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High School Sexual Assault Survivor Took Her Life At 23 Years: “My Baby Girl Is Gone”

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Daisy Coleman, a sexual assault victim had died by suicide at the age of 23. Her mother, Melinda, shared the news on Facebook on Tuesday. “My daughter committed suicide tonight,” She wrote. “If you saw crazy messages and posts, it was because I called the police to check on her. She was such an amazing girl and my best friend. I think she had to make it seem like I could live without her but I can’t. I wish I could have taken the pain from her so she won’t have to feel them again. She couldn’t recover from what those boys did to her and it’s so terrible what they did, it’s not fair. My baby girl is gone.”

Daisy Coleman was only 14 when she was sexually assaulted by Matthew Barnett, a teenager from Missouri. When she talked about how she was sexually assaulted, she faced severe backlash. After the sexual assault incident, she was left at her doorstep in only a T-shirt, for hours outside, in the freezing temperatures. She accused Matthew of rape and it led to a felony sexual assault charge against him, but the accusations were later dropped when Matthew said it was consensual and not an assault. The investigation fired up after when Daisy said that she’d left her house with her friend Paige to meet up with Matthew, whom she said knocked her out with alcohol, then forcefully raped her.

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Sex between minors aged 14 or above is legal in Missouri. However, after the allegations, Daisy and her family had a hard time. Daisy’s brother Charlie was constantly booed at school and her mum Melinda was fired from her job. The charges against Matthew and Jordan Zech (who filmed the incident) were dropped after two months. When Daisy heard the charges were dropped, she began to harm herself for the first time, burning the boys’ names in her forearm, then consuming bottles of cold medicine. “She said everyone hated her and she hated herself too, “Her mum recalls. She often crushed pills in juice. Charlie, now 20, found Daisy unconscious. “My boys were hysterical,” says Melinda.

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Tristan, 15, her youngest, “who had already lost his father, kept saying, ‘Daisy please don’t go, we can’t lose you too.” Four days before Matthew’s plea, Daisy tried to take her life again. After being hospitalized, Daisy told a social worker that her third attempt to end her life was deliberate. “It’s obvious she’s not just doing it to seek attention because she was hurting.,” says Melinda. “The last two times were overdosing and serious, and that’s the scariest part: the increasing intensity.” But she recovered strongly, and she associated herself with the national campaign Safe Before Anyone Else – to help steer others away from potential sexual violence.

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Back in 2017, she spoke with PEOPLE about the incident, “The bullying was really intense because it didn’t just end at school,” Coleman says. “When I would go home, it would be over Facebook and Instagram. These people always hurled crueler things at me because it’s such a dehumanized way of speaking … a lot of things affected me personally and it changed my view of myself and my idea of self-worth and self-esteem.” As for working towards educating people on the violence of sexual abuse, she said, “I definitely feel like people have certain views and perceptions about me and about cases like sexual assault because they’re uneducated. That’s exactly why I’m going out and trying to educate people on what’s going on in our society.”

Coleman also featured in the Netflix documentary Audrie & Daisy in 2016. In 2014, Matthew pleaded guilty to child endangerment and was sentenced to two years’ probation. Three years later, Coleman said that she has no hatred towards him. “I honestly don’t hate him or have any vindictive feelings against him,” Coleman said in 2017. “I feel like all of the negativity that he put on me was passed down to him at one point, so I felt the need to stop that kind of transaction of negativity and hate. I went through a lot of years of self-loathing and asking myself why it had to be me. So much ‘woe is me,” she continued. “I just decided one day that I was done being negative about it. I needed to forgive myself for what happened.”

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