College Campus Sexual Assault Lawyer
Your child going off to college is an exciting time, but it can also come with a lot of anxiety — for both of you. One worry that may be on your mind is the risk of sexual assault on campus.
Understanding the reality of sexual assault on college campuses and what steps college students can take to help prevent it is essential.
Were you or your child a campus sexual assault victim? If so, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury, Lawyers, LLC are legal advocates for the sexually abused.
Call our Chicago sexual abuse lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share in a safe environment with your sexual abuse attorney remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
What are Campus Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment?
Sexual violence or sexual assault on college campuses can take many forms, including but not limited to rape, attempted rape, and sexual coercion. It can happen between two people who know each other or have just met.
Most sexual assaults on campus are perpetrated by someone the college students know, such as a friend, classmate, or acquaintance, often referred to as "date rape" or "acquaintance rape."
While men can be assaulted, most sexual abuse survivors are women. A report showed that one in five women experience harassment or assault on campus. Non-binary, queer, and transgender individuals are also at risk.
Why is Sexual Assault More Common on College Campuses?
There is no single cause of campus sexual assault. It is a complex issue with a variety of contributing factors. However, it's important to note that sexual abuse is more common in students than in non-students of the same age. So, the causes may be associated with the college culture and reluctance to report due to fear of reprisal and proximity to the perpetrator.
Some of the most common include:
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
A large number of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol and drugs. Many assailants take advantage of their victims' inebriation to make them more vulnerable to attack. The college culture of partying and excessive alcohol consumption can facilitate this.
The pressure to fit in and be popular in college can contribute to sexual assault in college students. Some college students feel pressure to have sex or engage in other sexual activity, even if they don't want to.
It could be especially true if their social group is pressuring or making fun of them for being a virgin or not being sexually experienced. Dating violence is another cause of sexual assaults, especially among female undergraduates or students exploring their sexual curiosity and orientation.
Sense of Entitlement
Some people feel entitled to sex, regardless of whether their partner wants to have sex or not. They may see sex as owed to them and view their partner as an object to be used for their personal pleasure. Such behavior may stem from domestic violence or traumatic childhood experiences.
What are the Consequences of Campus Sexual Assault?
The consequences of sexual assault and sexual harassment in college can be far-reaching and long-lasting. Victims may experience various physical, mental, and emotional health problems.
Some of the most common consequences include:
- Anxiety: Students assaulted by close acquaintances or friends may have difficulty trusting people in the future, leading to anxiety and depression. The incidence of suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts is also common.
- PTSD: Many sexual abuse victims experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD in sexual abuse victims include flashbacks, nightmares, sexual dysfunction, avoidance of triggers, and difficulty concentrating.
- Substance Abuse: Some students turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the trauma of being sexually assaulted. It can lead to substance abuse problems and addiction.
- Eating Disorders: Victims of sexual harassment, abuse, and violence may develop eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. These disorders are often a way to gain control over their bodies after feeling like they have lost control.
- Self-Harm: Some students may engage in self-harm behaviors such as cutting or burning themselves. They use this to cope with the pain and trauma of being assaulted.
- Sleep Disorders: A significant aftereffect of sexual abuse is experiencing difficulty in sleeping. Many students have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep after being sexually assaulted.
Campus Sexual Assault Statistics
Sexual assault on campus is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue. Here are some statistics that reflect this issue.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) Statistics
RAINN is a national helpline for sexual assault victims. The organization is involved in many efforts to support victims and prevent sexual assault.
Here are some statistics shared by the organization on its website. The statistics are taken from the National Crime Victimization Survey and other relevant sources:
- 13% of students experience sexual assault at college through physical force, incapacitation, and violence. The incidence is higher among undergraduate students since they're young and relatively immature, making them easy victims.
- 26.4% of female undergraduates and graduate students experience sexual assault or rape through physical or brute force. Meanwhile, 6.8% of the undergraduate students raped or sexually abused are male.
- Meanwhile, among professional students and graduates, 2.5% of males experience sexual assault while 9.7% of females experience assault through physical force.
- 5.8% of the students have been stalked since they entered college.
However, it's unfortunate that most students don't report campus sexual assaults because they think it's not a big deal, are worried about retaliation, or want to protect the offender. The sexual perpetrator could include a faculty member, staff member, sorority or fraternity student, university professor, outsider, or friend.
Campus Crime Stats
A report showed that sexual violence is more common than other crimes on campus. A victim services agency assisted one in every five college-aged female students sexually assaulted on campus.
Meanwhile, 23.1% of LGBTQ students experience sexual violence in college. These are transgender, genderqueer, and nonconforming students.
Lack of Reporting
It's very concerning that students, especially college women, don't report sexually violent attacks they experience on campus, especially since reporting is the first step in an attempt to end campus sexual abuse.
Only 20% of college women report sexual assault to law enforcement agencies. In comparison, 32% of non-students report to the authorities if they are sexually assaulted. In all these cases, non-students are more likely to report to medical professionals and police than students of the same age.
Reported But Not to Police
Some students reported their experience to a school official but not the police. The reasons for this are:
- They thought the police would not do anything because it happened on campus
- They did not want to get their attacker in trouble
- They were worried that people would find out
About 4% of female students reported to authorities other than the police. 9% of them believed the police would not or could not do anything to help them.
Protecting the Perpetrator
Since the perpetrator is often known to the victim, students are worried about the repercussions of going to the police. They fear that:
- The perpetrator will retaliate against them
- They will get in trouble themselves
- People will treat them differently afterword
10% of female students did not report sexual assault because they did not want their perpetrator to get in trouble.
Not Considering It Important
Many students do not reach out to the criminal justice system because they believe what happened to them wasn't important enough. In a study of undergraduate women, 12% of victims who did not report their experience said it was because "it wasn't serious enough."
Fear of Reprisal
The fear of retaliation is one of the main reasons students don't report campus sexual violence.
Students are worried that:
- They will be ignored
- People will think they are lying
- They will be blamed for what happened
Nearly 20% of college women who did not report their campus sexual violence experience said it was because they feared reprisal.
What Can You Do If You Or Someone You Know Has Been Sexually Assaulted On Campus?
Preventing campus sexual assault is imperative to create a safe and healthy environment for everyone. Unfortunately, sexual assaults still happen on college and university campuses.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there are some things that you can do to seek help and bring the perpetrator to justice.
Find a Safe Place
First and foremost, it is important to get to a safe place. If you are in immediate danger, call the campus police. If you are not in danger but need assistance, many resources are available to help you.
The National Sexual Assault Hotline provides confidential crisis counseling and 24/7 support for victims of sexual assault. If you want to talk to someone but are not ready to file a police report, you can call the hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).
File a Police Report
If you are ready to file a police report on sexual misconduct, you should go to your local police department or the campus police department. It is essential to do this as soon as possible so that evidence can be gathered and the sexual abuse perpetrator can be brought to justice.
In addition to filing a police report, you can also file a report with your school's Title IX office. Title IXis a federal law prohibiting gender discrimination in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
Disciplinary Action Against the Perpetrator
Filing a report with your school's Title IX office will initiate an investigation, and the perpetrator may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion from the school.
If you experienced sexual assault, you have the right to seek legal action against the perpetrator by filing a restraining order or civil lawsuit. You can pursue the following options even if you do not want to file a police report or a Title IX report.
You should also consider seeking medical attention as soon as possible after the assault. You may have injuries that need to be treated and may also be at risk for sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy. These risks are prevalent in unwanted sexual experiences. Thus, the sooner you seek assistance, the better.
Sexual Assault Counseling
Furthermore, many colleges and universities offer on-site counseling centers or sexual assault prevention hotlines that can provide you with support and resources. These services are confidential and can help you deal with the emotional trauma of being sexually assaulted.
Some national organizations also provide support to sexual assault survivors, such as RAINN and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Sexual victimization is a serious problem on college campuses, but many people and organizations are dedicated to helping survivors. If you or someone you know has been through sexual victimization, don't hesitate to seek the help you deserve.
How to Support a Survivor of Sexual Assault on College Campus?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to healing after a sexual assault, but getting support from friends, family, counselors, and other survivors can be an essential part of the healing process.
Here are some tips from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center on what you can do to support a survivor:
- Believe Them: It can be challenging for survivors to come forward, and it is essential to believe them when they do.
- Listen: Let the survivor share as much or as little as they want to about their experience. Avoid asking intrusive questions or making assumptions about what they should do next.
- Respect Their Choices: It is important to respect the survivor's choices about whether or not to report the sexual misconduct to authorities, seek medical attention, or tell others about the assault.
- Offer Support: Let survivors of unwanted sexual acts know you are there for them and offer specific ways to help, such as going with them to get medical attention or talking to campus authorities on their behalf.
- Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help: Counseling and therapy can benefit survivors of sexual assault. If the survivor is not ready to seek professional help, let them know that you are there for them and offer to help them find resources when they are ready.
Campus Sexual Abuse Prevention Measures
Higher education institutions should take various measures for sexual violence prevention on their college campuses. Many things can be done to ensure that students feel safe and comfortable on campus and have the resources to consult if sexual assaults occur.
Some of the things that higher education institutions could do to prevent sexual harassment, abuse, and violence on their college campuses include:
Provide Training for All Students and Staff
One of the most important things colleges can do to prevent campus sexual assault is to provide training for all students and staff. The training should cover what campus sexual assault is, how to spot the warning signs, intervene if someone appears in danger, and where to go for help if a sexual assault occurs.
Unfortunately, many students fail to spot the warning signs of sexual abuse. It means that colleges need to do more to educate their students about abuse and how to approach a case of alleged campus sexual assault.
Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment
It is also crucial for colleges to create a safe and supportive campus environment. School administrators should develop and enforce policies and procedures to address sexual assault, ensuring students know where to go for help, and providing support services for victims of sexual misconduct, harassment, violence, abuse, and assault.
Colleges should also have a campus security policy that the whole campus community is familiar with and have access to guards to stay safe. American universities have been criticized for their handling of sexual assault incidents.
Advocates and students claim that universities do not do enough to protect students or prevent sexual assault through counseling centers and well-curated policies.
Title IX Sexual Assault
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq.) is a Federal civil rights law prohibiting sexual discrimination against students involved in education programs and school activities.
All private and public schools, colleges, and universities receiving federal financial assistance or indirect federal funding must comply with federal law.
Discrimination under Title IX is based on sexual acts that include:
- Sexual harassment
- Oral sex and sodomy
- Sexual intercourse
- Sexual abuse such as rape, sexual assault, and sexual battery
- Any type of sexual misconduct
- Sexual coercion
- Any non-consensual sexual act
Many colleges that receive federal funding have faced civil lawsuits for their failure to uphold Title IX when students are victimized by sexual misconduct.
Campus Crime Statistics Act
The Campus Crime Statistics Act requires universities and colleges participating in federal student aid programs to disclose security information and crime data. Even so, some colleges fail to do so.
While many universities struggle to create a campus culture of safeness and comradery, Georgia State University is among the institutions that have been proactive in implementing campus sexual assault prevention policies to address sexual assault on campus grounds.
The school has a comprehensive sexual misconduct policy that includes training for students and staff, support services for victims, and transparent procedures for reporting and investigating cases of sexual assault.
As a part of their prevention efforts, colleges should inform students about possible options for legal counsel and protection from the police.
Making Sure All Students Feel Welcome and Included
Discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation can make some students feel unsafe and unwelcome on campus.
Discrimination is especially harmful to transgender and gender non-conforming students, who often face discrimination and harassment.
To create a safe and inclusive environment for all students, colleges should have policies to address discrimination and harassment.
They should also ensure they eliminate the risk factors that perpetuate gender-based discrimination. Educational programs and online training for campus security and other staff can help create a more inclusive environment.
Building an Effective Relationship With Law Enforcement
Colleges should also build an effective relationship with law enforcement. For example, they should work with local police to develop safety plans, share information about sexual assault cases, and provide training for officers responding to reports of sexual assault.
In addition, universities should provide their students with the contact information of the local law enforcement department in case they need to report a sexual assault. As mentioned earlier, students are reluctant to report to law enforcement agencies because they believe no one will be able to help them or that assault and intentional sexual tort isn't a big enough problem.
Along with giving students access to law enforcement authorities, colleges should also have an educational program to assist students in understanding why reporting is essential.
The Aftermath of Sexual Assaults
Dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault can be very difficult, especially if you know the perpetrator. The situation becomes even more complicated when the sexual assault incident occurs in college, a place you consider safe. Many colleges and universities have support services to help you deal with sexual assault, but it can still be a challenging experience.
Receive support from someone who understands what you're going through.
Hire a Campus Sexual Assault Attorney to Resolve Your Compensation Case
Are you the victim of sexual abuse? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can ensure you receive financial compensation from those who caused you harm. Our legal team will determine all defendants involved in your case that might include the sexual assaulter, the College/University, and others who failed to ensure your safety while on campus.
Our law firm accepts all civil lawsuits on a contingency fee basis, meaning no upfront fees are required. Your sexual assault attorney will be paid only after you receive compensation.
Call an experienced attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss how to seek justice through the civil justice system. The compassionate lawyers at our law firm are ready to hear your story in a confidential setting while ensuring your safety with the respect and dignity you deserve.