What happens if I am sexually abused on my college campus? South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney offers advice
If you or someone you know were sexually abused on a Florida college or university campus, we’re here to help.
We’re sorry you are now navigating this difficult path, and we’re here to offer any support and guidance we can to help you navigate what to do next.
If you’re ready to, there are a series of steps to take when a crime like this happens. The steps will ensure that the proper actions are taken, justice is served, and you get the resources you need to help you finish your degree and move forward as healthily as you can.
Take a deep breath, and here’s your first step
First and foremost, once you are in a safe place you should report the sexual assault crime to the city or town police. They will be instrumental in ensuring steps take place that provide you with safety and comfort while on campus and wherever the crime occurred. The police will also help you press charges against the assaulter.
Then if you choose, you can report the crime to your school. Most schools have systems in place to combat sexual assault and will be more than willing to get involved. This could include therapeutic resources, support groups, or maybe moving you to another area on campus. If the abuser was a student at your same school, the university should also launch an investigation and punish or expel the student who was involved in sexual abuse.
If you want to ensure the crime is handled appropriately, we advise that you do not ONLY report the crime to the school or university. While we wish it weren’t true, unfortunately the school’s process may not provide the best process for you as a whole and likely will not provide you with all the avenues to justice that are available to you.
Certainly, your school should have sexual assault resources and likely some free counseling options to help you. These are great resources that should certainly be taken advantage of.
The school may also conduct an investigation, however - and while their investigation should still seek the truth, their investigation will also likely involve lawyers on behalf of the university, and one of the lawyers’ jobs will be to help protect the university, college, or school in the process of investigating the sexual assault.
This means that the school certainly will help you, but they likely won’t inform you of all your legally available options -- they may not tell you the actions you can take against the assaulter, and they may not inform you of the actions you can legally take against the school or all the resources you’re entitled to from the school.
What can the Florida school do when you report a case of sexual assault - on behalf of yourself or someone else?
The school is obligated under Florida law to help you continue to pursue your degree in any way possible and make you feel safe in doing so. They are able to provide you with a different class schedule, different housing, or even a no contact order that will allow you to feel safe and comfortable while taking your courses and attending school functions that you would normally go to.
Different schools may have other resources available such as free counseling, connection to therapeutic resources or peer support groups.
What can the police do when you report sexual assault on a college campus?
Sexual battery and sexual abuse crimes are serious crimes in the state of Florida. Sexual assault and battery are punishable by hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences.
If you are the victim of sexual abuse on a college campus, the police can get involved to ensure your future safety as well as the safety of others on campus.
What if the school and police aren’t doing enough to help you?
If the school or the police are not doing enough in order to ensure your future safety and comfort, the first thing you need to do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area.
A lawyer will be able to guide you through the intricacies of your case and the crime in question and be able to handle all of the paperwork regarding the school and the police. They will be able to help you know what to expect (and demand) from the police concerning your sexual assault case, as well as the school - they can make sure that everyone is doing what they need and they can also help you file for different types of restraining orders or protection orders and can help you bring charges against the assaulter.
If the school or the police simply won’t do enough to make sure you are safe, a lawyer can help and will fight until you feel comfortable continuing your degree at that school. Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, and if it does, it’s important to seek the proper help to make sure it never happens again, and that you feel as if the situation has been resolved from a legal standpoint.
If you want to learn more about sexual assault crimes, visit our sexual assault practice area page.
If you’d like to call us to see how we might be able to help, or even if you’d just like to get a bit of advice on how to move forward, we’re here to help.