It’s been a year and a day since Daisy Coleman was dumped on her mother’s porch, with her veins full of alcohol and no warm winter coat on her back. A year, a day and a night since she was at a party where a popular, older guy thrust a tall glass of vodka into her very under-age hand and told her to chug it or she would be a “bitch”. A year and a day since Daisy Coleman was deliberately set drunk and raped, and then left to freeze on her own doorstep.
And in that year and a day, Daisy has attempted suicide three times. The latest attempt came on the eve of the anniversary of the worst night of her life.
How could this happen? Well, in light of what she has gone through, it would be more surprising if it didn’t.
From the start, Daisy was treated like shit. Her assailant was obviously practiced in the art of date rape, since he apparently knew just how much vodka it would take to knock her cold so he could have his way with her unconscious body and make a cellphone video of the attack. And he was very insistent that she drink it all. He, of course, drank not nearly so much. After all, he had to be sober enough to do the deed, right?
And after the deed was done, and Daisy was dumped on her mother’s doorstep, with no one apparently caring if she lived or died, the next phase of her long nightmare began. The town of Maryville closed ranks around the attacker, who just so happened to be the grandson of a prominent Republican politician. Apparently football players and scions of local political power are supposed to be exempt from all scrutiny, as well as the long arm of the law. The town undertook to silence Daisy, whose father is dead and whose family isn’t from there, in any way it could.
And those ways were brutal. There was no support in Maryville for Daisy or her friend Paige Parkhurst, who was also raped at that same party. Instead, there was an intense campaign of slut-shaming with ugly triumphalist overtones. The video of the rape got passed around, then mysteriously “disappeared” before it could be entered as evidence. A girl showed up wearing a t-shirt reading “Matt 1, Daisy 0” to a dance competition where Daisy, a member of the school dance team, was to perform. She was never punished for that ugly infraction, even though the whole school knew, by then, what had happened.
There is no solidarity for victims in Maryville, only for the perpetrators. Daisy’s brother was bullied at school; Daisy was harassed by schoolmates nonstop, online and off. She attempted suicide twice. The abuse got so bad that the Coleman family was forced to abandon their house and put it on the market; shortly thereafter, someone set fire to it. The arson was a clear warning to Daisy and her mom: Don’t press charges, or else.
Just a few days ago, some psychopath left some dismembered, dead rabbits in a car belonging to Paige Parkhurst’s parents. It was eerily reminiscent of that scene in Fatal Attraction where a spurned mistress, increasingly deranged, lashes out at her ex-lover any way she can…and ends up boiling his daughter’s pet bunny on the stove. The whole town probably knows who’s behind that incident, too…and no one wants to talk about it. They’d rather keep their wagons circled and protect their precious reputation, even though the whole town’s name might as well be Mud by now.
And now it’s come to this: No sexual assault charges for Matthew Barnett, who set Daisy drunk on purpose, and raped her, and made a video of the assault. All he gets is 100 hours…for child endangerment. That’s for plying her with that fucking vodka. That’s a slap on the wrist.
And there is no doubt in my mind that Daisy saw this all coming. And what timing, too! No wonder she was so despondent, and tried to take her own life…again. A whole year of nonstop torment can do that to a person. The bleak anniversary passed without even the hope of vindication; only a tawdry, meaningless “apology” from the perp, whose life will now go on with barely a beat missed. Who knows what else he’ll get away with when this is all over?
If it were me in Daisy’s shoes, I wouldn’t want to live, either.
It may take a village to raise a child, but apparently it also takes a town to destroy one. And if only Maryville could be charged collectively with attempted murder, it ought to be. I can’t think of a place more deserving of the world’s collective contempt right now. Maryville is Steubenville on steroids, and it is a town without pity.
PS: If you haven’t done so yet, now would be a good time to let Daisy know you’re on her side, too.