they’re meeting the standards of rationality we expect for them. When I was about 11 or 12, our house was for sale and I was the only one home one day (which was typical–I was a “latchkey kid”) when a stranger came to the door and asked if he could take a look around the place. I was trusting and naive and said “sure” and let him in. I don’t think I even followed into every room. Obviously (to we adults), that could have ended in any number of disasters: kidnapping, rape, murder, theft, a later burglary, just to name a few. But what I did, I wouldn’t condemn as being “dumb” whether or not something bad happened as a result (as it happened, nothing did, afaik).

  14. 14
    Ophelia Benson

    Jesus fuck. Why are you reading it that way? Ok, if you’d never read a word I’d written before, then I could see it. But in context? When you’re familiar with my writing, and this place drips with my outrage at crimes against women and girls?

    What you’re reading it as is fucking malicious. You have zero reason to think I’m saying “Daisy, you’re dumb.”

  15. 15
    Ophelia Benson

    @ 11 – hello? At 25 there is no such thing as “sneaking out” – people who are 25 are free to come and go, in an open society. Children “sneak out” because they’re supposed to stay in, and they’re supposed to stay in mostly so that adults can protect and take care of them. They’re vulnerable.

  16. 16
    RJC

    Reading comprehension seems to be very low today.

  17. 17
    rncbsn

    OK, Ibis3, lay off Ophelia Benson, won’t you? It’s perfectly acceptable to characterize acts of disobedient recklessness that endanger a child as “dumb,” even if the dumb act is done by the child, herself.

    There is NOTHING in what Ophelia Benson said that remotely suggests she thinks Daisy Coleman is, herself, “dumb.”
    I can’t see interpreting OB’s words as calling the child “dumb” can be anything other than deliberate obtuseness in the service of being an argumentative jerk.

    Really? Taking OB to task for her treatment of/ words about victims of sexist oppression? Sheesh.

  18. 18
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Maybe I’m reading it that way for reasons to do with myself and my experiences.* I was not saying it was your intention, only that it came across that way. I can’t quite wrap my mind around how calling an action “dumb” can be value- or judgement neutral of the person responsible for the action. Maybe because whenever an adult said that about something I’d done, it was always, without doubt, condemnation.

    Sorry for the derail.

    @Reginald Selkirk

    I hope your “burn some bridges” name means you expect to go away and not come back.

    Fuck off.

    *And my reaction in this case is more about adults in general (or maybe just some adults?) holding children to unrealistic standards and being unjustifiably critical, than about crimes against women and girls per se.

  19. 19
    Ophelia Benson

    @ 16 and 17, thanks!

    I did add an update though. I can see why “drink alcohol, against her mother’s known wishes and rules” looked judgmental, and maybe colored the reading of what I said later. I just meant to note that she knew she was breaking a rule. I broke quite a few rules as both a child and a teenager. I once ran away to New York and spent the night hanging out in Washington Square Park! I was reckless as hell. I’m not judging Daisy.

  20. 20
    rncbsn

    Ibis, Thanks for giving some thought to people’s arguments with your original comment. I admire you for it.

    Incidentally, allow me to join you in inviting Reginald Selkirk to fuck off. Anyone who’s read your comments on this and other blogs knows your voice and contribution are immensely valuable. Please DO NOT GO AWAY!

    Fuck off, Reginald.

  21. 21
    Ophelia Benson

    Cool; it’s ok, Ibis.

    “Dumb move” – huh – that’s kind of a stock phrase – which one can and does say of oneself. I make dumb moves all the time, and say so. It’s like saying “I fucked up.” I don’t hear it as judgmental.

  22. 22
    Pieter B, FCD

    I made a lot of dumb moves as a teenager 50 years ago, and the most recent big dumb move I made was within the last decade. Fortunately most of those stupid decisions didn’t result in serious injury. I’m considered pretty intelligent, but at times my brain goes on vacation. The person who hasn’t done stupid things hasn’t done much.

  23. 23
    Great American Satan

    I, conversely, haven’t done much and still managed to do foolish things.

  24. 24
    karmacat

    This story is horrible in so many ways. In addition to raping this girl, the rapist almost killed her with alcohol and then dumping her outside in the snow. I keep wondering how Matt Baxter’s parents raised him. I know you can’t always blame the parents for everything. (I work with eating disorder patients and I see a range of caring and stable parents to really messed up parents) But Matt Baxter must have swiss cheese kind of conscience. How is it that he can dump someone as if she is trash and not a human being.

    And then certain people in the town didn’t just blame the girl, they also tortured that girl and her family. I looked up groupthink and then looked up the town of Maryvale so as to figure what would lead these people to be so cruel. I know I am asking a lot of questions that don’t have simple answers. I did have a doctor teach us about how to detect sexual and physical abuse of children. Then he asked “Why do we hate our children…” I just don’t know what else to say.

    I am glad that Daisy has found a way to be strong again.

  25. 25
    Al Dente

    Matt got Daisy passed-out drunk and raped her. Paige was fairly sober but was taken to a room, undressed, and despite repeatedly saying “no” was raped by Matt’s buddy. These two boys decided that raping young girls was what they wanted to do and it didn’t matter what the girls wanted.

    Then the town decided that the boys were blameless and the girls deserved to be raped.

    Some people refuse to admit a rape culture exists. The events in Maryville are evidence that it does.

  26. 26
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    I wonder how different this stories’ aftermath would be if Daisy had frozen to death after being dumped unconscious in the snow and it was a charge of murder – as well as rape – that was at stake here?

  27. 27
    johnthedrunkard

    Ophelia;

    I’ve skipped past most of the comments because I’ve already seen the crazy outrage in response to Yoffe on Slate. Because alcohol, because sex.

    If those monsters had handed Daisy a tablet of Rohypnol, or a line of crank or a syringe of heroin, none of this crazy Don’t Blame the Victim madness would be happening.

    If Daisy had been the victim of some OTHER crime, the madness would not be spinning either.

    Pouring alcohol into 14 year olds is equivalent to chloroforming them. Alcohol is a toxic, dangerous drug. It is more toxic to women than to men, to the young than to the old. Above all, alcohol is toxic to those with the biological vulnerability that Daisy, and I, seem to have.

    The boozy ‘hipster’ culture of the web normalizes drunken sexual ‘acting out’ and cannot grasp the horror of Daisy’s situation. I suspect that many of the outraged posters on Slate or Jezebel are people for whom sex without alcohol is an alien notion.

    As a six foot tall, white, male, I walked through an unknown number of situations that might have ended in death or victimization had those conditions been otherwize.

  28. 28
    theobromine

    FWIW, I’m with Ophelia: It was a dumb move. No, that does *not* mean that Daisy should bear any of the blame or responsibility for having been raped.

    I’ve been a teenager, and I’ve been a parent of teenagers, and I know that both are very difficult. A parent’s role is to guide a child as they grow from being a helpless infant to a responsible adult. The hard problem is to figure out how/when to relinquish control. Obviously, parents do not allow 2-year-olds to decided for themselves whether to drink alcohol and whether to leave the house in the middle of the night. On the other hand, in most cases it is completely reasonable to trust a teenager with having complete freedom to make their own decisions on those points. Yes, the teenagers will sometimes choose incorrectly. All that the parents can do is teach the kids some self-rescue strategies in advance, and help the kids out of their predicaments when they occur. The only other alternative would be to not allow teens to make decisions in areas in which they are not cognitively prepared, which I think is both immoral and self-defeating.

  29. 29
    Kate

    Sadly, that’s not entirely true, johnthedrunkard. Even if Daisy was drugged with roofies, opiates, etc.—forcibly or unbeknownst to her—she would still be at blame to these callous assholes by virtue of having sneaked out to the rapist’s party and by virtue of being a teenage girl. Honestly, the only way Daisy might have been seen as a (near) perfect victim is if she had been kidnapped, and even then.

  30. 30
    rnilsson

    Kudos to Daisy, and why … no, I can not bring myself to recommend bulldozing an entire town, even if it’s full of evildoers. So, admitted, I am not Yahweh and Maryville is not quite Gomorrah.

    Pretty good impression, though. Pillar of salt vs Ice statue. Matter of latitute. Or lassitude perhaps.

    Lot to feel sad about.

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