It tends to be an all-too-“normal” occurrence these days. Turning on the news, only to hear about another drunk or unconscious girl who was raped, sexually assaulted, battered or even killed by a man who thought it would be okay to take advantage of her.
Brock Turner, the Stanford Rapist, is now a household name after he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, then only served three months in jail because “his future was too bright.” Cases like this are sweeping the nation, and as much as we hear about them happening, there are far more cases that go unreported, un-investigated and un-discussed.
That’s all about to change.
A September addition to Netflix is the 2016 Sundance Film Festival documentary Audrie & Daisy. It’s hands-down one of the most important things you could watch this year.
The real-life drama strategically examines the stories of two different girls, sexually assaulted on two different nights, in two different towns. The film relives the brutal and unfathomable harassment that they each faced following the assaults.
Audrie Pott was raped by three teenage boys who circulated photos of the attack afterward.
Daisy Coleman and her best friend, Paige, were both allegedly assaulted by Matthew Barnett—a friend of Daisy’s older brother.
The attack was reportedly videotaped and distributed. Daisy was 13 years old at the time. She was left outside in the snow after the attack, and found with her hair frozen to the ground.
Bullying does not even come close to the torture these girls endured following their sexual assaults.
Audrie committed suicide.
Daisy attempted suicide—twice, and her house was intentionally burned down.
Filmmakers Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk were blown away seeing the issues faced by America’s teenagers who are coming of age in the new world of social media bullying. It has spun wildly out of control.
“As parents of teenagers ourselves, we were deeply troubled by the frequency of sexual assaults in high schools across the country. But, even more shocking and new to us were the pictures and videos posted online—almost as trophies—by teens that have committed and witnessed these crimes. The online forum for sharing these images and comments has become the new public square of shame for our adolescents.”
The documentary is intense.
I found myself completely at a loss for how anything like this could ever happen. Shame is trending. The film is hard to watch, but even harder to pull away from because the documentary serves as a platform for discussing the disturbing epidemic of sexual violence.
Cohen and Shenk believe constructive conversation that engages parents, educators and communities in exploring paths toward change is the first step in stopping sexual violence before it starts. In addition to creating a powerful film, they’ve also developed a campaign for change.
The Audrie & Daisy Discussion Guide sets up a safe conversation between families, teens and communities. Their website is home to dozens of resources and tools for survivors, parents and advocates. They’ve initiated opportunities for everyone to take action, and you can even host your own screening of Audrie & Daisy to help raise awareness and cultivate a plan against sexual violence.
“When we began to screen the film, we witnessed first-hand the powerful, illuminating discussions that take place when teenagers, families and communities see Audrie & Daisy. It is because of the stories of Audrie and Daisy and the Pott and Coleman families that we ourselves have been able to have open, honest conversations with our own children about these difficult-to-broach subjects. We view Audrie & Daisy as an opportunity to address these complex issues in a refreshingly concrete manner. It is in this spirit that we offer the film and educational material to teachers, parents and communities.”
Check out Audrie & Daisy for yourself on Netflix and get the conversation going.