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For a law passed in 1972, Title IX has been in the news a lot in recent years.
As sexual assault and other sex crimes have gained more attention in the media, Title IX laws have increasingly been expanded and discussed (under both the Obama and Trump administrations).
These laws were originally designed to protect children at our schools from sex-based discrimination but they have become synonymous with the sexual assault of children within the education system. They apply to all educational institutions that receive federal funding and this covers the vast majority of schools, colleges and universities in the country.
In recent years, we have seen how widespread the problem of sexual assault on campus is. According to a 2020 report by the Association of American Universities, 13 percent of graduate and undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. That’s more than one in eight students.
While sexual assault is rife amongst female students, male students are far from immune. Male college-aged students (18-24) are 78 percent more likely than non-students of the same age to be a victim of rape or sexual assault.
Furthermore, amongst female students aged 18-24, only 20 percent report the assault to law enforcement, according to the Department of Justice.
Sexual assault is a form of sexual violence where an individual subjects a victim to unwanted sexual contact.
It encompasses a broad range of undesirable behavior from rape to unwanted touching or the threat of using force during a sexual act.
Under Maine law, the victim does not need to resist and, even if there are no physical threats made to the victim, it may be classified as sexual assault. Sexual contact based on any type of threat—whether physical or otherwise—is classified as sexual assault.
The laws in Maine also protect individuals against sexual assault in relationships, sometimes referred to as “partner rape”, “marital rape” or “domestic violence”.
Unfortunately, this is often not reported because victims often feel that the justice system cannot protect them. Some individuals are not even aware that they have legal options available if they are assaulted by their partners.
Sexual assault—whether reported to the authorities or not—may have a lasting impact on the victim.
Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbance and suicidal thoughts are just some of the typical after-effects of sexual assault.
These effects can, in turn, impact the ability to maintain personal relationships and may affect the victim’s future employment and/or social life.
By law, all educational institutions that receive federal funding in Maine must have policies and procedures in place that help to prevent sexual assault and provide a means for victims to report incidents under Title IX.
The Clery Act also dictates that schools must provide crime statistics and safety policies to the public.
Yet many institutions still do not accurately disclose rape statistics nor indicate how these matters are resolved.
This environment of secrecy and protectionism must be addressed if sexual assault figures on campuses are to be reduced.
Students can help prevent sexual assault by educating themselves about what constitutes sexual assault. They should also be aware of the warning signs of sexual assault as well as the typical signs exhibited by a person who is a victim of assault.
Students should ensure they know how to report an incident if they witness it, suspect it, or if it happens to them.
Students may also want to consider enrolling in campus programs or workshops that promote awareness of sexual assault and provide techniques for reducing the risks.
Apart from complying with the mandatory regulations under Title IX, colleges and universities in Maine must search for more effective ways to reduce the instances of sexual violence on campus.
Hiring security guards can help to protect students on campus from a variety of potential threats, including sexual assault. Taking steps to ensure that students don’t travel alone is also important.
Colleges and universities can also provide more educational courses for students to promote awareness of sexual assault and learn about safety and reduce the risk of assault.
Institutions should also provide individual counseling, confidential group sessions, and hotlines in case of emergencies.
Parents of students can educate themselves about the warning signs of sexual assault so that they can better recognize problems of this nature.
Parents should also ensure that their children are aware of what constitutes inappropriate sexual behavior and what the “boundaries” are, and make sure that their children understand what to do if they are assaulted.
If you have been sexually assaulted on campus, it is important not to just try to “deal with it”.
A crime has been committed against you and you need to address it so that the perpetrator is brought to justice. This can also help you process the incident and move forward without it affecting the rest of your life.
If you have been sexually assaulted, you may not immediately be able to think straight. However, try to follow these steps:
A sexual assault is a traumatic time for victims—and the after-effects can extend far into the future. It can be difficult to resume normal activities and academic responsibilities and victims should be allowed adequate recovery time.
Students may pursue disciplinary action against the perpetrator through their college or university.
According to Title IX provisions, colleges and universities must respond to reports of sexual violence immediately.
However, victims sometimes feel that the local authorities are more interested in protecting their reputation than punishing their attacker and will often give an employee or another student the “benefit of the doubt”.
This is unacceptable. If the school does not follow through with the legal assistance required, you can take legal action of your own accord by hiring a sexual assault attorney to file a case.
In addition to professional medical care and counselling, professional legal assistance can help you draw a line under your experience and move on with your life. It also helps bring awareness of the seriousness of the problem to other students in the institution.
If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with
one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys
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