What Is Sexual Hazing?
Despite a number of policies and rules passed to prevent hazing at schools, colleges and universities, it is still a prevalent problem. Sadly, many incidents of hazing – including sexual hazing – go unreported. Learning more about hazing, and the sexual assault and abuse that are often part of hazing rituals, can help you protect yourself and others.
Schools Have a Dark History of Sexual Abuse Through Hazing
Sexual hazing refers to forcing or requiring new initiates to undergo sexual harassment, assault or abuse to join a club, fraternity, sorority or sports team. While hazing is most common in college fraternities, it can be found in many different schools and settings, including high schools. Sadly, sexual hazing is more common than most parents think. Sexual abuse via hazing rituals can take many forms, such as:
- Inappropriately touching or groping initiates.
- Sexually assaulting, raping or sodomizing pledges.
- Forcing initiates to sexually abuse others to join the team or group.
- Forcing initiates to go through humiliating sex acts (or indecent exposure) to participate.
- Requiring physically abusive or sexually violating hazing activities.
- Enforcing personal servitude of a sexual nature.
- Encouraging alcohol consumption that leads to sexual assault or sexual violence.
Sexual hazing often stems from an abuse of power by older club or fraternity members, as well as an environment of hypermasculinity and sexual energy. Sexual hazing is a way to exert domination and control over pledges. Members of a fraternity may take on a mob mentality to commit sex crimes against initiates together. In many cases, abusers are past victims themselves. They may perpetuate harmful sexual hazing rituals in the newer class to rationalize what was done to them.
Your Legal Rights as a Victim of Sexual Hazing
If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual hazing in California, speak up. While it can be difficult to come forward, telling your story could save others from suffering the same crimes and immense trauma from violent sexual hazing incidents. It could even save a life, as there have been several instances of hazing violence that resulted in the death of the victim. Your school should have policies in place to respond to hazing complaints.
If you report sexual hazing and school authorities do not do anything to intervene or prevent future such incidents, you may be able to hold the school legally responsible for the trauma that you suffered. Schools that fail to acknowledge hazing or introduce anti-hazing policies can be held accountable for related incidents. The school may have to pay for a victim’s related medical bills, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, psychological trauma, and other losses.
How to Report Sexual Hazing or School Sexual Assault
Put your safety and health first as a victim of sexual hazing or school sexual assault. Go to a clinic or hospital for immediate medical care if you have been sexually assaulted. This can help you heal as well as document the incident through a sexual assault forensic exam. Document what happened in as much detail as possible, including the names of everyone involved and any eyewitnesses, the date and time of the crime, and its location. Then, report sexual hazing to school authorities without delay. Your school or college should have a protocol in place for how to report campus sexual hazing, including involving the police and taking punitive action against the perpetrators (such as expelling them).
How a Sexual Hazing Lawyer Can Help
When you’re ready to come forward with a sexual assault case against a school or another defendant, contact a sexual hazing lawyer in California to represent you during the legal process. A law firm can keep your identity confidential throughout the legal process as much as possible. A lawyer can help you take action against unethical and illegal acts of sexual degradation or assault that students commit as part of violent hazing rituals. A lawyer can also help you file a lawsuit against your school for failing to protect you or properly respond to allegations.
For more information about a case of sexual hazing, contact Manly, Stewart & Finaldi for a free and confidential legal consultation.