Advice for Sexual Assault Victims

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Cruise Ship Sexual Assault & Rape

According to the FBI, sexual assault is the leading crime reported and investigated on the high seas. It compromises 55 percent of the total reported crimes, according to a March 2007 statement by the agency before a Congressional subcommittee.

Be Proactive—Don’t Become a Victim

Traveling aboard a cruise ship affords a false sense of a small community among the passengers. The reality is that a cruise ship is a small floating city of strangers. As counter-intuitive as it may feel to the welcoming atmosphere you encounter as you board your cruise, you must treat a cruise ship as you would any unfamiliar environment. A good attorney understands that this is a target-rich environment for criminals and predators.

Following a few common sense rules suggested by our cruise lawyers can significantly increase both your safety and enjoyment on your vacation.

  • Always be sure to lock your door. Monitor your room keys and keep track of them at all times.
  • Do not open your door to anyone unexpected, including a ship crewmember.
  • Know where your children are at all times. Do not let them roam unsupervised or unattended. This makes them vulnerable.
  • Know where the people you are travelling with are and arrange certain “check-in” times with each other.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Cruise lines often offer many bars and alcohol services onboard. Alcohol clouds judgment and the ability to accurately recollect. Enjoy libations responsibly.

For more advice on how to prepare for your next cruise, be sure to review our “know-before-you-go-cruising” guide, “Unsafe on the High Seas.” This informative e-book was written by Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman cruise ship lawyer Charles Lipcon and has been consistently listed on Amazon’s 30 best sellers list in the travel category. In the book, Attorney Lipcon details his recommendations and best tips gleaned from more than 35 years of experience representing victims of cruise ship crimes and ship board mishaps.

Know How to Respond

A cruise ship injury lawyer will tell you that the most important action at a crime scene after an assault is preservation of the evidence. Ideally, any crime scene on a cruise should be sealed until law enforcement can arrive to conduct a proper investigation and collect evidence. In foreign ports, there is no guarantee of the level of training of foreign law enforcement authorities. A victim or his/her representative should insist the area is preserved until competent investigators arrive to properly preserve evidence for later use by an attorney. If the crew or security refuses to cooperate with the following reasonable requests, document this refusal in audio or video for later review by your cruise lawyer:

  • A victim of a sexual assault should not eat, drink, shower, brush her teeth, bathe or go to the bathroom before a rape exam can be conducted by a physician competent to perform such an exam.
  • Full names, addresses, contact phone numbers and emails of all witnesses should be obtained. If possible, statements should be recorded.
  • Photographs of any signs of an assault on a victim or a crime should be taken as well as photos of the area.
  • If you are onboard ship, report any incident to cruise ship security as soon as possible.
    • If at sea, immediately telephone the FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard and obtain advice on how to proceed. You can reach FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. at 202-324-3000. The emergency numbers for the U.S. Coast Guard are:
    • Atlantic Area Command Center (for Great Lakes, Gulf and East Coasts) - (757) 398-6390;
    • Pacific Area Command Center (for the Hawaiian, Alaskan and Pacific Coasts) - (510) 437-3700.
  • Do not rely on the cruise line to do anything for you.

The lawyers at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have developed a cruise ship lawyer application that allows you to store and retain evidence in the event of an uninvited sexual encounter or other crime. You can download it at no cost for the iPhone and Android phones. Our app contains resources to accomplish and preserve the evidence and steps to take following a crime.

Take a look at some of our actual cases in this area and let us put our experience to work for you.


More about Cruise Ship Rape Law & How We Can Help:




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Unsafe on the High Seas by Charles Lipcon

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