Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Missouri victim survives sexual assault, suffers insensitivity

Daisy Coleman was 14 years old when she claims she was sexually assaulted. Her friend, Paige Parkhurst, was only 13 years old when she was also sexually assaulted in the same house. If it were not for one article, neither of these two girls from a small town in Missouri may have seen justice.

The Kansas City Star published an article about Coleman and her family. Coleman and Parkhurst were invited over to a boy’s house; he was 17 at the time, and they had to sneak out. Both were given alcohol, which is where Coleman’s memories begin to blur, and subsequently they were both allegedly assaulted.

The next morning, Coleman’s mother found  her collapsed outside in their house in 30-degree weather, scratching at the door to be let in after being unceremoniously dumped there after her assault. She was dressed in only sweatpants and a t-shirt, and when her mother drew her a bath she found signs of sexual assault and immediately brought her to a doctor.

Initially, the boy was charged with sexual assault, a felony, and the endangerment of the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. He insisted that the sex was consensual. There was a recording of the sexual acts, interviews and evidence that supported the felony and misdemeanor charge. And then they were dropped.

In the following months, Coleman’s mother lost her job, then Coleman and her siblings faced persistent and cruel harassment by their peers; when they were forced to move, the house they’d put on sale was burned down. Coleman was admitted to hospitals, she attempted to commit suicide twice, Parkhurst had flashbacks and nightmares, and the alleged assailant found himself in a state university.

All of this occurred as a result of the hive-minded town they lived in, the family ties to a long lasting political figure in town and the human nature to blame the victim.  The town, rather than rallying behind the victims and trying to find ways to ensure safety for young girls everywhere, called for apologies to be made to the accused boys.

Now that the article has been published in highly thought out detail people are starting to speak out whether their message is negative or positive.

Anonymous, an activist hacking collective, has made its opinions clear on how Maryville has handled this case and have posted this statement to the public:

“We demand an immediate investigation into the handling by local authorities of Coleman’s case. We have heard Coleman’s story far too often. We heard it from Steubenville, Halifax and Uttar Pradesh. If Maryville won’t defend these young girls, if the police are too cowardly or corrupt to do their jobs, if the justice system has abandoned them, then we will have to stand for them.”

The group has gotten involved in cases likes these before, and usually successfully, such as when they reported information last year about the bullying of Amanda Todd, the girl who committed suicide after the abuse that followed after a topless photo of her leaked. They also threatened in 2012 to reveal the names of the students involved in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case, as well as other personal information.

How small are we as a group of individuals that we reach out and celebrate a group of faceless activists rather than raising our voices and questioning injustices ourselves? We’ve become far too dependent on the ease that comes from fighting from behind a computer screen.

A damaging article was posted by Emily Yoffe, a writer for who posted an article in the wake of these sexual assaults titled “College Women: Stop Getting Drunk.” The article went on to bemoan women who drank heavily in colleges across the country and warned them that doing so increased the likelihood of them being sexually assaulted. Yoffe was apparently on a higher tier of thought where she was all the wiser for knowing that drinking inhibits a person’s thought process.

Let us bypass the insensitivity and untimely nature of the article and focus on the worst part: the audience she was aiming for. Any advice for rape prevention that isn’t “don’t rape” is wrong and missing the point. Why is it that these are the expected articles that pop up when something of this nature happened? Where are the articles entitled “College Men: Don’t Rape?” The fact is that, whether drunk or not, if a rapist has a target in mind, not much will deter them.

Coleman however, fought  back at the negative articles and wrote an article from her perspective. She wrote:

“I not only survived, I didn’t give it up. I’ve been told that a special prosecutor is going to reopen the case now. This is a victory, not just for me, but for every girl.”

Her telling was heartbreaking because of the naivety that was stolen from her, but inspiring for the overall message. There is one underlying theme that is upsetting: why did Coleman have to turn into a survivor?

Because, in this day and age, women are expected to be survivors. Women have to have their battle plans set: who to walk with, how to hold their keys in their hands, what to wear to protect themselves, they need their game faces on, the outcome of a terrible event potentially planned out and they expect to be ridiculed or questioned if such an assault ever does take place.

Coleman is a survivor and stronger than any girl her age has any right to be and women everywhere have been taught through warning that to survive they need to be a fighter. And sometimes even that isn’t enough.

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Missouri victim survives sexual assault, suffers insensitivity