Healing In Nature
THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL: A PATHWAY TO RECOVERY FROM SEXUAL VIOLENCE
I remembered how the students I took backpacking in wilderness therapy loved their hot sauce in the woods. The sun was going down in the distance; it fell across the horizon, lighting up a portrait of red, orange, and yellow. Softly, and then all at once, the light reflected off the white painted strip on a tree. It was following school year that the case resurfaced again. I was on the college swim team and was in practice when I received news that the dean wanted to meet with me. What I found out next was challenging to comprehend. The student's family had hired an attorney and threatened to sue the college if they did not revoke his suspension. I sat in the room again, the last place I saw my assaulter. The dean sat across from me with a document he would later ask me to sign. He explained that the student was finding difficulty getting accepted into another college and would take legal action against the university if his suspension was not revoked. The dean continued informing me that a Title 9 Investigation would take place, and I would be expected to show up in a courtroom. I froze, I could not believe this was happening again, and I would have to see him in court, which I so desperately wanted to avoid. The dean's document in front of me proposed that this student's suspension would be lifted in exchange for never attending or stepping foot on college property. Additionally, he was never allowed to contact me or anyone in my family again. I signed the document I was asked to sign, aware that justice would not be reached this time. The following day I woke to the sound of footsteps walking. I turned on my phone to check the time, roughly 6:30 am. I went back to bed. Later, I woke slowly and ate some peanut butter, granola, and dried fruit. I hiked a lot of miles that day, over fifteen. The more time I spent on the trail, the more I wanted to stay out here for longer and the more miles I wanted to complete.
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