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Intimate Partner Violence & Title IX

Felice and Cristine standing in suits

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Title IX

  • Case Results
  • Testimonials
  • List of Schools

Case Results

Here are some representative results we’ve achieved for our clients.

Female complainant’s rights, health, and safety protected throughout lengthy proceedings

Our client was sexually assaulted by a male student acquaintance. We became involved to support our client in getting proper medical treatment, preserving and collecting evidence and witness testimony, and securing therapeutic support. We helped her understand and navigate the many complex options available to her, including a criminal complaint, an informal complaint process, a formal complaint process, or doing nothing. We guided her through the informal process and then the formal process, including interviews with various school and law enforcement officials, and worked closely with the school to put in place appropriate accommodations ensuring that all interviews and hearings did not retraumatize her. The male student was found responsible and was expelled.

Large private university

Witness to sexual violence protected from intimidation

We represented a female witness to a dating violence case on campus who was being pressured to speak with the police and the school investigators about a violent matter she had witnessed on her dorm floor. We immediately communicated on her behalf to the local police, school administrators, and the Title IX investigators to protect her right to choose to not testify and ensure her safety on campus. She was very relieved not to be pressured by the school, the title IX office or the police to attend the hearing and testify about fellow students.

Small private college

Investigation of sexual assault complaint concludes with no charges filed

Our client contacted us immediately upon receiving notice by his school that a claim of sexual assault was made against him by a female student. We assisted him in preparing his detailed answer to the complaint, and then prepared him and accompanied him to his interview with the campus safety police officers. We worked with the school Title IX administrators and helped our client find evidence to show inconsistencies with the complaint. The complainant withdrew her complaint when presented with these inconsistencies and then recanted. The investigation ended and our client was not charged with anything.

Midsized private college

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Client Testimonials

"I am writing to let any college student who gets accused of something serious by their school know that they need a lawyer like Felice Duffy to defend them.  I was accused of something terrible by a student that I would never do and didn’t do.  Even though I knew exactly what actually happened, I was very scared that my university might not find me innocent. It was terrifying to think that I might lose my full basketball scholarship or could have been suspended or expelled and that me and my family’s name could have gotten a horrible reputation.

I can’t even put into words how I excited I was when I got the letter from the school that cleared me completely of the charges against me and I have Felice to thank for that 100%. Since I’m not in Connecticut, Felice and her investigator used video conferencing to interview me and my witnesses, talk with my parents, and get me fully prepared for every meeting I had with my school.  They got all my texts and email that proved my innocence and organized them perfectly for the Dean and the discipline committee.

Felice was always very direct and respectful even though the subject matter was very personal, and she was always ahead of the school in terms of getting me and them important information at every step.  It was like having the best scouting report ever." Felice obviously knows her stuff but she also deeply cares.  You can tell that she loves the work she’s doing to help college kids in really difficult situations."

College Sophomre, Colorado

“I hired Duffy Law in the middle of a Title IX sexual assault proceeding. While I had initially retained another attorney on a recommendation, it turns out they did not have much insight to the inner workings of university policy, which I learned is NOT required to follow the basic laws of due process. Felice was absolutely incredible, and as an athlete, she understood my thought process and feelings the entire way. This is what stood out the most to me. At the beginning of my school’s adjudication process, I was an absolute mess. Not only is Felice extremely knowledgeable in law and how school adjudication processes work, but she also really does care about her clients and their well-being.

It was initially extremely tough for me to speak about what I was facing. Felice was able to assist me not only in compiling the proper evidence and responding to the school, but also put me in the right state of mind to defend myself and move on with my life after it was all completed. Prior to hiring Duffy Law, I was concerned that I would be relegated to working with a legal assistant or secretary being that my case was in a college setting as opposed to a state court. However, Felice always found a way to make time and was there every step of the way.

I feel like an important part of hiring an attorney is being able to trust them to fight for you no matter what the scenario may be and you can rest assured you will be getting that with Duffy Law. I would recommend Felice Duffy of Duffy Law 10 times out of 10 to anyone that may be put in a tough situation like I was”

Female College Freshman, Massachusetts

“The claims leveled against me were terrible, but the wonderful news is that I was fully cleared of all the allegations because of the outstanding work Christine Brown and the team at Duffy Law did on my behalf. The first thing that really impressed me was that from the very first call Christine quickly understood what was going on and was able to read between the lines to understand the complicated dynamics of the situation. Despite my entire career being spent in academia, I didn't know much about Title IX procedures. Her expertise and knowledge of the process was immediately apparent and critically helpful in guiding me and giving me as much peace of mind as possible..

Christine knew how to spot the important subtext throughout the process and made sure I understood the strategic options I had at every stage going forward. I felt very confident in the decisions we made together. I felt vindicated by the decision and that this situation will have no further effects on my career. I am very grateful to Christine and Duffy Law for guiding me through this stressful process and recommend them without reservation to any faculty member facing a similarly challenging situation. ”

Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine at a midwest university

“When your kid is accused of a serious conduct code violation at his college, you quickly learn that there’s a whole different set of rules in place than in the real world. There are no legal standards, no assurances of a “fair trial.” You’re presumed guilty and you have to backtrack and prove why you’re NOT guilty. We pretty quickly realized that we needed strong legal representation and guidance. Our son was completely falsely accused and we were ready to dig in to clear his name.

Duffy Law’s truly unique background and deep experience with navigating the school’s process was amazing. They made it clear that our son was the client, not us (his parents). They worked with him extensively and earned his total trust. He felt empowered that he had the right people in his corner to defend him. They gave our whole family a sense a calm and confidence.

Thanks to incredibly hard work by Felice and her team, our son was found “not responsible” (meaning innocent of any wrongdoing). The outcome was everything we could have hoped for. I have already recommended Duffy Law to a friend who’s son was caught up in a serious, very complicated conduct code charge, and I will continue to recommend them to any student or parent without reservation.”

Parent of a male southwest private college senior

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Schools Where We've Handled Cases

Here are some of the schools where we’ve represented students, faculty, coaches, and staff:

  • Amherst College
  • Arkansas State University
  • Bard College
  • Bates College
  • Belmont Abbey College
  • Black Hills State University
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Brandeis University
  • Brown University
  • Cal State Polytechnic University
  • Campbell University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Central Connecticut State University
  • Charter Oak State College
  • Colgate University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Colorado State University
  • Columbia University
  • Connecticut College
  • Creighton Law School
  • Dartmouth College
  • Dartmouth Medical School
  • Elim Bible Institute and College
  • Emmanuel College
  • Fairfield University
  • Flagler College
  • Florida State University
  • Fordham University
  • Furman University
  • George Fox University
  • Guilford College
  • Howard University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Indiana University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • LaSalle University
  • Lesley University
  • Long Island University
  • Louisiana State University
  • Marist College
  • Marquette University
  • Miami University
  • Michigan State University
  • Mississippi University
  • Mount St. Mary's University
  • New College of Florida
  • Nichols College
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Pittsburgh State University
  • Plymouth State University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rice University
  • Sacred Heart University
  • South Carolina State University
  • Southern Connecticut State University
  • St. John's University
  • St. Lawrence University
  • Syracuse University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Tallahassee Comm. College
  • Texas A&M Univiersity
  • Touro University
  • Trinity College
  • Tufts University
  • University of Buffalo
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Hartford
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Lynchburg
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Mass. Med. School
  • University of Miami
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of New Haven
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • University of Pittsburg
  • University of Redlands California
  • University of Rhode Island
  • University of Texas Austin
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
  • University of Wyoming
  • Utah University School of Medicine
  • Vance-Granville Community College
  • Vassar College
  • Virginia Wesleyan University
  • Washington University, St. Louis
  • Wesleyan University
  • Westfield State University
  • Western Connecticut State University
  • Western Washington University
  • Wheaton College
  • William Smith College
  • Yale University
  • Youngstown State University

Anyone who attends an educational institution or works for one should know about Title IX and its protections against sex discrimination in education. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in various educational settings and programs. Specifically, this federal law states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” As you may know, Title IX also provides protections against sexual harassment and sexual assault as forms of sex discrimination. Under Title IX, colleges and universities must develop policies for handling Title IX complaints, must have clear procedures for students to file Title IX complaints, and must have a Title IX coordinator.

Many students, faculty, and staff are familiar with Title IX as a result of sexual misconduct policies and hearings at colleges and universities. While sexual misconduct is defined in various ways by educational institutions, it is important to know that intimate partner violence (IPV) can — be and often is– considered to be a form of sex discrimination in violation of Title IX. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that many different issues are involved in Title IX cases pertaining to intimate partner violence, and it is critical to understand how your school defines it.

What is Intimate Partner Violence?

In general, any kind of violence or abuse that occurs between people who are in a dating relationship can affect both male and female students. To be sure, relationship violence, or dating or domestic violence, can be perpetrated by male and female students at a college or university. Likewise, people who are harmed by dating abuse or domestic violence are both male and female.

While many common narratives of sexual misconduct prohibited under Title IX involve parties who are not in intimate or dating relationships with one another, it is important to know that Title IX also provides protections against intimate partner violence, or IPV. Whether you have been subject to intimate partner violence or have been accused of it, it is important to understand how your particular institution defines it in order to prepare for a Title IX case.

Learning More About Intimate Partner Violence on College Campuses

The following information from the Association of Title IX Administrators provides historical facts and data about intimate partner violence and Title IX cases on college campuses:

  • About 43 percent of women report that they have experienced “some violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, tech, verbal, or controlling abuse”
  • Approximately 22 percent of college women report that they have experienced “actual physical abuse, sexual abuse, or threats of physical violence”
  • More than 50 percent of college students say that they have difficulty identifying “dating abuse”
  • More than 21 percent of students report that they have experienced “dating violence by a current partner while in college”
  • More than 40 percent of LGBTQ students in college indicate that they have “experienced intimate partner violence in their current relationships”

While each of these statistics provides information about potential sexual misconduct allegations on college or university campuses, the specific language in each data point may not be defined as intimate partner violence by a particular institution (but instead may fall into a different definition or classification).

The Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence on College Campuses

Despite campaigns to raise awareness, efforts at prevention, and public penalties imposed on perpetrators, intimate partner violence remains a serious problem on college campuses affecting a vast number of students.

Statistics on Campus Dating Violence

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), a staggering 29%–one out of every three–female college students report that they have been in an abusive relationship with a dating partner. The organization also relates that 52% of women in college have a friend who has endured violent or abusive dating behaviors such as:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Digital harassment
  • Verbal harassment
  • Controlling behaviors

While many organizations have observed that women of college age are at the greatest risk of sexual violence regardless of their status as a student or their residence in a campus setting, the NDVH notes that of college students who experienced violence in dating, 57% reported that the violence occurred while they were in college.

Moreover, a disturbing number of college students, more than half, said they find it difficult to identify dating abuse, which means the actual instances of intimate partner violence could be substantially higher.

How the Numbers Compare to the Off-Campus World 

The dating and domestic violence figures for women off campus, while not encouraging, can be seen as slightly better than for women in a college environment. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which operates the National Domestic Violence Hotline, reports that one out of every four women in the U.S. have suffered through severe intimate partner violence, and one out of every seven women has been injured by an intimate partner.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that sexual violence is the most prevalent crime on college campuses. There are twice as many sexual assaults against women reported on campus than there are robberies. By contrast, robbery is the more prevalent crime when the population of women is considered as a whole. In the general population, women report 20% more robberies than sexual assaults.

RAINN statistics also point to significantly high rates of sexual violence on campus. The organization reports that 13% of college students have experienced rape or sexual assault involving the use of force, and over 26% of undergraduate females experience this type of serious sexual violence. In addition, over 23% of TGQN college students have also reported being sexually assaulted. While these statistics cover situations beyond intimate partner violence, nearly half of all rape victims nationwide were victimized by someone they knew.

Prevention and intervention efforts on campus should potentially be concentrated in the fall. RAINN statistics show that more than half of all sexual assaults on college campuses occur between August and November. In addition, students face an increased risk of sexual assault during the first few months of their first two semesters in college, so it is particularly important to educate new students about the dangers and the resources available if they face intimate partner violence or other forms of sexual violence. 

Varying College and University Definitions of Intimate Partner Violence

From institution to institution, the specific definition of intimate partner violence can vary. Accordingly, it is critical to understand how your specific institution defines it if you plan to file a Title IX complaint related to intimate partner violence or you need to defend against allegations.

For example, Swarthmore College defines intimate partner violence as including “dating violence, domestic violence, and relationship violence,” and explains that it can be characterized as “any act of violence or threatened act of violence against a person who is, or has been involved in, a sexual, dating, domestic, or other intimate relationship with that person.” Swarthmore further clarifies that intimate partner violence can “encompass a broad range of behavior, including, but not limited to, physical violence and sexual violence.” According to Swarthmore’s policy, IPV can take the form of threats, assault, property damages, and violence or threats of violence.

Differently, Trinity College draws distinctions among domestic violence, dating violence, and intimate partner violence. Trinity College specifically defines intimate partner violence as “any physical or sexual harm against an individual by a current or former spouse of, or person in a dating relationship with, such individual that results from any action by such spouse or such person that may be classified as a sexual assault, stalking, or family violence.”

You will want to understand the precise definition of IPV at your college or university as you seek assistance with your case.

Seeking Legal Advice from a National Title IX Attorney

Intimate partner violence is a serious issue on college and university campuses, and anyone who has been the victim of IPV or has been accused of engaging in prohibited behaviors knows how difficult these cases can be. In most college and university settings, allegations of intimate partner violence can result in a Title IX complaint, an investigation conducted by the Title IX coordinator, and a hearing after the investigation has been completed. In general, the complainant and the respondent are each permitted to have an advocate with them, and that advocate can be a national Title IX lawyer with experience handling similar cases. It is extremely important to know how the Title IX process works at your institution, and what policies your college or university has put in place to move through a Title IX allegation, investigation, and hearing.

If you have questions about your rights or need legal assistance, you should get in touch with one of the national Title IX attorneys at Duffy Law, LLC. We are highly experienced lawyers who serve clients across the country in Title IX cases. Contact Duffy Law, LLC for more information about how we can help you with your case.

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