Are You A Victim Of A Sorority Or Fraternity Hazing?

Fraternity and sorority hazing rituals -- the act of subjecting new initiates to extreme, degrading, or physically punishing treatment as part of their induction into the organization -- were supposed to have stopped happening sometime after the 1978 movie "Animal House" stopped being popular. Unfortunately, fraternity and sorority hazing still happens, and young men and women get seriously injured as a result. If you're a victim of hazing, what should you know?

1.) Hazing is probably more common than you realize.

Some people are ashamed to come forward about injuries suffered during hazing -- the hazing rituals themselves are often meant to be degrading and embarrassing. You may not want to talk about a deeply humiliating event in front of an attorney, let alone in front of a judge or jury if the case goes that far.

However, you aren't alone. More than 60% of students involved in a social fraternity or sorority have experienced hazing of some form.

2.) Hazing can be a brutal event and lead to long-term injuries or death.

Hazing can involve silly stunts, like making male students walk around in women's heels for a day. Things like that are arguably benign (though often still illegal or banned). However, a lot of hazing activities are incredibly violent in nature:

  • paddling and beating can lead to things like brain damage and broken bones 
  • whippings can end up causing permanent bodily harm
  • being forced to endure extreme temperatures while doing physically demanding tasks can lead to dehydration, heat stroke, heart attacks, or frostbite and lost fingers
  • enduring fake abductions, degrading sexual acts, or other humiliations can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • burns and branding can leave permanent scars or lead to infections that cause further damage to your body
  • being forced to too much drink alcohol can result in brain damage, kidney damage, liver damage, drunken accidents, and death from alcohol poisoning

3.) Fraternities and sororities often know what is happening and don't stop it.

Hazing is illegal in 44 states, but cases continue to occur at an alarming rate. Even though advisers are aware of the problem about 1/4 of the time, they don't step in and stop it. Prosecution of cases can also be hampered by when victims insist that they acted of their own free will. The very fraternity house that inspired the "Animal House" movie was recently involved in a hazing incident where eleven members were branded -- and all eleven insist that they acted voluntarily.

4.) You can be repaid for your injuries through a civil lawsuit.

Hazing is a reckless act that totally disregards the safety of the victim, despite a high probability that the victim will end up injured. Even if the people involved avoid prosecution, you have the right to ask to be repaid for you injuries, pain, and suffering.

You may even be able to ask for punitive damages, which are designed to punish the people who did the hazing (or ignored the fact that it was happening) and serve as a warning to others. 

Depending on the circumstances of your case, the people responsible may include the actual students who hazed you, the fraternity or sorority, and even the school. If you've been a victim of hazing, talk to an attorney about your case as soon as possible. Learn more here.