***CONTENT WARNING: The following stories contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors. Following this collection, a list of resources has been published. Please do not hesitate to contact any of these resources if you find yourself struggling.***
The following stories were collected to demonstrate the extent to which sexualized violence is an issue #HereToo. One in four women will experience sexualized violence in their lifetime - but it isn’t just a statistic. It isn’t just something we read about in the news, or hear about on TV - it is a real, far too prevalent issue on this campus and many others. Thank you to everyone who was able to find the courage to share these stories with us.
As someone who has been sexually assaulted– I believe that institutions, students, faculty, and community members should work towards creating a more informed policy so that victims of sexual violence can feel more secure about coming forward.
A student who was taken advantage of last year who did, in fact, come forward was let down by her OWN university. StFX did not inform her that her rapist’s suspension was lifted and that he was to be returning back to campus for the new school year. She felt unsafe, as would anyone. She left this province–– she left this campus–– she returned back home. The university took away her voice. The school failed to protect her because he, a student who decided to take advantage of another, has the RIGHT to his education.
The school failed to protect ALL students because we still do NOT have a name, ID picture or a clue who this sexual predator is.
StFX… did you not think that having that student back on campus wouldn’t trigger the girl who went through something no one deserves? Do you think the rapist is more entitled to his education here at StFX than the victim? Do you think he won’t do it again just because he’s “learned from his mistake?” I can honestly tell you that this is and will never get easier for the victims. I used to be proud of this university but your actions towards this makes me nothing but disappointed and full of anger.
It only takes one individual to force themselves onto another. It only takes one pill and a blink of an eye to drug someone. It only takes one individual to rape more than one student. Many students have come forward but due to putting the blame on the victim, hearing out the sexual predator and favouring in their favour or the lack of evidence they were turned away.
THIS. IS. WHY. WE. DON’T. COME. FORWARD. #IBelieveYou #IStandWithYou #IAmHer
A common story that I hear around campus is women speaking about being sexually assaulted on campus and not reporting it. Why? When someone is a victim of crime, wouldn’t the logical progression be to seek justice? I can’t speak for everyone, but I am a survivor. Last year, during my very first week on campus I was raped in my own room in residence. I don’t really have any desire to relive this experience, even in print. I decided to not report my assault for a few reasons. The first being that I had no idea how it would be done. Throughout orientation week I was never clearly told how to report or what the difference was between reporting and disclosing. There was a lack of clear education and information. It seemed to be hidden by discourse about the policy and the progress that the university was making. On top of that, I was terrified about how a report and investigation would influence my education. I was so excited to finally be at university and I knew the sacrifice my parents have had to make to send me to StFX. I did not want to go through a process that I had already heard, one week into my time here, was not supportive of survivors and seriously detrimental to survivors’ right to education. I can only say that I felt sheer terror at the thought of the university administration and going through the reporting process. This university’s administration has done nothing to date to demonstrate to me that they would protect and support me. There is no evidence that there is any compassion for the trauma survivors that go through at the upper levels of this administration as evident by their actions over the last weeks and their response to criticism in emails that were tone deaf and disappointing. This administration has to demonstrate that it is dedicated to providing safe spaces for survivors. Improvement of the sexual violence policy is necessary, but also improvement in the education of the administration about how to support them during and after their interaction with the university justice system and show this community their dedication to real action. The administration has a responsibility to keep members of this community safe. They continue to fail. For all the people on this campus who are survivors and all those who could become survivors because of this administration's inaction: wake up and face this issue with real preventative action. I am ashamed of this university. I want to be able to be proud of my X-Ring, not embarrassed for wearing a symbol associated with a school that doesn’t support survivors.
In my first year at StFX, I was invited back to a guy’s house to hang out. We spent time talking and decided to smoke together. During this time, I was laced and immediately began to lose control of my body. He quickly found a way to isolate me from the others in the house. I had never been so scared before. I couldn’t form sentences, I couldn’t feel my body, and I started to feel confused about where I was and who I was with. He began to move closer to me and touch my body. I was so shocked that I couldn’t move and wasn’t even able to form the word ‘no’ in my mind. Due to the events that took place that night, I have developed anxiety in social situations and around other males. I am constantly worried about going out, running into him, being laced again, or coming anywhere close to an experience like this one. I have never shared this story and the only reason I will now is because I have never felt comfortable to come forward due to the lack of support at StFX. StFX does NOT value my safety over the safety of their reputation and image. The lack of efforts to end sexualized violence on campus are sickening. After the media attention StFX has received this month, I know that I am not safe on this campus. I know that I will never be safe on this campus. More horrifically, I know that I can’t trust StFX to protect me and my body.
I'm a Part-Time Instructor at StFX. Some time ago, at a reception, a faculty member asked me about my racial background. Not really knowing what to do, I answered candidly. The faculty member then said that those of my race and skin tone were “the better looking ones.” They then offered some of the reception food to me, by dangling it over my head and beckoning me to eat. I felt completely humiliated and powerless. The room was also filled with other faculty members and students. It's not possible for me to report anything like this (or anything worse), because I would lose anonymity through the process, and this could endanger my job. In my case, it would be as simple as not being offered another contract.
My first year on campus, I became involved with a guy who was in four of my classes. We were in no way shape or form exclusive, and my interest in him was more or less platonic. One night when we were hanging out, he brought me to his room and started trying to kiss me. At first I tried to pull away, but he was unrelenting, so I gave in, although I didn’t want to. As I had previously been sexually assaulted numerous times, I felt that I was powerless to stop things. He tried to take my pants off, and when I said no he shoved his hand down them anyways. He then vigorously attempted to finger me. The action was causing me pain, as I was not aroused and did not want this to occur. I told him to stop, and that he was hurting me, but he would not listen. Although things didn’t end up going any farther on that evening, I walked back to my residence after the fact with tears streaming down my face and blood trickling down my thighs. Having previously been in a sexually abusive relationship, I did not know at the time that this was wrong, and thought that I was in the wrong for feeling the way that I did about the situation. I thought that this was the way that sex happened, and I had always felt that it was my fault that I was feeling that way and wondered what was wrong with me. Sexual assault is rampant on the StFX campus, and sometimes when these things occur we may not believe that anyone else feels that way and believe that we are alone. To anyone on this campus who has experienced sexualized violence, I believe you. I am here for you. And I support you.
“Do you want to go upstairs?” He asked while we danced in the basement of MacPherson. I went to MacPherson consistently, most of my friends were from there. And in my drunken state, I said yes.
We go upstairs where I met his roommate. We spoke for a little while and then he left the room. Now it was just me and him. “Drink this.” He gave me a drink, I don't remember what it was. “Do you want to smoke?” He let me have some of his vape. I don't know what was in it. I remember coughing.
We spoke for a little while. Then he started kissing me. We kissed and it was fun. Then he started taking my clothes off as he pushed me down. I asked if we could slow down because I didn't know him. “We're not strangers. We spoke for a little while.” He said as he kept undressing me. I was falling in and out of consciousness. I don't remember exactly when he entered me. But I remember the laughter of my friend and the look on his face when I looked towards the door and saw him. “Close the door!” He shouted and my friend left. I remember their laughter even after the door closed.
In and out of consciousness. I remember my legs above his head, limp. The pain of him ripping inside of me.
I don't know when he finished, but I remember laying on my side, exhausted, naked, tired. “Do you want me to walk you back to your residence?” I said yes.
So I got dressed and walked out with him. Halfway back to residence, I saw a friend. I ran to him and hugged him, began to cry, “I want to go home.”
The next day my friend laughed at me and informed me of what he saw in the room. “You were so drunk,” he laughed. I nodded and tried not to let it bother me. It took me months to realize he should've stopped what happened. I don't know who I'm angry at or if I'm angry at all. I'm not friends with him anymore. He doesn't understand why. Sometimes he's offended I don't talk to him anymore. Maybe he doesn't even realize what happened that night. I didn't for a long time.
But I don't hang out in MacPherson anymore.
Why I didn’t report: because he was my boyfriend. Because I felt like I owed it to him. Because I was “his property.” Because I thought that that was normal. Because I didn’t know any better.
It was my first year. I had been casually hooking up with a friend from my residence building. One night after drinking heavily I went up to his room to see him. His roommate answered the door and told me my friend wasn’t there. I found out later that he had been lying, my friend was sleeping just behind the door. I stumbled back to my room and got into bed. Shortly after, the roommate came down into my room and got into bed with me. My roommate was away for the night and I had forgotten to lock my door. He started kissing me forcefully, while I attempted to turn away and push him off. Once he pulled out his penis I vocalized my objections. I told him “no I don’t want this,” but he persisted in having me touch him. Finally, once my objections grew to be too much, he left for the bathroom. I quickly locked my door behind him. I felt scared that night and many nights after that. I didn’t tell any administration or my RA since I thought they wouldn’t be able to do anything for me. I continued to see him (and still do) regularly in residence, meal hall, and throughout campus. Each time my heart would pound, my stomach would tighten, and I would flinch if he approached me. It has exacerbated my depression and made me afraid in my own home, this is why #IStandWithHer.
I was overwhelmed with excitement to attend StFX. Throughout my academic career, I was constantly recognized for my performance and grade point average. I grew up being the smartest in my class, I just always knew that I’d thrive in University as it was supposed to be the best days of my life. However, that was not the case. During my first week at StFX, a Resident Assistant (someone who was supposed to be there to help frosh like myself and be someone I could go to for any questions or help) sexually assaulted me. I plead out repeatedly to stop but he wouldn’t. The second I finally got away, I was in shock and had this need that I had to tell someone immediately. I ended up finding StFX officials to report it to and they then informed the campus. However, nothing was done. They did not reach out to me after that night. He remained in a position of power and did not receive any repercussions. I was devastated and it made me feel like I wasn’t important at all. He didn’t care what he did to my body, and the school sure didn’t care either. I ended up blaming myself. I couldn’t help but think if I were more attractive, maybe he wouldn’t have done that to me. Or maybe if I were more intelligent, or kind or anything more than what I currently was. He made me feel like I was nothing, the university enforced this feeling by not doing anything about it. I felt worthless, I felt gross, I felt like I should die. Every time I would see him around campus, I’d end up in pure panic and would stop whatever I was doing to run to my dorm and lock myself away. There were so many nights that I’d spend crying in the shower attempting to wash off the filth he made me feel like I was. Needless to say, my grades slipped as I not only lived in constant fear but lived in a place that wasn’t safe as nobody cared about my safety. I attempted to go back to school the following year with ambition to succeed as it’s who I am, but it was completely impossible. The moment I would see my abuser walking around in a place that protected him so well, I’d instantly want to curl up in a ball and just cry. I ended up dropping out of StFX as they made me feel like I was worthless with their lack of concern and failure to help.
I am nineteen years old and am currently attending University of New Brunswick in hopes to receive a degree in Mathematics. I am an independent woman, who has struggled immensely with Mental Health but never strength. I have overcome many obstacles that my life has thrown at me. I have been knocked down numerous times just to stand back up and be pushed back down again. But I always found the strength to move on. However, a little less than a year ago I was raped by a student currently attending StFX. Having this happen opened my eyes to our society, our justice system and the university atmosphere which is supposed to be a safe place for students. This man was never charged, even after the horrendous nightmare of my rape kit and having a witness and presenting my story to two separate police officers, and then was and released back to campus. Although I do not attend this school, it haunts me every single day. Seeing the story of a young girl who was also raped by someone attending that school, not only threw me into an anxiety attack, I felt out of control of the things that people can do to my body. I have suffered from extreme nightmares, depression and panic attacks because of my rapist. I can’t wear certain clothes, go to certain places or even find the motivation to make myself presentable half the time. I am sharing my story to not only raise awareness of sexual violence, I am writing it in hopes he will see this. So this is for you: today I speak to you on behalf of myself and how you have affected my life in hopes to help another person moving forward. First and foremost, I would like to start off by saying you took something from me. I’m putting the assault aside and speaking psychologically here. Physically, days after the assault happened I was ok. I was sore, shaken up, but physically I was ok and I knew I could heal... physically. Mentally, I never think I will wake up from that nightmare. I had already been suffering from mental illness as mentioned before, but being raped, having intercourse with someone you don’t want to, emotionally destroyed my confidence, my grades, my sleep and my relations with any guys for the future or even relationships with friends. How am I supposed to get close to the opposite sex again, without bringing up what happened to me? I can’t be touched certain ways, I can’t be looked at certain ways, I can’t read certain things, watch specific movies, or even sometimes take a good look at reality. I want you to know, that I am one of the strongest people I know and I’m proud to say that, but you made me feel weak. Not only did you give me a memory that will haunt me for life, you gave that same memory to my parents, my sister and my closest friends. I act weird sometimes, I do things I don’t normally do and people question me. How do I properly tell them why I am the way I am? If there’s anything you take from this, if you even listened or cared, I want you to know: no matter what happens today, tomorrow, or in the future, you will always be guilty in my eyes. No apology, no handwritten letter, nothing can take back what you did to me, what you took from me psychologically. I pray for any girl who walks in your path again, I wish I could protect them, but now I question if I can even protect myself.
The stigma of girls acting in a way that would make guys want to have sex with them, what they wear, how they talk, what they’re doing with their life, that stops here. Because I am here to tell you I will move on with my life, I will finish my university degree in mathematics, I will someday marry a man who treats me with nothing but respect and in the far future raise my kids to do the same. I am disgusted with you, and I will never under any circumstances forgive you. I will always blame you and always remember you until the day I die. Please, never do this to someone again, I beg you. Rape psychologically hurts a human and is EQUALLY as painful as a physical wound.
It has been a long road, the reporting process of sexual assault through the school. At the beginning the misconduct office will give you options and tell you the school has a system in place to believe the survivor. It’s so comforting to hear this from the school, to know that they’re going to try their best to have your back. Maybe you’re not quite comfortable going through with the full reporting process yet. So you start with just writing a statement to put into words what happened to you, and that’s enough for now. The school tells you if he has a second offence you’ll be notified and you can reconsider sending in your statement then. Maybe in a little bit you start to feel that itch in the back of your brain, something you can’t ignore. So you ask the school, what next? They go into detail about a hearing through the school, writing a victim impact statement. Let’s say you agree to this hearing and submit your statement. It takes a couple weeks and you’re so nervous but you try to remind yourself that the school has your back. Maybe he’s deemed responsible for what he did and pays a consequence doled out by the school. Then he applied for an appeal, oh god what’re you going to do now? They say it’ll be a couple days to review but it’s been a little over a week. A week later they overturn his appeal and you’re relieved, the school had your back. Then you start to question. If someone is found responsible for sexual assault through the schools own process, how do they justify only suspending him for a year?
When I was a student at StFX in 1996 an incarcerated young man, who was in jail for sexual assault, was actively recruited to come play for StFX hockey. He came, on full “leadership” scholarship and proceeded to sexually and physically assault a young woman who he met and dated at StFX. Charges were filed and yet StFX stood by him. Young female professors who tried to stand up and call attention had their future careers at StFX threatened. As students, some of us tried to voice our concerns and we were dismissed and ignored. I’m so sorry that we couldn’t have done more to make the campus safer and to encourage the university to take some responsibility. I’m so proud of everyone who is contributing their voices and I am in awe of the incredible bravery of those who are standing up and saying “no more.” Sending all of my love and strength to Antigonish and to those on campus who are continuing to fight.
I am sorry for the times
All my male privilege crimes
All the nights I crossed the line
Pretended what is yours was mine
Had a cloud inside my mind
In the line it must be fine
We are that close by design
But every thought I had was grime
I can’t believe that if we danced I thought I should deserve a kiss
I can’t believe the type of filth we would discuss while we would piss
I can’t believe the subtle warning signs that I would always miss
Too caught up in your tits to shake the fog and get a fucking grip
And while I never did commit
The heinous act after a date
Just because I didn’t take the cake
Still in my hand a plate
Still in my head I thought my fate
Would end inside somebody else
If all I did was stay up late
And bought you shots off of a shelf
Just because I never pulled you close I’d still participate
In a culture fuelled by evil in a culture numb to rape
In a culture filled with hate
Girls night out gets lined with tape
Crime scenes encased in blame
Where we throw shame at those encased
Maybe let’s starts to educate
Those that might conceive these plots
Instead of dancing in our circles
Instead of putting victims off
Instead of hiding in a box
Scared of idealistic thoughts
Scared of making some men cross
Because they might be at a loss
When they have to treat a woman like human fucking being
Maybe then from every bar and scummy hole we’d see them fleeing
And the repressed and scared and frightened wouldn’t have to stick to dreaming
Of the nights where they let go of all the tightness they were feeling
Recognize the pain inside, facilitate, embrace the healing
Stop the screaming
To whom it may concern, or bother to listen,
As an adult female student, I always thought it was silly how my mom would always worry about me taking night classes or studying on campus too late at night. The idea of me walking home when it is too dark wasn’t something I had thought that much into. To make my mom happy I would drive to campus when I knew I was going to be studying late so I wouldn’t be walking home alone in the dark. It never dawned on me this was solely because I am a woman, their fears were not from a place of personal safety but protection from others.
I never saw the problem. When any individual that attends StFX is asked by a friend or family member how school is the most common answer you hear is “StFX is like family, it’s a place I can call home.” That is how I had always felt. StFX was the only school I applied to because of its traditional values and because I had never heard anything bad about it. I was excited to be a part of the StFX family and would proudly wear my X-Ring. I’m not sure if I feel the same way anymore, and that is because I am a woman.
StFX was always somewhere I thought I was safe, somewhere where faculty and students looked out for each other. Obviously, I was sadly mistaken, the importance of female safety is not always in the agenda of those who are able to make change and choice on this campus.
Tonight, I walked home alone in the dark through campus and found my heart beating faster than normal. I found myself not listening to music and constantly checking over my shoulder and walking so fast I was out of breath by the time I got to my apartment. For the first time at StFX I felt unsafe because I am a woman.
This school has started to become too focused on their reputation of being a party school and changing their image that they have forgotten why this school is here. And in case you’re one of the people who have forgotten, this school is supposed to be a safe place for students to identify themselves, grow up, learn, socialize and have the best years of their lives while growing within their fields of study. When did this school lose their priority of keeping students safe regardless of gender?
What will it take for StFX to take their female students seriously? Is this man’s education more important than mine? Is this because of my gender? A man accused of such terrible things is allowed on my campus that now feels unsafe, and yet he is only one example. Why was the campus community only notified when it was featured on the news? Who are you truly trying to protect? As a woman on campus, why was I not warned that there was an accused rapist on my campus, and is he truly the only one?
Let me just say that I am not naïve enough to think that this doesn’t happen at academic institutions around the world because unfortunately it does. Women are taught to protect their bodies because of the actions of men who are unable to control themselves. I just keep on thinking “what if that girl was me?” How could this university that I love, and call my home, be so interested in money or reputation, and not about its students? I can now only protect myself because what if this was me, what would happen to me? The university would do nothing to protect me at all, solely because I am a woman.
In reflecting on my time at this university I find it easy to say that in the future I would not advise my own daughter that the best choice for undergraduate studies is StFX. I do not think this problem is going to get better. It is apparent, even within the past couple of years, when I don’t know if they will fight for her to feel safe because she is a woman.
Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association
A feminist, community based women’s organization providing services to women and adolescent girls that include crisis and ongoing problem-solving support, information, advocacy, accompaniment and referral.
Phone number: 902-863-6221
Address: 204 Kirk Place, 219 Main Street, Antigonish
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday 9:00 to 4:30
StFX Health and Counselling
Phone number: 902-867-2263
Address: 3rd floor, Bloomfield Centre 305
Hours of operation: Monday and Thursday, 8:30AM - 8:00PM Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30AM - 4:30PM.
StFX Student Life Office
To report sexual assault or sexual violence perpetrated by a StFX student or faculty member, contact Student Life reception to set up a meeting with Matt Gerard, student conduct officer, to leave a statement. (*note that disclosures to other staff or faculty are not considered formal reports)
Emergency shelter is available through Student Life for students who don’t feel safe returning to their residence room/building or house.
Address: 306A Bloomfield Centre
Antigonish Men’s Health Centre
Offers health care services for males 12 years and older.
Phone number: 902-863-2358
Address: 275 Main Street, Suite 103, Antigonish
Hours of operation: Tuesdays 8:30 to 6:00 or by call/appointment.
Victim Services Emotional Support – 1-902-490-5300
Emotional support for victims of sexual violence with no police involvement necessary in order to get support.
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm
The Sexual Assault and Harassment Phone Line - 1-902-425-1066
Offers non-judgemental, active listening and support to anyone who has experienced or has been affected by sexualized violence.
Hours of operation: 12pm - 12am, 7 days a week.