In a chilling 'It Happened to Me' column for xoJane, Daisy Coleman, one of two teenage victims at the center of the now-intensely publicized Maryville rape case, shares her story in her own words. She discusses her life as a 14-year-old cheerleader, her 2012 rape at the hands of two older schoolmates, and the trauma that's followed her ever since. "My whole life since January 8, 2012," she writes, "has been a long, reckless winter."
In brief, it's a disturbingly familiar narrative involving a small town rallying around its high school athletes who seem privileged above the law. But Coleman's piece adds intensely personal specifics to the broader contours—as well as a glimpse into her own trauma. Coleman was too drunk to recall the rape itself ("it was like I fell into a dark abyss"), but she recounts nearly freezing to death after being dropped outside her home that night:
My mother told me she found me outside, left for dead, and when she heard me trying to get to the door, she thought it was a dog scratching. I was weak and could have died in the below freezing temperatures.
Next thing I knew, I was in the ER getting blood drawn and having various tests done. We all knew what had happened, we just wanted someone else to say it for us. The doctors examined the rape kit and verified that our nightmares were real
She also tells of the treatment she received after she went public: her brother was bullied, her mother was fired, she was suspended from the cheerleading squad, and she "sat alone in my room, most days, pondering the worth of my life." There's more:
I burned and carved the ugly I saw into my arms, wrists, legs and anywhere I could find room.
On Twitter and Facebook, I was called a skank and a liar and people encouraged me to kill myself. Twice, I did try to take my own life.
The experience, Coleman writes, "will live with me forever." Now that a special prosecutor is being appointed to investigate the case, it may live with the perpetrators, too. Matthew Barnett, a 17-year-old football player (and grandson of a state legislator) was accused of supplying alcohol to Coleman and her friends, having sex with her while intoxicated, and later leaving her unconscious in the snow outside her Maryville, MO home. Missouri Prosecutor Robert Rice later dropped charges against the boys, but the recent firestorm of attention this month pressured him to reopen the case.