Watching Audrie & Daisy was 're-traumatizing' for rape survivor Daisy Coleman
Netflix's new documentary Audrie and Daisy is about two teen girls who were sexually assaulted, then cyber-bullied and shamed online. We sat down with Daisy Coleman to find out what it was like to share such an intensely personal story.
Audrie and Daisy is a very difficult film to watch but perhaps the most important film of the year when it comes to protecting our kids. Rape culture continues to make headlines, but for two young girls, Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman, their sexual assaults were made even more tragic when the people they thought were their friends shared photos and videos of the assaults with their entire schools. Sadly, Audrie Pott was so devastated, she took her own life, never having had the chance to tell her story. Daisy Coleman has now become a voice for Pott and others by bravely opening up on film about her own difficult experience.
In the beginning, Coleman admitted that she was wary of being a part of the documentary and felt very hesitant for the first two or three months. But then, something in her shifted.
"It was after I learned about Audrie's full story, and about how she never got a chance to speak out against her perpetrators because she was bullied immediately after her assault, that I felt really powerfully about being a voice for her," Coleman said.
Still, the process of reliving her own nightmare wasn't easy. The first time Coleman ever saw the film was at the Sundance Film Festival, where she viewed it with a full audience.
"The first few times I saw the movie, it was slightly re-traumatizing for me because I was basically rehashing my whole life story. But after watching it so many times and going to the Q&As with so many other survivors and victims — I met so many people who are just really grateful that the film was being released — they came forward and told me about their own experiences. I realized the film is much more powerful than just my story. I’m just one of 1 million different cases in our nation. There's so many other women and young adults with so many parallels to my story, Delaney's story and everyone else's story. All survivors and victims are connected in one way or another."
Delaney Henderson also shares her story of sexual assault in the film and has become a close friend of Coleman's.
Bonni Cohen, the movie's co-director, says some very important conversations need to start happening.
"We really hope that viewers will start to look at their own families, their own schools and communities, and really ask questions that will bring us all out of this denial. Parents may think, 'Oh, it’s not my kid who's sending nude photos of herself to her school friends' or 'Oh, it's not my son who's asking for them, my kid would never bully another kid online or post something inappropriate.' There's a lot of denial among parents about what their kids' lives are like online. We really want to unlock what's really going on and get kids and parents to talk openly and honestly about that life and how it's being led," Cohen said.
Cohen also thinks education around these topics needs to start much earlier. "By the time you get to high school, it’s too late," she said.
Despite all the darkness in Coleman's past, we're delighted to report that her future looks very bright.
"I have tons of plans. I’m going to tour around colleges on the East Coast and speak about students' Title IX rights, bystander intervention and victim empowerment," Coleman said.
Audrie and Daisy is now streaming on Netflix.
If you suspect someone might be considering suicide, or if you have struggled with those thoughts yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).