Sexual Assault: Amtrak Train Sexual Assault
Long-distance commuter rails like Amtrak trains are convenient for quick trips, cross-country ventures, and leisurely getaways. Despite the relative safety of Amtrak trains and other public transport options, riders — especially younger passengers and vulnerable individuals — can still fall victim to crime.
If you have unfortunately been the victim of a sexual assault while on board an Amtrack train, taking legal action can hold your abuser accountable. Speak with the legal team at Bachus & Schanker for a confidential consultation to learn about your legal rights and options. Please remember that it isn’t your fault, and you do not have to go through this alone. We are here to help.
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How common is sexual assault on public transportation?
Public transportation — including Amtrak trains, buses, subways, and even rideshare options — poses a unique environment for passengers. These confined spaces can make it difficult for victims to speak up or fight back during a sexual assault.
Often, victims, especially those who are younger or especially vulnerable, may not be able to process what is happening. Victims may be in shock when an assault happens or may be violently threatened if they speak up.
Assaults on public transportation are more common than the general public may realize. A study conducted by the San Jose State University found that out of 891 surveyed students, almost two-thirds (63%) reported experiencing some form of harassment while riding on public transportation, Amtrak trains included.
While anyone can be the victim of a sexual assault, the majority of victims (54%) are aged 18 to 34. Victims aged 12 to 34 are the highest risk age group for rape and sexual assault.
What is sexual assault on Amtrak trains and public transit?
A common misconception is that a sexual assault victim has to be physically harmed in order for their experience to rise to the level of sexual assault. While it can be harder to go after a perpetrator if they have not physically assaulted you, unwanted sexual advances are not always physical. And none of it is okay.
Sexual assault on Amtrak trains and public transportation can typically be broken up into three forms: verbal, nonverbal, and physical sexual assault. Being able to identify the type of sexual assault you have unfortunately experienced can help you better hold a perpetrator accountable. Here is what you should know about the types of sexual assaults that victims may encounter on Amtrak trains.
Verbal sexual harassment
Sexual harassment can take the form of verbal harassment and can include any unwanted verbal communication. This type of communication is usually sexually charged in nature and includes things like:
- Sexual noises directed at you
- Unwanted kissing noises
- Sexually explicit slurs, statements, or threats
Nonverbal sexual harassment
This type of sexual harassment is also sexually charged in nature but is displayed through the use of unwanted body language. This can include things like:
- Obscene sexual gestures through hand gestures or body movements
- A perpetrator exposing himself
- Unwanted “elevator eyes.” This is when an individual may make unwanted eye contact with you by looking you up and down in an obscene, aggressive, or sexually charged manner.
- Winking, licking lips, throwing kissing gestures
Physical sexual harassment
Perhaps the most dangerous is when an abuser becomes physically aggressive with a victim. Physical sexual harassment takes on many forms as well but can include things such as:
- Unwanted touching or groping of your private areas
- Unwanted sexual advancements
- Invading your “bubble” with a level of sexually charged aggression and refusing to give you space
- Unwanted/deliberate hugging, kissing, patting, massaging, or pulling on clothes or hair
- Non-consensual sexual encounters
Is sexual assault on Amtrak trains a federal crime?
Sexual assault on an Amtrak train can be considered a federal crime. This is because Amtrak is a federally funded and regulated transportation service. As such, sexual assaults while on Amtrak trains fall under the category of crimes that are subjected to federal jurisdiction.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) along with other federal statutes that address sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct in various contexts can be applied to victims who are sexually assaulted on Amtrak trains.
Additionally, the FBI may be tasked with investigating and prosecuting cases of sexual assault on Amtrak trains. Of course, the specific circumstances of your case, the jurisdiction, and applicable laws will all influence how one assault case unfolds compared to another.
What to do if you’ve been sexually assaulted on an Amtrak train
Knowing what to do after a sexual assault is critical to holding your abuser accountable and getting the justice you deserve. Here’s what to know if you’ve unfortunately experienced a sexual assault on an Amtrak train.
Report your assault
If you’ve been sexually assaulted either verbally, non-verbally, or physically, it’s important to report the sexual assault immediately. You can file a report with the Amtrak Police Department at 1-800-331-0008. You can also call 911, and authorities will be dispatched to your location to take over the case.
Seek medical attention
If you’ve been injured following a physical or sexual assault, or have been the victim of a rape, you should seek medical attention immediately. Medical professionals will document your injuries and may ask you to complete a rape kit. Doing so can help hold your abuser accountable if criminal charges are brought forward. This medical documentation can also serve you in your own legal actions.
Get the support you need
Unfortunately, many victims of sexual assault never report their abuse, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). Even more alarming is that a majority of perpetrators will never go to jail or prison for their actions. Out of 1,000 assaults, 975 abusers walk free.
If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, it’s important to seek resources from national and local organizations that can help you navigate the path forward. We understand this is an incredibly difficult time, but please know you don’t have to go through it alone. Free resources you can turn to include:
- The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC)
- After Silence
Seek legal support
You have legal rights and options if you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault. Even if your perpetrator has not faced criminal charges because of their actions, a sexual assault lawyer can help you seek the justice you deserve.
When you work with an experienced sexual assault lawyer, you will have a legal representative working diligently on your behalf. A dedicated legal team will work to hold all parties accountable for the pain and suffering you have endured.
At Bachus & Schanker, our Victim Advocates can serve you beyond just offering legal guidance and support. When you work with our specialized Victim Advocates Team, you’ll have access to professionals who can help you navigate the path forward following a sexual assault. Get connected to community resources, outreach support, mental health advocacy groups, and other organizations that can help you heal after a sexual assault.
How can a lawyer help you?
Working with a legal expert after a sexual assault can help you get the justice you deserve. An experienced lawyer can help you recover the damages you are entitled to. This can include damages for your pain and suffering, emotional trauma, ability to work, and other financial losses that resulted from the assault.
While no amount of money can repair the pain and trauma a victim endures following a sexual assault, recovering damages by holding responsible parties accountable can be a critical first step in the process of healing.
Work with a legal team committed to your safety
When you work with an experienced sexual assault lawyer at Bachus & Schanker, you can expect the highest degree of confidentiality and commitment to your case. Our team takes sexual assault crimes against victims seriously, and we’re committed to helping victims seek the justice they deserve.
Report Fraud, Waste & Abuse. (2023).
Violence Against Women Act. (2017).
Weinstein Agrawal, A., et. al. (2020). Crime and Harassment on Public Transportation: A Survey of SJSU Students Set in International Context.
Weinstein Agrawal, A., et. al. (2020). Sexual Crime and Harassment on Public Transportation: A Study.
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Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus
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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.