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 day that is last of life, Audrie Pott strolled via a crucible of teenage torment. A curvaceous sophomore at Saratoga senior school, dressed up in the cool-girl’s uniform of a low-cut top and supershort dress, she seemed exactly like constantly, but inside she had been quivering with humiliation. Into the week since college had started, girls have been offering her appearance, and dudes had congregated around phones, smirking. On Twitter, messages had been pinging into her inbox, each one of these delivering another gut punch: “shit went down ahah jk i bet u currently got enough ppl talking it to myself haha. About any of it therefore ill continue. ”

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

“u had been one horny mofo. ”

A grownup monitor handed her a violation that is dress-code her dress ended up being too brief – despite the fact that all of the girls in her own class dressed this way and monitors seldom objected. She cut exactly exactly just what classes she could, blowing down chemistry for 2 times in a line, hoping 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 was in fact, literally, the greatest individual you can satisfy – 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 had been hard for her to know that from an in depth friend free sex cam. ” She recalls the words that are last thought to Audrie. “You need certainly to return to reality, ” Kathy shared with her.


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

Whenever Sheila pulled up inside her vehicle later that Monday afternoon on September tenth, 2012, Audrie jumped in but stayed quiet regarding the quick drive house. Sheila ended up being familiar with her 15-year-old daughter’s emotions and stopped pushing her. Once they surely got to their ranch-style home, where that they had been residing alone together since Sheila had split together with her boyfriend the entire year before, Audrie retreated to her bed room, featuring its Audrey Hepburn poster and silk-upholstered screen chair. Around 20 mins passed away before Sheila made a decision to check into her daughter. She stepped over the kitchen area and down the long carpeted hallway to your bathroom home adjoining Audrie’s space. The entranceway had been locked. Audrie did answer that is n’t. Sheila knocked and knocked once again. One thing about the silence forced a panic switch inside her. She grabbed the initial thing she 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 home available, she confronted a sight now completely etched inside her memory. Within the pale-peach restroom, featuring its shell-shaped sink, gold fixtures and slim tub, her only kid was hanging from a gear connected to the bath head, mascara streaking her face.

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

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

S aratoga senior high school, along with its country-club-worthy­quad, Olympic-size swimming pool and plush tennis courts, is regarded as those affluent Ca schools US teens recognize from films and television. Found in the heart of Silicon Valley, the 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 didn’t frequently field a winning soccer group, there’s consolation into the proven fact that each graduating class has propelled lots of young ones into Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Berkeley.

Summer time before her death, Audrie had began to alter, getting off the kids she’d hung out with since center college. She had began to take in a small and had dated a somewhat older guy. Whenever she drank, the self-consciousness which had afflicted her since junior high melted away. She loosened up. Often, she loosened up a great deal.

On work Day week-end regarding the brand new college 12 months, Audrie’s friend, let’s call her “Sara” (lots of the children’ names in this tale have now been changed to guard 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 had been checking out a fresh world of men, containers and tiny events, ideally at parent-free homes, that the Saratoga children call “kickbacks. ”

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

Fundamentally, 11 young ones turned up, most of them to sip vodka and Gatorade cocktails. All of them belonged for their class’s popular clique, girls dressed as provocatively as you possibly can, also because of the free standards of Ca high schools. “See-through shorts and thongs pulled up, shorts pulled down, ” recalls an adult woman. “That’s just just what the ‘cool girls’ wore. ” The males they hung away with preferred a uniform locally dubbed “swagfag” – snapback hat, PacSun tank tops, knee-length chino shorts and Vans.

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

When Audrie’s old middle-school friends, Kathy, Amanda Le and another girl, appeared around 9 p.m., there is no music, simply the noise of sloppy-drunk talk. Audrie had been stumbling and incoherent, taking shots and making down with various men in the living-room settee. Her buddies 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 had been taking place, and so they didn’t understand what these were doing. ”

Sara seemed so trashed whenever she greeted them in the home that Kathy doesn’t even think her classmate respected her. “There ended up being stuff all around the tables, ” Kathy says. “Superdirty. That they had food and a bunch that is whole of every where. Individuals falling over, walking on. Sooner or later, I became like, we are only sitting right here. ‘ Personally I think superuncomfortable, everyone’s so trashed and’ therefore we left. ”