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About Sexual Assault and Rape
Sexual assault is a problem rooted in the very fabric of our society, in how we learn to treat one another, and in what we learn to expect from our relationships, our families and our institutions. It is a crime of violence that affects women, men, and children. While rape is perpetrated mostly by men against women, anyone can be a victim or perpetrator - regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, education, race, socioeconomic background, or religion.

A complex set of social dynamics underlie rape. When a survivor shares that she or he has been sexually assaulted, it is important to understand the assault from within the context of the world of the survivor. This may include misogyny (woman-hating), discrimination based on race, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic status and class, educational background or aspirations, and relationships with significant others. These gender roles and stereotypes often lead to guilt, shame and self-blame by the victim of a sexual assault.

Far too often the burden is shifted to the victim. For instance, the reality of rape is obscured by questions such as:

  • What was she wearing?
  • Why was she there?
  • Why didn't she complain earlier?
  • How drunk were they?
  • What did she do to provoke him?
  • What is the motive to lie?

The sense of shame and guilt evoked by these questions and other myths about sexual assault can also lead survivors to feel completely alone and isolated after an attack.

We use the term survivor to emphasize the strength, resolve, determination, and intelligence that it takes to survive, not only a sexual assault, but also the disbelief, isolation, pain and numerous emotions and experiences that follow. While the healing process is often difficult, we believe that with support victims of sexual assault can become survivors.

reprinted with permission from Jane Doe INC.


I. Definition of Sexual Assault

II. Avoid Becoming a Rape Victim

III. Educational Programs

IV. Crisis Intervention and Rape Counseling Services

V. Incident Reporting Procedures

VI. Disciplinary Procedures

Definition of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault and rape are crimes of violence and control, using sex acts as a weapon. Rape and sexual assault are not sexually motivated acts; rather, they stem from aggression, rage, sexism, and the determination to exercise power over someone else.

reprinted with permission from Jane Doe INC.

Sexual assault is a felony under Massachusetts law. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265, Section 22 defines "rape" as: Having sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person by penetration of any orifice by any object and compelling such person to submit by force and against their will, or compelling such person to submit by threat of bodily injury. Other sexual offenses may fall within the definition of rape or other laws prohibiting sexual assault. Date or acquaintance rape also violate these laws. Acts of violence, harassment, and any conduct that threatens to endanger the health or safety of any person on University property are also prohibited by the Boston University Code of Student Responsibilities and the personnel policies of the University. Those who violate the law and the University's rules are subject to stringent penalties.

Boston University is committed to the prevention of sexual assaults, and of domestic and workplace violence, through an ongoing program of activities, such as distribution of educational material, new student and staff orientations, law enforcement services, crisis intervention and counseling services, and strict disciplinary procedures.

Avoid Becoming a Rape Victim:

  • Never walk alone on campus after dark.
  • When going to a party or a bar, always use the "buddy system".
  • Use the Security Escort Service.
  • Always wait for your escort to arrive before leaving.
  • Do not take poorly lit paths.
  • Know the location of all blue emergency phones.
  • Keep your doors and windows locked.
  • Do not open your door until you know who is there.
  • Discuss your schedule with a few close friends.
  • Carry a cell phone.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • And always, ...always... be aware of your surroundings. Ask yourself: Are your friends still around? Who else is in the apartment/ house/residence hall?
  • Rohypnol Fact Sheet (roofies)

Educational Programs

The University engages in a variety of educational programs designed to promote awareness an prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Crisis Intervention and Rape Counseling Services

The police can assist you in contacting a counselor. The crisis intervention and counseling services provided by Boston University are available to all members of the campus community regardless of where the assault may have happened. The Boston University crisis counselor is a specialist trained to help the victims of crimes and other traumatic incidents. The counselor can meet a victim at the hospital and assist her or him in any way possible. If additional counseling is needed, the crisis counselor can help arrange it.

  • Crisis Intervention Counselor (days):
    • 617-353-3569
  • Crisis Counselor (nights and weekends):
    • 617-353-2121 The BUPD will page the on-call counselor.
  • Boston Area Rape Crisis Center:
    • 617-492-7273
    • 617-492-RAPE.
  • Mental Health and Counseling Center:
    • 617-353-3569

Incident Reporting Procedures

Massachusetts law and Boston University policy seek to protect victims of rape, sexual assault and other sex offenses, and to encourage the reporting of such offenses to law enforcement authorities for appropriate action. Boston University recommends the following procedures be followed if an assault or any incident of violence occurs:

  • Get to a safe location
  • Get immediate medical attention, if needed.
  • Notify police. Victims of crime are encouraged to report the incident to the police.
  • Preserve any evidence of the assault.
  • Boston University offers professional counseling at the Counseling and Wellness Center.

The Boston University Police Department has officers who are specially trained and certified to investigate sexual assault cases, and who will investigate all crimes that occur on the Boston University campus. Local police investigate crimes anywhere within their respective cities and towns. The Boston University Police are available to assist in contacting local police departments and specialized units. A police investigation should be conducted promptly even if the victim is unsure if he or she wants to participate in the prosecution of the offender.

Disciplinary Procedures

If the offender is a student, the University judicial system may impose disciplinary sanctions. Persons seeking to file a complaint under the Boston University Code of Student Responsibilities should contact the Office of the Dean of Students. Student disciplinary procedures are outlined in the Code of Student Responsibilities. In sexual assault cases the following additional provisions apply:

  • The accuser and the accused are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present during a University disciplinary proceeding; and
  • Both the accuser and the accused shall be informed of the outcome of any University disciplinary proceeding alleging a sexual assault.

If the offender is a University employee or student, victims may report an offense to the Boston University Police, the Dean of Students or the Office of Personnel. Non- student victims should report an offense to the Boston University Police at 617-353-2121.

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