Audrie & Daisy is a must-see documentary by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk about two recent sexual assault victims — Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman — and the profound injustices visited upon these two young women, as well as survivors everywhere.
This film is one without a happy ending, as anyone who has followed the cases will know. The victims and namesakes of the films do not see justice. One committed suicide and the other was forced to flee her hometown — while those who violated them have gone on without punishment or justice.
The story is all too familiar to survivors, but it is a story that needs to be told until would-be rapists feel ill, until they want to plug their ears from the violence visited upon their psyches.
It must be told as a cautionary tale; not to blame victims, but to warn young people of the dangers and injustice out there.
It must be told until it makes lawmakers and those responsible for enforcing the law ache at the thought of it happening to their loved ones.
Audrie Pott was not asking for it, nor has any victim done so. The 15-year-old was at a party, intoxicated, when three of her friends forcefully stripped her, drew obscene things all over her body and photographed her naked body. The images were then distributed across the school and well beyond, accompanied with harsh words and bullying. Without any memory of the incident, Pott told a friend, “I now have a reputation that I can never get rid of … My life is over.”
Within a week, the inconsolable teen had hung herself. Those who violated her were barely prosecuted and just allowed to go on as though no wrong had been done to Pott.
Daisy Coleman was assaulted the same year across the country in Maryville, Missouri. Like Pott, 14-year-old Coleman was at a party with folks that she trusted. She and her best friend snuck out and had a few drinks at the party, hosted by her older brother’s athlete friends, though her brother was not present or aware of the invitation. The young girls were fed shots until they were practically unconscious, only to be assaulted on camera and then dumped half-naked in their yards. It was so cold the night of the assault that Coleman’s hair was frozen to the lawn when her parents found her the next morning.
As Audrie & Daisy shows, police dismissed the case for “lack of evidence,” even though one boy came forward. All-star football players, one of them the son of a State senator, allowed to live their lives as though nothing had happened. Just one of the boys,Matthew B. Barnett, ultimately pled guilty to endangering the welfare of a child.
Meanwhile, the girls were bullied, the Colemans’ home was vandalized and eventually burned down, all while the family was attempting to recover from the loss of the Coleman patriarch several years prior.
Survivor, activist and musician Tori Amos wrote a song for the film, “Flicker.” “After viewing the film, I spoke with Bonni and Jon about the devastating complexities of the stories they capture in Audrie & Daisy,” Amos said. “The song was informed by these conversations. I wrote ‘Flicker’ to hold a sonic space for the heroines of this powerful and timely documentary.”
“Flicker” is for sale now on iTunes — proceeds from the song will go to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), an organization Amos helped create more than 20 years ago.
Audrie & Daisy delves into the ugly world of social media and bullying, and how one click of the finger can change the lives of many. Unlike decades before, the connection to technology creates a new layer of danger for young people navigating rape culture.
Find out more about Audrie & Daisy at the film’s official website. It’s available to watch on Netflix now.