Surviving sexual assault will affect many different parts of your life, including your academics and your social life. Remember that your school is there to help you; in fact, they have a duty to protect their students and ensure your safety. This may mean modifying your schedule or changing your living accommodations, if necessary. We will explore your school's duties and responsibilities in depth in the Title IX section.
Following a sexual assault, it is fairly common for survivors to withdraw for a semester or two, or to drop below a normal course load. As an international student, you are required to maintain a full-time course load. For this reason, you must go through additional procedures in order to withdraw or reduce your course load.
If you need to drop below a full-time course load, you will need approval from your Principal Designated School Official (PDSO) before reducing classes. If you do not have this, you are in danger of falling out of status and will be terminated in Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Remember that you are under no obligation to tell your PDSO about your sexual assault.
Your PDSO can permit you to reduce your course load for either academic or medical reasons. Academic reasons might include cultural adjustments to the American education system, including language adjustments. You can drop below a full course load only once per program for academic reasons, as long as you resume full-time studies the following semester. If your assailant is involved in your college community, it is recommended that you state that this is the direct cause of your academic difficulties.
Because sexual assault can have both physical and psychological repercussions, you can also cite medical reasons for reducing your course load. Medical reasons can only last for an aggregate of 12 months and require documentation from a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or a licensed clinical psychologist. This will require that you reveal your assault to your PDSO. It is especially important that you document any and all medical treatment you receive to use as evidence to support the medical case for your PDSO.
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Title IX means that your school is obligated to protect you in the event that you or someone you know is sexually assaulted.
This means that your school is federally obligated to make immediate and effective efforts to end sexual harassment and sexual violence. If your school fails to fulfill its responsibilities under Title IX, the Department of Education can impose a fine and potentially deny further institutional access to federal funds. Title IX applies to sex-based discrimination of anyone, regardless of their gender identity or perception. This means that you are protected under Title IX whether you are male, female, or gender non-conforming.
It's important to be aware of the rights that Title IX provides you. These rights include:
Sexual assault is an extremely traumatising experience, and everyone has different methods of coping. The most important thing to remember is that it is not your fault. If you have been assaulted and need help, there are a number of resources available to you, both on and off your campus. The healing process is difficult, and may take a long time, but you have a variety of options to help you along the way.