Note: This page is intended for survivors in the K-12 school system. If you are a student, parent, or guardian who would like more information on ways to help, please click here for our guide, created in collaboration with Surviving in Numbers. If you would like information on ways the VRLC can help with general education law in Massachusetts and Oregon, please click here.
|What do these words mean?||Are my feelings normal?|
|What if I'm worried about telling someone?||What about school?||Where can I get more information?|
How Do I Talk About What I Experienced?
Sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking are a different experience for every survivor. Much of what we know about violence we learn from depictions in the media or from textbooks in school. The violence you experienced may look different than what you’ve seen in those examples, and you may not know what to call your experience. Because no act of violence looks the same and we all experience it differently, we have provided definitions to help you navigate your experience.
Many survivors of violence, especially young survivors, may not know whether to report the violence they experienced, to whom they can report, or what their options are if they do choose to report. Young survivors may also have unique concerns relating to their privacy, safety, school, and more. Each survivor may have a different response to what they experience, and your response is a normal response to something that should not have happened to you.
If you still don’t think that these fully cover your experience, that’s also okay and does not mean that your feelings about it are wrong. Each person responds to violence differently, and these, even when they vary from person to person, are normal responses to things that should not have happened.
What Do I Do About School?
Experiencing sexual violence at a young age can be devastating, and can impact every area of a person's life, including their educational trajectory. Sexual violence can also bring up many concerns around issues such as privacy and safety, and as a young survivor (or parent of a young survivor), you may be unsure of where to begin in addressing these concerns.
As a survivor, you have the right to an education free from violence, and an environment in which you are safe and can learn. There are multiple laws that can be useful to consider as you move forward. A few are detailed below:
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, formerly No Child Left Behind) - victims of violent crimes must be allowed to transfer schools
Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Section 504 - schools must provide necessary accommodations for disabled students
Title IX - you have the right to an education without gender-based or sexual discrimination, can choose whether or not to report sexual violence, and will be able to access all services available for victims of sexual violence
You Are Not Alone.
If you’ve experienced sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and/or stalking, it is important that you know you are not alone. Almost half of the survivors of these crimes are under the age of 18.