Boarding School Abuse

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Private School Abuse presents a range of criminal and improper activities frequently committed against students by school faculty members, administrators or employees regarding sexual assault of varying degrees. The assault can be a one-time, non-consensual attack or it may involve many assaults within an continuing interaction. For example, an continuing intimate encounter with a student, created by the predatory behavior of a faculty member, school administrator or staff and whether leading to physical consensual sex acts or not, is a form of abuse.

Student on student sexual assault is an additional form of abuse, which might be compounded by the school’s negligence to provide a safe environment that allowed the assault to happen. Within the school population are students of different ages, maturity and experiences. Younger students might be exposed to the predatory behavior of older, more mature students. Their behavior, coupled with peer-pressure applied to both the attacker and the targeted victim, might lead to different types of abuse including sexual assault of varying degrees.

In all reported Boarding School Assault situations, a school administration’s megligence to completely, immediately report the assault to law enforcement and other authorities, or its further failure to investigate, address and deal fully with the matter amplifies the effects on the victim, the school community and possibly others. Recent Boarding School Abuse cases reported in the media exemplify these failures, including matters when the perpetrator quietly leaves the campus only to assume employment somewhere else in a school environment.

Predatory Behavior
Many private schools pride themselves on their small, personal communities inside a well-defined and safe campus. In that environment, faculty, administrators and staff are often much closer and familiar with students than would be expected in a non-boarding school setting. This could provide both opportunity and cover to the would-be attacker and for the predatory behavior.

In some matters, the attacker could be a personable and popular individual, generally thought to be a positive addition to the school community. A targeted student could feel flattered that a well-liked superior in the school community has expressed special interest in him or her. Because of this popularity and involvement into the school community, abuse accusations against these abusers are frequently met with doubt, non-belief, and resistance from the community. Often, abusers have distance and judgment problems which turn into oddly friendly relationships with students that are beyond what are commonly anticipated. This provides a predatory path and opportunity for the abuse.

All abusers, to varying amounts, employ predatory actions that are generally known as “grooming,” or targeting a possible abuse victim. Below is a compilation of grooming behaviors exhibited by predators who are in a position of authority in relation to the subordinate student.

Grooming
Grooming is a main part of a predator’s method. In a boarding school setting, a predator often works closely with small numbers of students, understanding each student’s needs and vulnerabilities. Once a victim is located and selected, these vulnerabilities – like loneliness, low self-esteem, emotional neediness, or attention seeking behavior, may be systematically exploited in the following ways:

Trust

A predator could first work to gain the student’s trust. This step is most difficult to discern as boarding school communities are usually tight-knit and personal interaction is commonplace. Here, the predator is usually part of a group of staff who are genuinely interested in the student’s wellness and achievement at the school.
Reliance
As a predator establishes a trusting relationship with the potential student-victim, the student might begin to rely more and more on the predator for any need it is that the predator is exploiting and fulfilling. The student may spend more time with the predator, feeling more and more comfortable with the relationship. In addition to attention and kindness, the possible victim might receive gifts from the predator, including valuable, gifts like the guarantee of higher marks, or a college recommendation letter. The reliance step is mainly when the predatory behavior is distinguishable from well-meaning collegial behavior.

Isolation

As the grooming continues, the predator will work to isolate the potential victim. At school, this might mean after-hour get togethers, tutoring sessions, meetings in the dorm , one-on-one athletic training sessions, or various other such circumstances.
Sexualization
The predator will start to de-sensitize the possible victim from reacting negatively to contact, caressing and other actions that lead to sexual interaction. This might start with breaking the physical-touch barrier, or communicating, with suggestive language to determine the victim’s reaction to the advancement. This could increase until the relationship transforms to one of a physical, sexual nature.
Maintenance
As the sexual relationship is established, the predator may try to maintain control over the victim and the continuing abuse. The predator will likely try to manipulate the victim by inducing emotions of shame, or even threats, or use the opposite tactic of continuing to have the victim feel special and desired. Regardless, the predator will keep trying to exploit the victim with means available to maintain the inappropriate physical relationship.

Impacts on Abuse Survivors

When the grooming increases as intended by the predator, the targeted student, being made to feel special, will likely respond affirmatively to the behaviors. The predator, through these well-thought-out and performed grooming behaviors and activities, seeks to re-work and reduce the moral confines of the victim. Because the abuse survivor participated in this re-calibration, she often experiences deep feelings of shame, initially blaming herself for the incident and likely not to report it.

Additionally, beyond the abuse has been revealed, survivors of private school abuse are frequently exposed to discreet social pressure and intimidation, such as being bullied, isolation from their peers, or revenge from teachers. Especially at private schools, where academics are stringent, competition can be intense and social circles small, victims of abuse might be rapidly isolated and socially abused. Exposed to those reactions, many boarding school abuse victims who have revealed the abuse leave school. Others, faced with the prospect of the isolation and social abuse, report the abuse decades later. In either situation, the impact can be severe and life-altering.

Some abuse survivors suffer from long-term effects of the abuse including depression, anxiety, ptsd, low self-esteem, suicidal feelings, substance abuse, restless sleeping and eating patterns, and trouble establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. Individual therapy and support groups can assist victims overcome those effects.

Legally, a victim of boarding school abuse could recover financial compensation from the predator and more frequently, from the school for its failure to protect the student from the predator, as well as failures or deficiencies in its method of reviewing and replying to the survivor’s report of the abuse. If you are a survivor of boarding school abuse and would like to confidentially share your situation and learn of your legal options at no cost or obligation, we are prepared to talk with you. It’s important for a survivor to remember that experiencing assault is not your fault. The lawyers at Meneo Law Group are committed to bringing those who committed the the abuse to justice.