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

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Sexting Shame & Suicide

Illustration by Jesse Lenz

O n the day that is last of life, Audrie Pott strolled through a crucible of teenage torment. A curvaceous sophomore at Saratoga highschool, dressed up in the cool-girl’s uniform of a low-cut top and supershort dress, she seemed just like constantly, but inside she ended up being quivering with humiliation. Into the week since college had started, girls was indeed providing her appearance, and guys 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 about any of it so ill keep it to myself haha…. ”

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

“u had been one horny mofo. ”

A grown-up monitor handed her a dress-code breach – her dress ended up being too short – despite the fact that most of the girls in her own class dressed this way and monitors seldom objected. She cut exactly exactly what classes she could, blowing off chemistry for just two times in a line, hoping in order to avoid confrontations with disapproving girlfriends. Then Kathy Atabakhsh, one of her close friends, tore into her in the college quad, accusing her of ingesting, of forgetting who she ended up being, to become someone else. “She was in fact, literally, the very best individual you might 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 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 get back to truth, ” Kathy informed her.


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At lunchtime, Audrie texted her mother at the job: “Mom, please choose me up. ” Sheila Pott, a mortgage-loan officer, asked why and whether Audrie couldn’t await her in order to complete a small business meeting. Audrie was insistent, after which stopped responding to texts.

Whenever Sheila pulled up inside her automobile later that Monday afternoon on September tenth, 2012, Audrie jumped in but stayed quiet from the drive home that is short. Sheila had been accustomed her 15-year-old daughter’s emotions and stopped pushing her. They had been living alone together since Sheila had split with her boyfriend the year before, Audrie retreated to her bedroom, with its Audrey Hepburn poster and silk-upholstered window seat when they got to their ranch-style home, where. Around 20 mins passed away before Sheila made a decision to check up on her daughter. She moved throughout the home and down the long carpeted hallway towards the restroom home Audrie’s that is adjoining space. The entranceway had been locked. Audrie didn’t response. Sheila knocked and knocked once again. One thing about the silence forced a camonster com panic switch inside her. She grabbed the initial thing she can find to jimmy the lock – the tiny steel pole at the conclusion of her phone’s earplug – and jammed it to the doorknob. Flinging the hinged home available, she confronted a sight now permanently etched in her own memory. Into the pale-peach restroom, using its shell-shaped sink, gold fixtures and narrow tub, her only youngster had been 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 cut her daughter down, attempting to keep in mind how exactly to perform CPR while dialing 911. Paramedics arrived in just a couple of minutes. They restarted Audrie’s heart, however it was far too late. The brown-eyed woman whom enjoyed horses, art and pranks would not inhale on her own again.

There clearly was no note, absolutely nothing to explain why her popular and pretty daughter had done it. Into the medical center, Sheila started retracing current occasions, hunting for some clue about what could have pressed her child to just simply take her very own life. She seriously considered Audrie’s silence that is strange your day after a sleepover the weekend before. And she remembered the green ink she’d noticed around her daughter’s cleavage, weird 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 certainly one of those affluent Ca schools US teens recognize from films and television. Found in the heart of Silicon Valley, the educational college houses high-achieving kiddies of moms and dads working at Apple, e-bay, Netflix along with other tech corporations headquartered within 50 kilometers. In the event that Saratoga Falcons didn’t regularly field a fantastic 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 started initially to alter, leaving the kids she’d hung out with since center college. She had began to take in a had and little 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 for the school that is new, Audrie’s friend, let’s call her “Sara” (lots of the young ones’ names in this tale have already been changed to safeguard their identities), stated her moms and dads had been away, making 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 brand new world of males, containers and little 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 resting 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 inside their jammies while watching television, or giggling over ice cream and Facebook. But Sara had currently texted around a dozen buddies to drop set for her kickback.

Ultimately, 11 kids turned up, many to sip vodka and Gatorade cocktails. All of them belonged with their class’s popular clique, girls dressed as provocatively as you are able to, also by the free requirements of Ca high schools. “See-through shorts and thongs pulled up, shorts pulled down, ” recalls a mature woman. “That’s just just what the ‘cool girls’ wore. ” The guys 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 grownup at a alcohol shop. They sooner or later guzzled a container of tequila that Sara’s moms and dads kept in their own personal case. The mixer of preference ended up being Gatorade, or downed right. Audrie drank most difficult of most.

When Audrie’s old friends that are middle-school Kathy, Amanda Le and another girl, appeared around 9 p.m., there clearly was no music, just the noise of sloppy-drunk talk. Audrie had been stumbling and incoherent, taking shots and making down with various males in the living-room settee. Her buddies were appalled. “I never ever saw, I’d simply found out about times she had gotten drunk, ” says Kathy. “She was so unique of the way I knew her become. We noticed exactly what ended up being happening, and additionally they didn’t know very well what these people were doing. Because we had been sober, ”

Sara seemed so trashed whenever she greeted them during 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. Individuals falling over, walking on. Sooner or later, I happened to be like, we are simply sitting right here. ‘ I’m superuncomfortable, everyone’s so trashed and’ So we left. ”