Hazing activities refer to dangerous and often abusive initiation rituals used for admission into a group, such as a sports team or fraternity or sorority. Despite being prohibited by most schools, hazing continues to take place secretly on thousands of campuses each year. The effects of hazing go far beyond basic bullying. Hazing can be psychologically detrimental, extremely physically harmful and even deadly for victims.
Hazing rituals are often designed to subject recruits to extreme physical, emotional and psychological duress. They often involve tests or abuse of a physical nature, such as branding, whipping, hitting, beating or paddling victims. Hazing may also involve forced calisthenics for extended periods of time. Barbaric hazing rituals can result in many forms of physical trauma, such as:
- Blunt-force trauma
- Broken bones
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Suffocation or aspiration
- Brain injuries or brain damage
- Bruising and contusions
- Internal injuries
- Severe burns
- Electric shocks
- Facial or eye injuries
- Hearing damage
- Drug or alcohol poisoning
- Sleep deprivation
- Excessive fatigue
- Heat stroke
Many hazing injuries are severe to catastrophic and have lasting effects on a victim. Traumatic injuries can permanently damage a victim’s body, resulting in issues such as chronic pain, mobility problems, organ damage or disabilities far into the future. They can also cause significant scarring or disfigurement. Many hazing injuries require emergency care. In the worst cases, hazing injuries can be fatal.
Sadly, hazing often involves some form of sexual assault or abuse. The victim may be kidnapped and restrained against his or her will, for example, while one or more perpetrators engage in unwelcome or nonconsensual sex acts against the victim. Sexual abuse such as exposure of sexual organs, rape, sodomy, nonconsensual touching of the private parts, and inappropriate photographs or videos can be detrimental to a survivor in multiple ways. Victims of hazing sexual abuse often report post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, fear or anxiety, nightmares, and trouble with personal and romantic relationships in the future.
Emotional and Psychological Harm
Hazing does not only put a victim at risk of sustaining physical injuries. Hazing rituals are typically meant to demean, debase or degrade subjects, as well. Unfortunately, this can result in long-lasting mental and psychological harm. Incidents of hazing have been known to cause the following long-term mental health problems:
- Extreme stress
- Forced exclusion from social contact
- Embarrassment or humiliation
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Chronic anxiety
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
The psychological side of hazing is often hidden, but can be very powerful and damaging for the victim. Living through the traumatic experience of hazing can cause long-term emotional scarring, trust issues, eating disorders, cutting or self-harm, and suicide.
Damage to the Victim’s Future
The risks associated with hazing rituals should not be underestimated. Hazing can put a victim through enormous physical and emotional turmoil, taking a great toll on the victim in more ways than one. A survivor may struggle to form bonds and trust others after his or her traumatic experience, for example, getting in the way of future relationships. The victim might have also dropped out of school or performed poorly because of hazing, marring his or her transcripts and potentially making it difficult to get into other schools or find work. This can ultimately impact the victim’s reputation and career.
What to Do if You Are a Victim of Hazing in Kansas
If you or a loved one is a victim of hazing in Kansas, you have legal rights and recovery options. You may be entitled to financial compensation for many of your past, current and future foreseeable losses. This could include medical bills, counseling and therapy, prescription medications, lost wages and earning opportunities, and pain and suffering. You and your family may be able to hold one or more parties responsible for failing to protect you from hazing, such as a school or sports organization,
For more information, contact a sexual assault lawyer at DRZ Law to discuss the possibility of filing a lawsuit against one or more parties for the long-term effects and ramifications of hazing.