For many students, going to college is a time of growth and tradition. It is often students’ first step into adulthood and paves the way for the path that they will take throughout the course of their careers and lives.
Regretfully, not all college experiences are created equally. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as many as 1 in 5 female undergraduate students will experience sexual assault during their time in college. Moreover, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) suggested in 2010 that as many as 95 percent of campus rapes go unreported.
It is true that not all survivors of sexual assault feel that reporting the incident to law enforcement authorities is necessary in order for the survivors to move forward from their experience. To the contrary, some may feel such reporting makes them vulnerable to re-victimization by the criminal justice system. Some may feel that a rape crisis and recovery center or other such resource is preferable to contacting the police.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you may feel lost, alone, or unsure of where to turn. One online resource to consult is The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
Defining Sexual Assault
One reason many sexual assaults go unreported has to do with uncertainty over whether or not a sexual assault has occurred. Sexual assault is not limited to crime of rape. Sexual assault includes other forms of unwanted sexual conduct, including but not limited to physical touching, sexual coercion, threats of physical or sexual violence, or unwanted sexual comments.
Ultimately, the issue revolves around the concept of consent – which is defined by RAINN as “an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity.” Consent can be revoked at any time, including during a sexual act.
An Abuse of Power
Sexual assault can be perpetrated from otherwise trusted sources. Take for example the case of University of Southern California (USC) physician Dr. George Tyndall. Dr. Tyndall is accused of inappropriate sexual touching of and illicit, racial and otherwise inappropriate sexual comments to his patients during routine and emergency gynecological exams. At the time of this publication, it has been reported by NBC News that at least 24 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against Dr. Tyndall and USC alleging such claims.
Knowing Your Resources
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Many universities receive federal financial assistance of some sort, and as such, many universities take Title IX claims very seriously. Even if you believe that you have been the victim of a sexual assault from a professor or other university staff, there is always a chain of command that you can approach who can assist you.
A good place to start is your university’s mental health center, college counselors, or Dean of Student’s offices. These student support professionals are often trained in recognizing and reporting potential Title IX cases and are dedicated to helping you receive the help that you need.
What to do if You Believe You Have Been Sexually Assaulted
If you are reading this and have recently been the victim of a sexual assault, it is important to remember that you are not responsible for what has happened to you.
Our female assault attorneys are standing by ready to speak with you about your case. GJELL offers free, no obligation, case evaluations. Call today for a confidential case evaluation.
Sexual Abuse on College Campuses