What to Do as a Victim of Cruise Ship Rape or Sexual Assault

According to the FBI, sexual assault is the leading crime reported and investigated on the high seas. It comprises 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 these vessels are small floating cities of strangers. As counterintuitive as it may feel to the welcoming atmosphere you encounter as you board your cruise, you must treat a 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 ship rape lawyers can significantly reduce your risk and increase both your safety and enjoyment on your vacation.

  1. Always be sure to lock your door. Monitor your room keys and keep track of them at all times.
  2. Do not open your door to anyone unexpected, including a ship crewmember.
  3. Know where your children are at all times. Do not let them roam unsupervised or unattended. This makes them vulnerable.
  4. Know where the people you are travelling with are and arrange certain “check-in” times with each other.
  5. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. These vessels 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 vacation on the sea, be sure to review our “know-before-you-go-cruising” guide “Unsafe on the High Seas.” This informative e-book was written by Attorney Charles R. 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 mishaps.

Know How to Respond

The most important action at a crime scene after an assault is preservation of the evidence. Ideally, any crime scene on a boat 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 sealed 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 ship rape lawyer:

  1. 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.
  1. Full names, addresses, contact phone numbers and emails of all witnesses should be obtained. If possible, statements should be recorded.
  2. Photographs of any signs of an assault on a victim or a crime should be taken, as well as photos of the area.
  3. If you are onboard ship, report any incident to 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 legal team at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. has developed a cruise ship injury lawyer app 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.