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About Brianna

The Bri Story

Brianna Ann Dorgan (Bri) was born Tuesday, March 8, 2005 to Matthew (Matt) and April Dorgan. Bri was always in a hurry, so she didn't wait for the doctor to get there. As the nurse called for the doctor, April pushed and Matt caught Bri in his arms.

While Bri clung tightly to her mom, she was a daddy's girl from the time she was born and had daddy wrapped around her little finger. She seemed like the happiest go luckiest kid in the world. When they went on vacations, Bri was always the one to go out and make new friends. In fact, one friend she made, while they were vacationing in Myrtle Beach, became a long term friend in a friendship that lasted well into Bri's teen years. She was always smiling and looking to brighten up the day for someone else.

When Bri was 6 years old, Matt and April separated. April moved to North Carolina taking Bri and her younger brother John with her. Matt only had limited visitation during the year because of his work schedule in law enforcement. Since he only had one weekend off a month, he would spend time with Bri during that weekend then have her for the majority of the summer.

One day, while he was speaking at a conference, Bri called Matt out of the blue. Bri never did that when he was working, so he knew the call must be important. He and Bri spoke for a while and Bri asked him if she could move in with him permanently. Of course, he agreed, so Bri moved in with her dad when she was in the 7th grade.

About a year later, Matt came home to find an electric cord hanging from the ceiling in the garage. He went in to check on her and Bri told him she didn't want to live any more. He took her to crisis and it was then that Bri opened up about being molested, and that she had been cutting herself.

Between when she was six years old until she was nine she had been molested by a family member. She tried to tell other family members about it, but they didn't believe her. She didn't try to tell her dad because no one else believed her and she just assumed he wouldn't either. This is frequently the case when a child tries to report abuse. The report is met with disbelief, or blame is placed on the victim, or both. Eventually they just give up trying to tell anyone they need help. They kept telling her to stop lying about being molested until finally, years later, the family member was caught in the act with her.

Matt contacted law enforcement. It was investigated locally, then sent to the jurisdiction where the perpetrator lived. Sadly, the investigation was slow enough the perpetrator turned eighteen and they refused to prosecute him because they would be prosecuting an adult for his actions as a minor. So absolutely nothing came from the investigation. Bri would say the molestation was traumatic enough, but the worse trauma came from not being believed, being called a liar, and putting the blame on her by the people who were supposed to protect her.

In the years that followed her first attempt at suicide, Bri was in outpatient intensive therapy, inpatient therapy, and non hospital based therapy. She was also on medication for depression and anxiety. When Bri realized Matt believed her and listened to her, she started telling him everything. They became very close. Brianna used to leave Matt notes saying things like, "I love you dad. Thanks for always being there for me." When she was around others, Bri hid her emotions so they would not have to carry her burdens with them. Bri's friends saw her as being upbeat and happy. They enjoyed spending time with her and knew that she would be there for them, even in their darkest times. Even in her darkest moments, Bri was focused on making others feel better. Often, Bri and Matt would go to the grocery store. He would turn to look at her for something and find that she had disappeared. He would go look for her and finally find she was helping someone reach something, or helping someone bag something, or helping someone across the street. It is just who she was.

Bri's favorite foods were bacon and pizza. One time Matt heard the kids playing upstairs. One minute they would be very quiet, then the next he would hear them running back and forth. He knew they were up to something so he went up to check on them. Bri had bacon and cookies stashed in the play microwave oven of her kitchen play set. So the kids would run to the playset and get something to eat and run back. Another time her grandmother and a neighbor commented on her purse. When they asked what was in her purse, she got quiet and looked away which was unusual for her. Later, Matt, curious to know what she was up to, checked her purse to see what she was hiding and found it was stuffed full with bacon.

Bri loved to cook. One time, she had a friend over, Matt was in his office which was right across the hall from the kitchen. Bri and her friend decided they were hungry so Bri decided to cook her favorite food, Pizza. Note, while her favorite foods were both bacon and pizza, she never had bacon on her pizza. She just didn't like them together. A short time later, Matt heard crash boom crash. That was followed by a call from Bri for help. He told her he would be there in a minute. She called back that she needed him NOW! When he got there he saw the source of the crashing and banging. He found a supreme pizza upside down in the oven with the cookie sheet on top. He tried in vain to get it picked up but with each movement more toppings fell off all over the oven. From that point on, anytime they talked about cooking a frozen pizza he would jokingly tell her that maybe he should be the one to put it in and take it out of the oven. It was an inside joke that only the two of them really understood.

Bri loved her brothers John and Zach. She loved art and enjoyed drawing and sketching. She loved all animals and wanted to have a zoo some day. She was especially close to her dogs Lucky, Mila, and puppy Emma. She had just gotten Emma before Thanksgiving, 2020. She wanted an emotional support dog. Matt tried to make that happen, but her doctors and therapists were not certified in therapy with emotional support animals, so it didn't happen. Instead, Matt got her puppy Emma.

Then, on Thursday, December 3, 2020, at fifteen years old, Brianna tragically took her own life. Matt and John were in the house at the time. They heard the noise but didn't know what it was until they checked it out. Bri gave no indication of what she was going to do. That morning, she was upbeat and interacting with them the way she normally would.

Brianna's story is not unique. There are countless children and teens who are dealing with the trauma of child abuse or other traumas that are just as insidious. Before the start of the pandemic 60% of all teens had engaged in self harm - 50% of all teens had engaged in self harm on a continuing basis. This problem has only gotten worse since the start of the pandemic. Matt, is committed to working to end this nightmare that is shared by too many children and teens in our society.

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