Representing Victims of Sexual Assault at Colleges and Universities
Every year, thousands of young men and women suffer sexual abuse and assault at colleges and universities across the United States. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), at least 11.2% of all college and university students will experience rape or sexual assault – whether through physical force or because of incapacitation – during their time at school. Because studies have shown that the majority of sexual assault and abuse incidents go unreported, experts believe this number is even higher.
When you or your loved one has endured the heinous crime of sexual abuse or assault, you deserve justice and a chance to pursue the institutions and individuals responsible for your suffering. At Ashcraft & Gerel, our Washington DC sexual abuse lawyers are committed to holding perpetrators accountable for abuse through the civil justice system, including when these incidents happen at colleges and universities.
Common Forms of Campus Sexual Abuse
Many people do not realize that sexual abuse can include behaviors other than rape and forcible physical contact. From blackmail to stalking, there are many different ways that sexual abusers seek to gain psychological control over their victims and subject them to feelings of helplessness, shame, and humiliation. It is also common for victims of sexual trauma to doubt their own experiences and assume that they have no legal recourse – which can make it all the more difficult for victims to speak out.
College and university sexual violence can include any of the following actions:
- Using “date rape” drugs on another student
- Unwanted touching, groping, or sexual acts
- Retaliation for saying “no”
- Intimidation and threats
- Sexual exploitation or posting “revenge porn”
- Physical violence
- Sexual contact with a drunk or incapacitated person
Survivors of sexual abuse and assault often suffer profoundly because of these crimes. Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all common psychological hallmarks of this kind of abuse and can persist for decades after the incident occurs. In cases involving physical violence, victims may also bear scars and life-altering injuries that will continue to remind them of the traumatic event.
What Are My Rights After College Sexual Abuse?
Because sexual assault, rape, and other forms of sexual violence are crimes, the government may decide to pursue criminal charges against the abuser after a victim comes forward. However, this isn’t always the case – and even when prosecutors do take action against your abuser, it still may not be enough to help ease the burden of your medical expenses, lost wages, and other financial costs.
If you or a loved one has suffered because of another person’s criminal actions, you may have grounds to bring a civil lawsuit against them. Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, it is also prohibited for any educational program that accepts federal funds to engage in gender and sex discrimination – which means that the university has a responsibility to fully investigate claims about sexual assault and abuse and take swift administrative action against perpetrators. Failing to do so – or perpetuating a culture of abuse – can make them liable for your losses as well.
While the path forward may seem complicated, our attorneys at Ashcraft & Gerel are dedicated to helping victims of college and university sexual abuse and assault recover some portion of what they have lost and regain peace of mind for the future. With compassion and extensive legal experience, our attorneys can represent your interests in court and seek to hold your abuser accountable.