Sexual Assault

Boston University Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center

 

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 my friends still around? Who else is in the apartment/house/residence hall?
  • Know the facts about club drugs.

Educational Programs

The University engages in a variety of educational programs designed to promote awareness and 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 at the Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine Clinic are available to all members of the campus community regardless of where the assault 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: BARCC website 24 Hour Hotline 800-841-8371
  • Boston University Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine Clinic: 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 Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine Clinic.

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 she or he 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, a victim may report an offense to the Boston University Police, the Dean of Students, or the Office of Human Resources. A nonstudent victim should report an offense to the Boston University Police at 617-353-2121.

Sexual Assault Checklist for Faculty and Administrators

Rape and sexual assault are crimes that occur every day in American society, and University communities are not immune from these incidents. As a faculty member, you may have one of your students approach you to discuss such an occurrence. When this happens, you become an extremely valuable point of contact for this individual. The Boston University Police Department and Office of the Dean of Students are dedicated to providing you with the most useful information possible to help this victim.

Section I. Immediate care for the victim
Section II. Choices the victim has to make
Section III. Police response
Section IV. Dean of Students response
Section V. Checklist
Section VI. Resources

Section I. Immediate care for the victim

Generally speaking, we do not expect that the victim would approach you immediately after a violent rape. Again, generally speaking, we feel that the victim would approach you as an advisor to discuss a past incident. However, as soon as you understand that the victim was raped, there are some things you should counsel her or him to do.

1. If the victim appears to be-or complains of having been-injured, or if the victim appears to be in shock, he or she must go immediately to a hospital. The Police Department recommends that the victim be taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital that has on-staff "S.A.N.E." (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurses who are skilled in handling the medical and psychological aftermath of a rape. The victim will get whatever medical help is needed for injuries.

However, there are a number of other reasons for choosing to go to the hospital even if no injuries are present, and time is of the essence in these matters:

  • The victim needs to begin the testing process to determine if he or she has been infected with HIV.
  • The victim needs to begin the testing procedures for determining if he or she has contracted a venereal disease.
  • The victim needs to begin the testing procedure to determine if hepatitis in any form has been contracted.
  • If the use of a date rape drug is suspected, then the victim should be tested to see if it is present in their system. Rohypnol (roofies) can be detected in the system up to 60 hours after ingestion. For more information please see our fact sheet on Rohypnol.
  • If the victim is a woman, she needs to be counseled on the possibility of becoming pregnant and the medical options she has in this situation.
  • The S.A.N.E. nurse or doctor may determine that a rape kit needs to be prepared. The victim can decide to remain anonymous. If the rape occurred at BU, we will receive the kit with a code on it. If the victim later decides to go forward with an investigation, the hospital will then provide us with the victim's identification.

2. The hospital will discuss counseling options with the victim. Boston University also has counseling available, which will be discussed later.

3. We strongly urge you to call the Police Department at once, with the victim's consent. Time is of the essence in the case of a rape or sexual assault. We have a number of highly trained rape investigators on the Department, and our Detective Unit is second to none in their ability to handle all aspects of such an investigation.

Section II. Choices the Victim Has to Make

Chances are that the victim has come to you because of an existing relationship with you as either a teacher or an advisor. You may not be prepared to hear extremely graphic details about such a crime of violence perpetrated against someone you have mentored. However, the fact that the victim has come forward to discuss this matter with you indicates that he or she has a great deal of trust in you. You must do nothing to erode that trust, yet you must be able to guide the person through a number of decisions she or he will have to make.

The victim must decide:

  • Whether or not to report the incident to the police and/or school authorities.
  • Whether or not to seek medical attention. This is important for checking for internal injuries and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Whether or not to notify a rape crisis center and/or to seek counseling.
  • Whether or not they wish to seek a restraining order against the assailant, if he or she knows that party.
  • Does the victim feel safe in their residence? If they do not, Boston University will relocate the victim to safe housing.

Section III. Police Response

The three primary responsibilities of law enforcement in sexual assault cases are to (1) protect, interview, and support the victim; (2) investigate the crime and apprehend the perpetrator; and (3) collect and preserve evidence of the assault that will assist in the prosecution of the assailant.

In the investigation and prosecution of most sexual assault cases, the role of the victim is much more important than in other crimes because the victim is usually the sole witness to the crime. Unfortunately, sexual assault victims are sometimes reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement because of the intense trauma and humiliation they have suffered. The Police Department, the Office of the Dean of Students, victim/witness counselors from the District Attorney's Office, and BU counselors assist the victim every step of the way through the investigation and possible trial.

Section IV. Dean of Students Response

Boston University does not tolerate assault in any form. Sexual assaults are felonies under Massachusetts law. Acts of violence, harassment, and any other 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 preventing sexual assaults and domestic and workplace violence-indeed, all violence-through ongoing activities such as distribution of educational material, new student and staff orientations, law enforcement services, crisis intervention and counseling services, and strict disciplinary procedures.

Section V. Checklist

If the victim is injured or requires medical attention, notify the BU Police immediately.

Section VI. Resources

Boston University Police Department: 617-353-2121

For Medical Help:
Boston University Police Department: 617-353-2121

For Counseling:
Boston University Student Health Services: 617-353-3569
The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center: 24 Hour Hotline 800-841-8371
Beth Israel/Deaconess Medical Center, Rape Crisis Intervention Program: 617-667-8141