Rehtaeh Parsons is being remembered as a light-hearted girl and dedicated student who was devastated by a brutal gang rape and subsequent online bullying.
Scarred from the incident in 2011, Rehtaeh hanged herself in a bathroom on Thursday. After three days in the hospital her parents took her off life support, and the 17-year-old Canadian girl died.
Rehtaeh Parsons changed dramatically from the incident 17 months ago, her mother wrote on a Facebook memorial page.
“She went with a friend to another’s home. In that home, she was raped by four young boys,” wrote Leah Parsons. “One of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh’s school and community, where it quickly went viral.”
The gang rape left then 15-year-old Rehtaeh an outcast at Cole Harbour District High School. The alleged rapists also went to the school, and Rehtaeh could no longer face the students and their online bullying.
“She was never left alone. She had to leave the community. Her friends turned against her. People harassed her. Boys she didn’t know started texting her and Facebooking her asking her to have sex with them. It just never stopped,” her mother told CBC.
Her parents decided to move from Cole Harbour to Halifax to escape the bullying. Things seemed to turn around after that. Rehtaeh made new friends, and got support from some of her old friends on Cole Harbour.
Her suicide last week was likely the result of a mood swing, her mother said.
“She acted on an impulse, but I truly, in my heart of heart, do not feel she meant to kill herself,” her mother wrote on Facebook. “By the time I broke into the bathroom, it was too late.”
Parsons said she wants other people to learn a lesson from her daughter’s gang rape. Rehtaeh Parsons was scarred by the incident, but social media allowed her to be continually violated, her mother said.
“People texted her all the time, saying ‘Will you have sex with me?’ ” she remembered. “Girls texting, saying ‘You’re such a slut.’ “
RCMP offiicals investigated the gang rape of Rehtaeh Parsons but said there was insufficient evidence to bring up charges.