A final goodbye
It seems such a crime to not fill such a beautiful journal with beautiful words. But here I am with a beautiful journal, a long bus ride ahead of me, and filled with some negative emotions. I guess I should start with StFX, the university that broke my heart. I wouldn’t say I was necessarily excited to go back, having been sexually assaulted the previous year, but I was certainly hopeful. I had reported to the school and my assaulter was suspended for the year. This was my fresh start, my chance to make my home there. There was still a voice in my head saying, ‘you only have a year of safety there.’ I pushed the voice away, determined to make the best of this year. I’d switched myself into Mackinnon Hall from Riley for a more social experience. I was in contact with a student involved with the weightlifting club so that I could join. I was taking medication to help with my mental health. I set up appointments at the hospital and Women’s Resource Centre. I really thought I’d put everything in place to have a kick ass second year. I may have had to avoid a certain fast food restaurant because my assaulter was living in town and working there but that was okay. I always had the campus as my safe place. This campus, this community, this family, I chose it. I chose to return despite my assault last year, I chose to move forward and heal.
I wish the school had given me that chance as I’d fallen in love with the town, StFX, and the community. Through a friend of mine I had heard the accused was seen at the radio station greeting new students. I was livid and terrified. How could that not be monitored? It was the first day of classes, for the first time since landing in Nova Scotia I’d felt excited. I had packed my bag for class and headed over to the RLC office to let them know about the accused. Someone brought me over to talk to the director of student life, Jacqueline De Leebeeck. I started to recount what I’d heard and for some reason the look on her face made my stomach drop. She started off, “there’s been a miscommunication, I’m sorry.” I felt my heartbeat start to speed up. “His lawyers got in contact with our legal counsel and he’s been permitted to take classes this year.” I still don’t think I have the words to describe how that felt but I’ll try. All at once it hit me and I was scared, angry, broken hearted and most of all I felt betrayed. This school that was supposed to protect me treated me and my assault like a joke. I got up to run outside as I felt the panic attack coming on. She threw out, “he’s only allowed on campus for classes,” as if that’s fucking consolation. I bolted out of the office and called my mom mid-panic attack. I was crying, shaking, yelling. She could barely make out what I was saying, I could barely breathe. I was utterly devastated knowing StFX cared about my safety so little. My mom told me she’d book me a flight for the next morning. She would never leave me somewhere I could never feel safe again. Before I went to pack my things I stopped in the RLC office one last time. I let Jacqueline know she could share all information with my mother and that, “no I will not be staying to handle my academics, you guys will be doing that as well as reimbursing us, I’m going home.”
It broke my heart, but I left StFX.
I left Antigonish.
I left Nova Scotia.