Dartmouth mother speaks out after her bullied daughter takes own life

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Leah Parsons recounts the story of her daughter Rehtaeh's cyber-bulling that she feels lead to her eventual suicide.

Hayley Ryan

Metro News

Sitting on the couch in her living room, Leah Parsons gathered a blanket around her legs and looked around at the photos of her daughter lining the walls.

“Rehtaeh’s everywhere here,” Parsons said with a sad smile.

Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, died in hospital Sunday, several days after hanging herself following years of bullying and victimization stemming from a fall night in 2011 when her mother says she was  raped by four boys.

“She was a very busy, headstrong girl,” Parsons said in the Cole Harbour home she shares with her partner, Jason, and where Rehtaeh grew up.

In her younger years, Parsons said Rehtaeh was a straight-A student who couldn’t get enough of books and learning and wanted to be a marine activist.

On that November night two years ago, Parsons said Rehtaeh had been at a friend’s house when the assault occurred. She remembers being told by her daughter that she was led upstairs by one of the boys, but not much else, until she heard the click of a photo being taken.

A few days later, one of the boys sent out the photo via text, and when Rehtaeh walked into the Cole Harbour High School everyone started calling her a “slut.”

“She never could go back to that school again,” Parsons said. “Her friends turned against her.”

Parsons said for months she couldn’t go anywhere without people calling her names or texting horrible things, because they believed the story her attackers had spread around the school.

They reported the sexual assault to police, but charges were never laid and the investigation took about a year to complete, which Parsons said was very frustrating.

“It could have been handled a lot differently,” Parsons said.

She said she is speaking out now because it’s important that people realize how much bullying hurts someone, and to just share Rehtaeh’s side of the story.

“Don’t jump on the victim, help the victim,” Parsons said. “How cruel is the world to do that?”

Organizations: Metro News, Cole Harbour High School

Geographic location: Dartmouth

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Recent comments

  • Dave
    April 10, 2013 - 17:30

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Rehtaeh.

  • ash
    April 10, 2013 - 11:45

    Very sad to hear this, But Parents should guide teenage girls not to drink and party alone because lots of predators around and they are looking for this kind of moment and can do havoc to these teen age girls, Not every one has fear of God in their heart. So sad.

    • Me
      April 12, 2013 - 01:09

      Pardon me? So, it's apparently the girl's fault that some jerkasses decided to do that to her? No, it's the perpetrator's fault, not hers. It doesn't matter whether she was drinking or at a party. It shouldn't have happened.

  • ange
    April 09, 2013 - 20:59

    When are people going to wake up and realize that words can destroy lives? How many more kids have to die before it stops?

  • margie
    April 09, 2013 - 20:38

    I know this lady as she is part of one of the animal rescue groups I am part of.. She is such a wonderful person and to see her go through this is so tragic. This should NEVER have happened to this beautiful young lady. Its time the community, schools, medical profession, police etc do more than just talk about bullying. Nova Scotia should be ashamed of themselves, this story is an embarrassment to the people of this province. I know what its like to have someone bully you, its not nice and no you don't just get over it neither do you just get over being raped. GOD REST HER SOUL and i hope the family knows that there are many of us who stand strong with Leah and her family during this difficult time. Its time to stand up and be heard before someone elses daughter or son goes through this. Rest in Peach Ray of Light. My arms are wrapped around Leah and her family during this most difficult time.

  • a parent
    April 09, 2013 - 18:40

    This is terribly disturbing, Parents-talk to your kids about cyberbullying. Kids- take responsible action. Such a sad story.

  • Toby
    April 09, 2013 - 15:58

    My heart goes out to the family. If the assault occurred when the girl was a minor it is my understanding that it is statutory rape whetherr or not any consent may or may not have been present. Again I guess the law is enforced according to the wish fo the police.