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Sexting, Shame and Suicide. A shocking story of intimate attack within the Digital Age

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Sexting, Shame and Suicide. A shocking story of intimate attack within the Digital Age

Nina Burleigh

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Sexting Shame & Suicide

Illustration by Jesse Lenz

O n the final day’s her life, Audrie Pott stepped by way of a crucible of teenage torment. A sophomore that is curvaceous Saratoga highschool, wearing the cool-girl’s uniform of a low-cut top and supershort skirt, she seemed just like constantly, but inside she ended up being quivering with humiliation. Into the week since college had started, girls have been providing her appearance, and dudes had congregated around phones, smirking. On Twitter, messages were pinging into her inbox, every one delivering another gut punch: “shit went down ahah jk i bet u already got enough ppl talking it to myself haha. About this therefore sick continue. ”

“honestly like really no light hearted matter everybody else knows…. ”

“u had been one horny mofo. ”

A grown-up monitor handed her a violation that is dress-code her dress had been too brief – despite the fact that most of the girls in her own class dressed like that and monitors seldom objected. She cut just just what classes she could, blowing down chemistry for 2 times in a line, looking in order to avoid confrontations with disapproving girlfriends. Then Kathy Atabakhsh, certainly one of her close friends, tore she was, of becoming a different person into her on the school quad, accusing her of drinking, of forgetting who. “She have been, literally, the very best individual you can meet – constantly honest and trustworthy, ” Kathy says, recalling the episode very nearly per year later on. “And I became therefore upset that she had changed. It absolutely was hard for her to know that from a detailed buddy. ” She recalls the final terms she believed to Audrie. “You need certainly to return to truth, ” Kathy informed her.

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At lunchtime, Audrie texted her mother in the office: “Mom, please select me up. ” Sheila Pott, a mortgage-loan officer, asked why and whether Audrie could wait for her n’t in order to complete a small business meeting. Audrie was insistent, after which stopped responding to texts.

Whenever Sheila pulled up in her own vehicle later that Monday afternoon on September tenth, 2012, Audrie jumped in but stayed silent in the drive home that is short. Sheila ended up being familiar with her 15-year-old daughter’s emotions and stopped pushing her. If they got to their ranch-style house, where that they had been residing alone together since Sheila had split along with her boyfriend the entire year before, Audrie retreated to her room, along with its Audrey Hepburn poster and silk-upholstered screen chair. Around 20 mins passed away before Sheila made a decision to check up on her child. She wandered over the home and along the long carpeted hallway to your restroom home adjoining Audrie’s space. The entranceway had been locked. Audrie didn’t solution. Sheila knocked and knocked once again. One thing about a panic was pushed by the silence switch inside her. She grabbed the thing that is first may find to jimmy the lock – the tiny steel pole at the conclusion of her phone’s earplug – and jammed it in to the doorknob. Flinging the hinged home available, she confronted a sight now completely etched in her own memory. When you look at the pale-peach restroom, along with its shell-shaped sink, gold fixtures and slim tub, her only youngster was hanging from a gear connected to the shower head, mascara streaking her face.

Sheila sprinted down the hallway, back in your kitchen, grabbed a knife and cut her daughter down, attempting to keep in mind just how to perform CPR while dialing 911. Paramedics arrived in just camonster a minutes that are few. They restarted Audrie’s heart, nonetheless it was too late. The brown-eyed woman whom loved horses, art and pranks could not inhale on her own again.

There was clearly no note, absolutely nothing to explain why her popular and pretty child had done it. Into the medical center, Sheila started retracing events that are recent interested in some clue in regards to what may have forced her child to just just take her very own life. She seriously considered Audrie’s strange silence on the afternoon after a sleepover the weekend before. And she remembered the ink that is green noticed around her daughter’s cleavage, strange markings that Audrie had refused to spell out.

S aratoga senior school, featuring its country-club-worthy­quad, Olympic-size swimming pool and plush tennis courts, is certainly one of those affluent California schools US teens recognize from films and television. Found in the heart of Silicon Valley, the educational college hosts high-achieving kiddies of moms and dads working at Apple, e-bay, Netflix as well as other technology corporations headquartered within 50 kilometers. In the event that Saratoga Falcons would not regularly field an absolute soccer group, there’s consolation into the proven fact that each graduating class has propelled lots of children into Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Berkeley.

Summer time before her death, Audrie had started initially to alter, getting off the young kids she’d hung out with since center college. She had started initially to drink a small and had dated a somewhat older man. Whenever she drank, the self-consciousness which had afflicted her since junior high melted away. She loosened up. Often, she loosened up a whole lot.

On work Day week-end of this school that is new, Audrie’s friend, let’s call her “Sara” (many of the young ones’ names in this story have now been changed to safeguard their identities), stated her moms and dads had been away, leaving their white cottage-style house or apartment with its long green yard in her own care. Sara – 15, pretty, slim and that is blond Audrie had become close that summer time and were checking out a fresh world of guys, bottles and little events, ideally at parent-free homes, that the Saratoga children call “kickbacks. ”

That Sunday, Sara informed her parents that she would definitely be resting over at Audrie’s, and Audrie shared with her mother that she’d be resting over at Sara’s. Whenever Sheila drove Audrie to Sara’s, she assumed girls will be investing the night within their jammies as you’re watching television, or giggling over ice cream and Facebook. But Sara had currently texted around a dozen buddies to drop set for her kickback.

Sooner or later, 11 children arrived, many to sip vodka and Gatorade cocktails. All of them belonged with their class’s popular clique, girls dressed as provocatively as you can, also by the free standards of Ca high schools. “See-through shorts and thongs pulled up, shorts pulled down, ” recalls a mature woman. “That’s what the girls that are‘cool wore. ” The men they hung down with preferred a uniform locally dubbed “swagfag” – snapback hat, PacSun tank tops, knee-length chino shorts and Vans.

A few children had brought some containers of alcohol – rum taken from Safeway, vodka purchased for them by a grownup at a alcohol shop. They ultimately guzzled a container of tequila that Sara’s moms and dads kept in their own personal case. The mixer of preference had been Gatorade, or downed right. Audrie drank most difficult of all of the.

When Audrie’s old middle-school friends, Kathy, Amanda Le and another girl, appeared around 9 p.m., there clearly was no music, simply the noise of sloppy-drunk talk. Audrie had been stumbling and incoherent, taking shots and making away with various men in the living-room settee. Her friends had been appalled. “I never ever saw, I experienced simply learned about times she had gotten drunk, ” says Kathy. “She had been therefore diverse from the way I knew her become. Because we had been sober, we noticed exactly what ended up being happening, and additionally they didn’t understand what these people were doing. ”

Sara seemed therefore trashed whenever she greeted them in the home that Kathy does not even think her classmate respected her. “There ended up being stuff throughout the tables, ” Kathy says. “Superdirty. That they had meals and a entire couple of crap every-where. People falling over, walking on. At some time, I happened to be like, ‘I feel superuncomfortable, everyone’s so trashed and then we are simply sitting right here. ’ therefore we left. ”