Rehtaeh Parsons later died by suicide after receiving no help from the concerned authorities
Trigger Warning: The story has details of gang rape and death by suicide that some readers will find disturbing
Canadian teen, Rehtaeh Parsons was like any other ordinary 17-year-old. But her life would soon be turned upside down and never the same again after a horrifying incident in November 2011. While at a house party at a friend's, she was gang-raped by four boys. To make matter's worse, neither her school nor the police came to her aid. In an appalling move, one of her rapists took a picture of her during the criminal act and shared it with her schoolmates. The next two years were a roller coaster ride for the Nova Scotia resident with Parsons being shamed and bullied. She suffered a mental breakdown and tragically took her own life. But her case has since led to widespread anger and outrage throughout the world and has been used as an example of what rape victims have to go through.
In what can be considered as too little too late, following her death, some arrests were made. "Because the boys already had a "s*ut" story, the victim of the rape Rehtaeh was considered a S*UT...Rehtaeh was suddenly shunned by almost everyone she knew, the harassment was so bad she had to move out of her own community to try to start anew in Halifax. She struggled emotionally with depression and anger.." read a Facebook page that was started in her memory. Thoughts of suicide often crept into Parsons and she tried getting help. But people in the community were ruthless. "The bullying continued, her friends were not supportive," it read. But some came forward to help: "She needed a friend and eventually along the way a few new friends came along and a few old friends came forward."
The role of the police also needs to be questioned who took a year to conduct an investigation and eventually said they could not press charges. The page added, "She was the victim being victimized over and over again. One year later the police conclude their investigation to state that it comes down to “he said, she said.” According to Rehteah Parsons Society, a non-profit page started in her memory: "The males were never interviewed. It took an entire year to close the case and inform us that no charges would be laid." About the pathetic actions of the school, it noted, "The school did not try to protect her or 'manage' the photo distribution..." The rape and intense bullying took away Parsons' spirit. "Rehtaeh was crushed and felt that no one believed her," read the non-profit page.
It added, "The photo was still out there and the once determined girl that I knew and loved – full of dreams and aspirations to make this world a better place was left in torment, anger and hurt. Rehtaeh quickly went from a confident girl who had a strong sense of self to a very depressed, anxious girl who found it difficult to function on a daily basis. She had never had mental health issues before this incident but she sure did afterwards."
However, it was the inaction and gross apathy of the authorities who were supposed to protect her that eventually led Parsons to take her own life. As Parsons father wrote: "My daughter wasn’t bullied to death, she was disappointed to death. Disappointed in people she thought she could trust, her school, and the police."
It appeared that Parsons had made attempts to move on as she "she had a great day, made plans for the weekend" on April 4. But by the evening, her mood changed. Parsons "had an outburst, acted on that impulse and locked herself in the bathroom." She then died by suicide. "By the time I broke into the bathroom it was too late. My beautiful girl had hung herself and was rushed to the hospital after the paramedics worked on her for 45 min to get a heartbeat back. She remained on life support until last night."
As of now, only two of the alleged rapists involved in the crime were arrested.