Sexual Harassment on Campus – What to Do If You’re a Victim?

Even though studies show that 89% of universities and colleges have no reported sexual assault incidents, sexual harassment still happens. Many studies show that rape is a common form of assault on campus, and it affects many students, leaving them with PTSD among other things.

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13% of students experience sexual assault through violence, incapacitation, or physical force. Moreover, college sexual violence is more likely to happen compared to other forms of crime. Nobody should ever have to go through sexual harassment, but it’s crucial to know what to do in the event you’re a victim.

This article will cover the steps you should take if you are ever sexually harassed on campus.

How Can Sexual Harassment Influence College Students?

Sexual harassment and assault are horrible things that can have long-lasting effects on the victim. These effects can be both mental and physical, and it’s crucial to be educated on what could happen following the terrible event.

  • Being Scared to Take Action

Many sexual harassment victims, especially very young ones, are afraid to take legal action against their attacker. There are various reasons why this happens:

  • The victim may think that nobody will believe what they say.
  • In the victim’s mind, the authorities will not attempt to do anything.
  • The attacker may be in the same class as the survivor, in which case the victim is afraid to do anything believing the culprit will seek revenge.

All sexual harassment victims are going through a very emotionally difficult period, and it can take time to build up the courage to report the incident.

  • Being Tempted to Underreport the Crime

Both men and women can be victims of sexual assault. However, most of the time, women do not report the incident to the authorities. Statistics show that only around 20% of female college students end up reporting cases of harassment.

Very often, the culprit in a sexual harassment case is someone the victim already knows, like an acquaintance, family member, or colleague. When the victim knows the perpetrator, they may underreport the crime because they worry about consequences or fear for their safety.

  • Health Problems

Health issues are quite common after a sexual harassment case. Some victims develop post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, and loss of appetite.

Furthermore, the student may suffer from low self-esteem after the incident.

Things to Do Following a Sexual Harassment Incident on Campus

Not doing anything about the sexual harassment incident can make things worse for the victim. At the same time, it leaves the perpetrator free to do other crimes without experiencing repercussions. It can be a danger for other students who may become potential victims.

So, here is what you should do if you’re a victim:

  • Find a Safe Place

It’s normal to feel disoriented and scared after being sexually harassed. Leaving the location of the attack is critical following such an incident, though. Find a safe place where you can get help.

  • Seek Help

You can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline or go to the hospital. By doing the latter, you will have hospital workers help you get in contact with local authorities for a report. If you call the hotline, you’ll talk to a trained representative who will tell you what to do.

  • Get Medical Treatment

Seek immediate medical care after a case of sexual harassment. There are many institutions that only have 72-96 hours available for forensic evidence collection. This is why you should not delay the process of getting medical attention.

Healthcare professionals can provide STI screening and may give you medicine that can decrease the risk of HIV. On top of that, the samples collected can confirm the culprit’s identity.

  • Gather Evidence

If you have the chance to gather any evidence, do it. This makes it easier to identify the perpetrator and build a strong case against them. Most of the time, victims and perpetrators in sexual assault cases know each other, so you may be able to help the police find them and arrest them quicker.

You can provide proof of communication and your clothing as evidence, but other things like photos or videos will help tremendously as well.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to sexual assault, California has a statute of limitations of ten years from the date of the incident to file a claim. During this time, you should also consider hiring a Woodland Hills sexual harassment attorney to help you with the case.

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