Kayleigh Ballantyne: the Story of a Survivor

In July of 2013, incoming Bryant University senior Kayleigh Ballantyne was attacked when coming home to her apartment building in Boston. Kayleigh was stabbed nine times before fighting her assailant off. ​Her attacker, Edwin Alemany, had killed 24-year-old Amy Lord earlier that day. Alemany was arrested and, with help from Kayleigh's testimony, sentenced to life in prison without parole. Kayleigh spoke to the public about the attack for the first time in an episode of the Investigation Discovery series See No Evil, which aired in February. Kayleigh's strength since the attack has been inspiring, and Her Campus Bryant was lucky to interview her after the episode aired. You can catch a rerun of the show on Investigation Discovery this Monday, March 28, at 9pm. 

HC: What made you decide to participate in the See No Evil episode?

KB: Because this was my first opportunity to share my experience, I felt that it was important to disclose never before seen details to the public.  Hearing from a survivor who has come in contact with a situation as unfortunate as this attack was, can give the viewers the realization that things like this can happen to anyone.  Given this opportunity I was able to heal immensely by knowing I could potentially be saving lives by sharing my story with others.   

HC: You said in your interview with Investigation Discovery that you will never forget Amy Lord. How have you been able to carry her memory with you?   

KB: Throughout my recovery and during the trial, the memory of Amy always grew stronger and stronger every day.  The topic of Amy Lord hits an emotional spot for me, but instead of a negative thought I try and remember all the loving and caring words her family spoke about her during the trial.  Amy always wore an angel wing necklace that is now worn by her mother Cindy.  At the end of the trial Cindy gave me a necklace with an angel wing in a box that had “You will never be alone” engraved on it.  The bond I share with Amy I don’t think anyone will understand until they have to go through something like we have.  Knowing that she was murdered by the same attacker is something one will never move on from.  I’ve chosen to live my life for the both of us because she deserves that.  I think that’s the best way I’ve been carrying her memory on with me; just knowing that I’m never alone throughout my day and that she’s always with me. 

HC:  How did the Bryant community help you in the aftermath of the attack?

KB: Originally I was planning on taking my senior year off from Bryant, and returning the following year.  However, after all the support I was receiving from my field hockey coaches, teammates, both Kati and Ron Machtley, Department of Public Safety, and all of the Bryant administration it was an easy decision to head back to Bryant to complete my degree on time.  Getting all the reassurance that I would be safe at all times on campus really empowered me to keep moving forward with my healing.  I can thank Bryant University whole heartedly for making that process of my life go as smooth as possible. 

HC: What was your reaction to being awarded the Bryant University Distinguished Character Award?

KB: I was overwhelmed with honor to accept the award.  At first I was a little hesitant because I didn’t want people thinking I just had character from surviving the attack.  After reviewing the criteria for the award I found that I portrayed what was being described.  To date, this award has been one of the most impactful things that I have received in my life.  Hearing someone so prevalent in life such as President Machtley speak of such courage and strength that I represent is a feeling that will also never go away.  At the age of 24, that’s really something to be proud of!

HC: What do you want people to learn or take away from your story?

KB: My biggest goal in life is to help others by sharing my rare experiences that I’ve gone through.  The situation that I encountered can happen to anyone at any time.  One of my most prevalent messages is to understand that no matter what happens you have the strength and perseverance as an individual to keep pushing and to get through anything.  The people that think they can’t are thinking with their head and not their heart.  It’s so very important to believe in yourself whole heartedly. 

HC: Do you have any other advice for other young women in regards to keeping themselves safe?

KB: No matter what gender you are, I can’t stress enough how important it is to always look over your shoulder when walking really at any time of the day.  People can pop out of know where at any time.  It’s important to know your surroundings.  At night, walking in a group and staying in well lit areas is always a responsible move.  If having to walk alone carrying your car key in your hand can make a statement to an unknown person, and it’s very simple to do!  Lastly, please don’t wear headphones.  I know it can get boring walking the same route every night and music makes things go by quicker. 

HC: We understand you fought off your attacker. Can you tell us what was going through your mind in that moment?

KB: As I felt someone coming up behind me, I turned off my right shoulder and saw a man with a knife.  The first thought that came to my mind was that there was a knife and I was about to get stabbed.  After I processed that, I started screaming and yelling while kicking him as hard as I could at the same time.

HC: Do you think that your decision to fight back saved your life? Is there anything you want people to know should they find themselves in a similar situation?

KB: Yes, there is no doubt in my mind it saved my life.  Just always remember you are stronger than you think you are.  When you need that strength it will come out. Believe in yourself. 

HC: We understand that you were seriously injured. Are there any long term effects from the attack? How are you now?

KB: Luckily there are not any long term effects from my injuries.  Now, I work out every day because of how healthy it is for us as humans.  I feel my best when I stay in shape and that’s really important to me.  I’ve learned in the past few years, having a consistent routine has helped me stay on track and focused on the future. 

HC: What are your plans going forward?

KB: The last two years since graduating from Bryant I’ve been working as a nanny in Lincoln, Rhode Island.  Currently living in Providence, I plan on moving back to Portland, Maine where I grew up in May.  My family resides there and I look forward to being able to spend more time with them.  

To hear more about Kayleigh's story, watch the See No Evil episode Monday night at 9pm on Investigation Discovery.