Sexual abuse by clergy. Sexual attacks on seniors in nursing homes. Sexual assaults on children by their own parents.
If you follow the news, you know that sexual abuse cases are everywhere. And now, this terrible trend has made its way onto college campuses. In recent weeks alone, two cases of sexual abuse by university officials have been in the headlines:
- In mid-May, Ohio State University confirmed that a team doctor has sexually abused at least 177 men – including numerous varsity athletes – while working for the university for three decades, beginning in the 1970s.
- A few weeks later, a doctor at a University of California, Los Angeles student health center was charged with two counts of sexual battery, stemming from accusations made by two patients who received care at the center. A number of former patients have since contacted UCLA to complain about inappropriate conduct by the same doctor.
As these stories were breaking, Michigan State University announced the selection of a new president, chosen in the wake of the most extensive university sexual abuse scandal of them all – former campus doctor Larry Nassar’s molestation of hundreds of female gymnasts and other athletes under the guise of treatment.
A Culture of Indifference
Despite all of this attention, many students and school officials say that a culture of indifference to sexual assault continues to exist on college campuses.
While the reasons for this indifference vary, many point to the fact that universities have fragmented channels for reporting sexual abuse. While some victims may call the police, others go to the hospital, seek counseling at a sexual assault center, or simply tell a friend or faculty member – all of which diminishes the extent of the problem.
Even when action is taken, discipline is often light or nonexistent, leaving victims to deal with the emotional, physical, and financial consequences of the abuse while those they hold responsible walk away.
What You Can Do to Help
If you are a friend or family member of a sexual abuse victim, there are several steps you can take to support them.
- Be Patient: Recognize that recovery is a long process that is never truly over.
- Listen: Let your loved one know you’re willing to listen – when they are ready to talk. Don’t pressure them to “open up.” Just knowing you are there can be enough.
- Be a Partner: Let your loved one know you will remain by their side as they work their way through their feelings.
- Encourage: While it is up to your loved one to make decisions about their own healing process, encourage them to get support when they’re ready.
You might also recommend contacting an attorney who can discuss the victim’s legal rights. The attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have handled hundreds of sexual abuse cases. Talk to them today. It’s free and you pay nothing unless we win. Call 800-749-0444.