Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

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Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby charlie90 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 11:55 pm

I realize this might sound like, depending on one's personal views and/or political persuasion, an example of a millennial snowflake, but it is a legitimate question: My criminal law class is heavily focused on the MPC and, of the few actual types of crimes we are reviewing, rape and sexual assault is a large chunk of our course. Although it is early in the semester, after talking with my professor during office hours and from the frequent references to the statute(s), I see that the MPC's take on sexual assault is theoretically interesting to my professor.

But I am a rape victim. While discussions of sexual violence as it relates to the MPC now don't seem to be in-depth (since we have not read any cases concerning it, though it is planned for mid-way through the semester) and don't exactly bother me, I'd rather not have mental breakdown or flashbacks to my own assault during a more stressful part of the semester.

So, to my actual question(s):
- Should I just skip class the days that he teaches the cases on sexual violence (and avoid reading the relevant cases' facts)? Talk to the professor?
- Hope that if there is another question about sexual violence on his exam (there was one last year) that I will just read over it unemotionally?
- Go back to therapy because I was "fine" but might re-traumatize myself and be afraid of random men (which is bad for being a law school student, as many law students are male and likely people I don't know)?

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Re: Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby 4LTsPointingNorth » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:16 am

The correct response is to go to therapy (even if only just to discuss questions like the ones you're posting on these forums with someone more qualified to help you work through them), talk these questions through, and decide on a course of action that works for you.

A more immediate response: one option is to speak with your professor and ask that he either doesn't cold call you on the days that sexual violence is discussed (if you feel comfortable being in the classroom) or that he records the classes so you can engage with the material at a time and place of your choosing.

As for the exam, that just may be a scenario in which you will have to prepare for the worst case scenario. Sexual violence is an aspect of criminal law, and if your professor has a particular academic interest in laws and fact patterns touching on that subject, then you may need to white-knuckle through it. Writing extra practice exams on the subject and discussing your feelings with a therapist afterwards may help you best prepare for the possibility of such an exam question.

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Re: Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby renc56 » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:02 pm

I'm curious on how to approach this too, but I guess reaching out to the professor and any trusted administrators (?) might be helpful? Plus counseling.

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Re: Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby dianersg » Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:20 pm

My professor didn't cold call on sexual assault and I know many won't, especially if you tell them you don't want to be called on. Before you talk him though (if you decided to so), you should check on the reporting policy at your school. At my school, if you tell a professor you are a sexual assault victim they have to report it, so my crim professor told us to talk to non-reporting members of the staff if we were uncomfortable and they could work with her to develop a solution that would allow us to learn the material in the least traumatic way possible.

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Re: Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby mino » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:42 pm

I had similar questions when I was a 1L. I went to therapy and specifically asked for strategies that could help me be present in class and learn while at the same time managing any triggers that came up. My therapist was incredibly helpful and helped me to come up with several strategies that I could use (even in class) to help me get everything I wanted out of the class while managing everything that came with it.

I highly highly recommend seeing a therapist, explaining what you're worried about and what your goals are, and work with them to come up with strategies that can help you. This is an incredibly tough situation to be in and you're not alone in struggling with what to do. Even taking proactive steps to think about your mental health in a situation like this is something many of us don't do enough of and I personally think it was brave of you to reach out for advice. Feel free to pm me if you want to chat more - happy to share more offline.

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Re: Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby UBETutoring » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:10 pm

You may be able to request an accommodation if you speak with the Dean of Student Affairs. It sounds like you may have some mild PTSD issues, and should be accommodated. If you notice, the bar does not frequently test on rape/sexual assault, possibly for this reason.


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Re: Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby Tony48 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 5:56 pm

I would probably speak to my adviser first.

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Re: Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby JuTMSY4 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:42 pm

your client won't give you a trigger warning.


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Re: Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby edwardt1988 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:42 pm

JuTMSY4 wrote:your client won't give you a trigger warning.

What exactly is the purpose of this response? How would this topic ever come up in a great majority of law practices?


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Re: Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby SLS_AMG » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:09 am

I remember discussing this issue as a 1L and was told that the virtual unanimous practice is to not include rape questions on exams for this very reason. There were certainly no rape questions on my crim law final.


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Re: Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby arose928 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:55 pm

Yes if you are comfortable I would either talk with your professor and ask to not be cold called during those classes - and perhaps volunteer to be on call for other classes instead. I know my professor had a policy to not put sexual assault topics on the final and I would assume most others do as well. If you don't feel comfortable talking to your professor you could talk to student services/academic support, something like that.

But also, be prepared in general to encounter triggers in criminal law. They won't always necessarily be where you expect them to be. It is obviously a violent subject and it may not be the rape case that is triggering, but an assault case where they call into question the victim's credibility. It can pop up in different ways. So I would also echo what other folks' wrote and advise therapy so you have ways to manage your reaction when that does happen.


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Re: Dealing with Sexual Violence Topics in 1L Crim Class

Postby shock259 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:59 pm

My crim law class was very cognizant of this fact, and the topic was handled very carefully. It can be a challenging subject, but it's also very interesting one that brings in a lot of crim law components.

I think you should reach out to your professor, let him/her know that it will be a difficult subject for you, and see what he/she proposes.

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