When the time comes for your child to leave for college, you could be both excited and anxious. The cases of sexual assaults happening on campuses could be something that's causing you to worry.
Even though campus sexual abuse, assault, and harassment have in the past years gained notoriety, they have long been a concern in colleges and universities across the country.
If you're a victim of a Title IX campus sexual assault, the Sex Crimes Attorney is available to advocate for and defend your rights. We offer our services to victims looking for a way to bring civil lawsuits against perpetrators of campus sexual assault. Call our law firm today to schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.
What's the Legal Definition of Sexual Assault?
All non-consensual sexual contacts, particularly when the assault victim cannot assent or grant explicit consent, are considered sexual assault. The following are examples of common sexual assault acts:
- Sexual battery.
- Unwanted fondling or sexual contact.
- Attempted rape.
- Penetration of the victim's anus or vagina or rape.
- Sexual coercion.
- Forcing someone else to participate in sexual activity, such as sexual intercourse or oral sex.
- Sexual abuse.
Rape is a common form of sexual assault. However, this doesn't imply that all instances of sexual assault result in physically penetrating the victim. This is so because the definition of rape is the forceful and unwelcome sexual penetration of the victim's body.
The FBI, under the Uniform Crime Reports, defines rape as the use of any bodily part or item to penetrate the vagina or anus. Rape can also be described as orally penetrating another person's sexual organs without their consent. Remember that any penetration is rape, no matter how small. Contrarily, sexual assault involves many sexual contact or acts.
Why Sexual Assault Is Being Reported at Higher Rates Than Other Campus Crimes
According to statistics, a female student on campus is twice as probable to suffer rape or sexual assault compared to being robbed. There is only a single reported robbery incidence for every 2 reported cases of sexual assault.
Therefore, it is crucial to examine the risk factors as well as several contributing elements in cases of sexual assault on campus grounds.
However, it is important to remember that many students are experiencing freedom for the very first time, either because they are now living independently or because they have never lived without parental supervision. Students in this situation are at increased risk for engaging in risky behavior because they lack parental supervision.
In their first taste of true freedom as young adults, many new students quickly earn a reputation for wild and erratic partying. However, some of these party-loving students participate in inappropriate or risky sexual behavior out of a desire for acceptance, which helps to explain the high number of sexual assault allegations.
Campus Sexual Assault Offenders
The majority of rape cases, both off and on campus, involve perpetrators who are recognized by the victims as family, a friend, or current or former spouses.
According to data from a survey of on-campus students, 31% of assault incidents were committed by attackers the victim could identify, 33% by the victim's former romantic partners, and 25 percent by the sexual assault victim's friends. Another 35 percent of those who had been assaulted said that their classmates were responsible. When put in comparison to 16.15 percent of graduates, only 5 percent of undergraduates claimed that their lecturers were responsible for the act.
Sexual assaulters are frequently depicted in movies as strangers. However, in most real-life scenarios, the offenders are not strangers, therefore you ought to be on the lookout for warning signs or red flags in your relatives, friends, or other people you may know personally.
Victims of Campus Sexual Assault
Any student is susceptible to becoming a sexual assault victim on campus, irrespective of ethnicity, gender, race, or age, ethnicity. According to a survey, 6.8 percent of male undergraduates and 26.4 percent of women reported experiencing physical violence or incapacitation during a sexual assault.
In addition, female students had a threefold higher risk of being sexual assault victims as compared to female nonstudents of similar ages. Nonetheless, compared to non-student men of similar ages, male college students make up 78% of the population at increased risk for sexual violence.
Where Do Sexual Assaults Often Take Place on Campus?
While sexual assault could happen anywhere, there have been specific settings where they tend to happen more frequently. Campus police have a crucial duty to play in safeguarding college kids from inappropriate sexual behavior. This includes increasing protections, promptly reacting to sexual assault allegations and violence perpetrated against intimate partners, and more.
When it comes to sexual assault as well as other kinds of violent acts against women, female college students are disproportionately affected. Yet, you ought to have confidence that your campus is safe and you're able to participate in all pursuits there without worrying about being assaulted. Being aware of the locations where assaults take place could help.
The following are some scenarios where sexual assaults can occur on and off campus:
At Fraternity Or Sorority Parties
Alcohol reduces inhibitions, slows reaction speed, and impairs critical reasoning; you might not be capable of recognizing a dangerous situation while intoxicated as you would be sober.
During Hazing Events For Fraternities and Sororities
While there are certainly unethical aspects of sorority or frat life, sexual assault is never acceptable in any circumstance.
At a Professor's Office
Your lecturers or professors ought to be moral role models, but you have legal options when they make unwanted sexual advances.
In Campus Events
If you've been sexually assaulted in such scenarios as a result of insufficient security or staffing problems with campus security, the institution could be held accountable.
During a School-Related Trip
Occasionally, sexual assaults do occur while on trips abroad.
Factors That Contribute to Campus Sexual Assault
The environment at a university or college makes sexual assault more likely to happen. The factors that lead to sexual assault instances are:
Ultimatums and Threats
Being a sorority or fraternity member increases your risk of experiencing sexual assault. This is primarily since drinking alcohol or using other drugs is common during these social events, which raises the likelihood of inappropriate conduct including unwanted or unsafe sexual contact.
Sorority membership increases one's likelihood of experiencing sexual assault in many California universities.
One definition of misogyny is "hostility against women," which can manifest as acts such as objectification of women and sexual harassment.
Additionally, it is not difficult to admit individuals who hold misogynistic ideas because schools and institutions around the country accept students from a variety of social, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
These students are more likely to engage in sexually harassing behavior or objectification of women while on campus, whether deliberately or unknowingly, which increases the risk of sexual assault.
Sexual Objectification of the Female Students
Among the behaviors that those with sexist ideas tend to exhibit is female objectification. Women being objectified implies that they are mainly good at gratifying or making men happy.
Sadly, with the extensive adoption of social media on campuses nowadays, where women mainly share their images, it is now easier for their male counterparts to regard them as sexual objects rather than as regular humans.
The likelihood of sexual harassment against female students has risen since some male students believe that women are supposed to do whatever is needed to keep them happy. This lack of regard for women or their bodies rather than the individuals they are has exacerbated the sexual assault cases.
Remember that most sexual assault offenders know their victims personally and may even be acquaintances or classmates. Students often develop reliable partnerships with others, which allows them to spend personal time with their friends. As a result, grooming acts or habits on campus can be shared.
When the trust levels have been established between the students and they are left alone, it is far simpler for a student to be sexually assaulted by a friend or fellow student with whom they have placed the most confidence. That explains how most sexual perpetrators on college campuses are people who are familiar with the victims rather than strangers.
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
Drugs or alcohol use is one of the leading causes of sexual assault among college students. When students move to campus, they often feel a sense of freedom since they are no longer subject to the restrictions of their parents. Many of these students wind up taking drugs and other substances, which affects their cognitive abilities.
The victim would not be able to give consent in such circumstances. The sexual assault would arise if the offender's judgment is impaired and they believe the purported victim has permitted them when they haven't. Many sexual abuse victims reported having taken drugs or alcohol before the incident, while others said the perpetrator had been under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Many incoming university or college students regard their period on campus as their first opportunity to truly exercise their freedoms and make their judgments. Most students are driven by their independence and desire to fit in to engage in multiple sexual relations, drinking sprees, and using drugs, which raises the chances that both victims and offenders would get involved in sexual assault.
Lack of Empathy for Others
Empathy is the ability to recognize and comprehend other people's feelings. Sexual assault offenders often don't try to empathize or understand the feelings of their victims, which significantly contributes to the epidemic on college campuses.
Consequences of Sexual Assault on Campus
The repercussions of sexual harassment and assault in colleges can be long-lasting and far-reaching. Victims might struggle with an array of physical, emotional, and mental health problems.
The following are a few of the most prevalent consequences:
Students who have been sexually assaulted by friends or acquaintances could struggle to trust others in the future, which can cause depression and anxiety. Suicidal thoughts and attempts are also common.
Several students use substances such as alcohol or drugs to deal with the traumas of sexual assault. This could result in addiction and substance abuse problems.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects many victims of sexual abuse. Common PTSD symptoms in victims of sexual assault include nightmares, flashbacks, sexual dysfunction, difficulties concentrating, and avoidance of triggers.
Bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa are examples of eating disorders that can develop in individuals who have suffered from sexual abuse, harassment, or assault. These conditions are frequently used as a means of regaining control over their body after feeling as though they have lost it.
Having trouble falling asleep is a severe consequence of sexual assault. After being sexually abused, most students find it difficult to stay or fall asleep due to the trauma.
A few students sometimes cut or burn themselves as a way to harm themselves. They do this to deal with the trauma and pain of being sexually assaulted.
Reasons Why Many Sexual Assault Cases On Campus Go Unreported
According to RAINN statistical data, just 20% of female college students report incidences of sexual assault to police officers. Comparing these figures to those for non-student females (32% of whom reported assaults to authorities) shows just how much lower the student population is at risk for campus sexual assault. Twenty-six percent of female students who experienced sexual assault didn't disclose it since they considered it to be personal.
An additional 20% were worried about retaliation, 12% felt the incident did not deserve reporting, 10% didn't want to embarrass the offender since they were acquaintances or friends, 9% thought law enforcement officers could not be of assistance, and 4% reported but didn't call the police.
The female students also gave the following reasons for why they did not report the campus sexual assault case:
- Embarrassment or shame.
- The impression that they're at fault.
- The desire to block out memories.
- Fear of reprisals.
Complex reporting processes for such cases, which leave many survivors unable to complete the conditions for reporting, are one of the reasons why assault is not reported more often. However, there are various other reasons why sexual assaults on college campuses go unreported.
Holding Higher Education Institutions Responsible For Sexual Assault On Campus
Institutions receiving federal financing are prohibited from engaging in discrimination on the grounds of a student's or employee's gender under Title IX, a federal law passed in 1972. The law defines sexual assault as sex-based discrimination. The law guarantees that each student, regardless of their gender, has access to equal educational opportunities.
Therefore, if a student is sexually assaulted and the institution fails or ignores to respond appropriately, the school would violate the victim's constitutional right to equal opportunities for education. Victims of sexual assault can sue their institutions in civil court for economic damages if they feel their institutions have engaged in sex discrimination by not dealing with assault cases or responding to sexual abuse improperly.
This law also mandates that colleges and universities notify local law enforcement of any incidences of sexual abuse that students report to them. Again, if an institution learns or should have known about a sexual assault occurring on campus, it should take immediate action to stop it, prevent similar incidents in the future, and deal with its effects so that all students can have equitable access to education.
In addition to Title IX, the Clery Act also addresses sexual assault cases in institutions of higher education. The law mandates that all crime statistics and security-related procedures be reported by colleges and universities. The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act was once again passed by lawmakers in response to the increased risk of sexual assault on college campuses. The law mandates that these higher education institutions provide instruction on sexual assault, abuse, stalking, and violence prevention to all of its students, faculty, and staff.
What To Do in the Aftermath of Sexual Assault on Campus
Avoiding sexual assault on campus is critical for establishing a healthy and secure environment for everybody. Sadly, sexual assaults still occur on university and college campuses.
There are steps you can take if you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual assault to seek support and identify the perpetrator.
Find a Secure Location
It is crucial to travel to a safe location first and foremost. If you find yourself in imminent danger, contact campus security. There are many options open to help you if you require support even though they aren't in danger. The National Sexual Assault Helpline offers confidential counseling and 24-hour support to those who have suffered sexual assault.
Submit a Police Report
If you're willing to file an incident report about sexual assault, you need to contact your neighborhood law enforcement department or the college law enforcement department. It is crucial to take measures right away so that information could be acquired and the offender of the sexual assault can be held accountable.
You can submit a report to the Title IX office at your institution in addition to calling law enforcement. Federal legislation Title IX forbids gender discrimination in educational initiatives or institutions that receive funding from the federal government.
Disciplinary Measures Against the Offender
An investigation would follow once a report is submitted to the Title IX office at your campus, and the offender could face penalties that include expulsion from the institution.
If you've been sexually assaulted, you have a legal right to obtain restraining orders or file a civil case against the offender. Even if you decide against submitting a Title IX report or police report, you can still explore the following alternatives.
Moreover, you should think about getting medical help as soon as you can after the sexual assault. You might need medical attention for injuries, and you could be pregnant or at risk for STDs. These dangers are common in undesirable sexual interactions. Therefore, it is best to seek help as soon as possible.
Sexual Assault Counselling
Also, many universities and colleges have on-site counseling services or hotlines that could help prevent sexual assault, which can offer you resources and support. These sessions are private and can assist you in coping with the psychological trauma of sexual assault.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center and RAINN are two examples of national institutions that serve sexual assault victims.
While sexual victimization is a significant issue on college and university campuses, many individuals and organizations are committed to supporting those who have experienced it. Don't be reluctant to get the support you need if you or a loved one is a victim of sexual assault.
What Happens If I Notify the Police About the Incident?
The criminal justice procedure begins when someone reports to the authorities. The police would first carry out an investigation, which could involve speaking with the victim, the perpetrator, and any eyewitnesses.
After that, the local prosecutor's office will receive the findings from the police investigation. The prosecutor will determine whether or not to file criminal charges against the perpetrator. If a criminal charge is brought and the offender is found guilty, they could be sentenced to prison or probation.
It's critical to keep in mind that an institution might not have appropriately handled your campus sexual assault by failing to respond or prevent it. Only a civil court case can deal with that.
Find a Seasoned Sexual Assault Lawyer Near Me
As a survivor or victim of campus sexual assault, you would find it difficult to break free of the toxic atmosphere that surrounds sexual violence on campus at colleges and universities across California. Fortunately, talking to an experienced lawyer about your situation is a positive step toward getting help.
If you feel your institution neglected your case after you filed a sexual assault on campus complaint or failed to respond to the issue appropriately, we at Sex Crimes Attorney are here to assist you to file a civil lawsuit against it. Your case is important to us, and our lawyers will work tirelessly to secure full compensation for any damages and ensure that justice is served. For more information on your legal rights, feel free to contact us at 888-666-8480.