Rape survivor who appeared in Netflix documentary dead by suicide
Written by kslmadmin on August 5, 2020
Her mother announced her death Tuesday night on social media, and the SafeBAE foundation, which she co-founded, also issued a statement on social media.
“My daughter Catherine Daisy Coleman committed suicide tonight,” Melinda Coleman wrote in a Facebook post. “If you saw crazy…messages and posts it was because I called the police to check on her.”
When she was 14 in January 2012, the younger Coleman said she was sexually assaulted by her older brother’s friend in Maryville, Mo., then left outside in below-freezing temperatures for hours.
Her assailant was never convicted of felony sexual assault. In 2014, Matthew Barnett pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor child endangerment and avoided a jail sentence, the Associated Press reported at the time.
“I am ready to move forward,” Coleman, then 16, said in a statement after the plea. “To all those who supported me, I promise that what happened on Jan. 8, 2012, will not define me forever.”
But she was bullied in school and on social media, and attempted suicide multiple times.
The Netflix documentary details how Coleman’s family was outcast and ostracized by the community after the incident. Her house was burned down, according to SafeBAE, the nonprofit she helped co-found.
“You already have this wound just ripped clean open, and you’re vulnerable, and you’re going through a really hard time,” Coleman says in the documentary. “And to have all these people attacking you on top of it, it almost makes the bullying seem more extreme.”
“We are shattered and shocked by her passing from suicide,” reads a post on the foundation’s Facebook page. “She had many coping demons and had been facing and overcoming them all, but as many of you know, healing is not a straight path or any easy one. She fought longer and harder than we will ever know. But we want to be mindful of all the young survivors who looked up to her. Please know that above ALL ELSE, she did this work for you. She loved talking to young people about changing the culture and taking care of one another.”
Audrie Pott, another subject of the same documentary, was sexually assaulted in California in September 2012. She died by suicide 10 days later.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline takes calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The number is 1-800-273-8255.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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