My Daughter Rehtaeh Parsons
Winner, George Borden Writing for Change Award
One of Indigo's Best Books of 2021 So Far
Rehtaeh Parsons was a gifted teenager with boundless curiosity and a love for family, science, and the natural world. But her life was derailed when she went to a friend’s house for a sleepover and the two of them dropped by at a neighbour’s house, where a group of boys were having a party.
The next day, one of the boys circulated a photo on social media: it showed Rehtaeh half naked, with a boy up against her. She had no recollection of what had happened. For 17 months, Rehtaeh was shamed from one school to the next. Bullied by her peers, she was scorned by their parents and her community. No charges were laid by the RCMP.
In comfortable, suburban Nova Scotia, Rehtaeh spiralled into depression. Failed by her school, the police, and the mental health system, Rehtaeh attempted suicide on April 4, 2013. She died three days later.
But her story didn’t die with her. Rehtaeh’s death shone a searing light on attitudes toward issues of consent and sexual assault. It also led to legislation on cyberbullying, a review of mental health services for teens, and an overhaul of how Canadian schools deal with cyber exploitation.
My Daughter Rehtaeh Parsons offers an unsparing look at Rehtaeh’s story, the social forces that enable and perpetuate violence and misogyny among teenagers, and parental love in the midst of horrendous loss.
This book is heartbreaking. I’m so grateful to Glen for telling it and sharing his daughters story with the world. And telling his own story was also heartbreaking. I hope he has some peace now that he has worked through his therapy. The pain of losing a child will never leave him but he deserves a bit of peace. Amazing that he and Leah, Rehtaeh’s mom, fought so hard and got actual Canadian legislation changed on the way police handle sexual assault cases, training involved for handling them, handling of minors, as well as cyber bullying legislation changes. Great work!!