Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, & Stalking

Domestic violence occurs when people who are in the same family or in a significant dating relationship commit acts of violence or abuse toward one another. Domestic violence usually presents as a pattern of behavior that grows worse over time. This is why is important to recognize it early on and get help. As police, our primary goal in these cases is to ensure the health and safety of the victim of the crime (also referred to as abuse survivor). Boston University Police is committed to investigating these crimes professionally, identifying and arresting offenders, and assisting those affected to get the assistance they need whether it’s through criminal justice, BU disciplinary system, or health and counseling care.

Reporting Domestic Violence – 617-353-2121

  • Get to a safe location
  • Get immediate medical attention.
  • Notify BUPD
  • Preserve any evidence of the abuse or assault
  • Boston University offers professional counseling through SARP

Making the decision to report is a very difficult one for most survivors of domestic violence. We strongly recommend reporting the crime to police and want people to know what to expect should they decide to report to the police.

By choosing to report a domestic violence situation to police, survivors are not required to go forward with the case. However, under the law police have very limited discretion in these cases; we must arrest the abuser if the person can be located.

Confidentiality is a major concern for survivors considering reporting. Please know that BUPD will protect and respect the privacy of individuals to the greatest extent possible and share information only on a need-to-know basis. Police reports regarding domestic violence are not public records.

 What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is term that is used to describe situations that involve abuse between domestic partners. It is typified by abusive and controlling behavior that gets increasingly violent over time.

What does this mean? Disagreements are normal and healthy in a relationship. Most people will never become violent, abusive, controlling and manipulative towards their partner. But when it does occur it is very difficult for the survivor because of the complexities of each personal situation.

While there is no typical profile of a domestic violence situation, there are common dynamics that may be present either individually or in combination with each other:

  • Isolation from family or friends
  • Name-calling, put downs, ridicule, and emotional abuse
  • Manipulation of children or other family members
  • Hurt or abuse of pets
  • Withholding medication or assistance devices for people with disabilities or elders
  • Physical violence
  • Painful or forced sex
  • Monitoring activity via technology
  • Financial exploitation by stealing money, hurting property or interfering with work or school
  • Threats of or acts of homicide
  • Jealousy and possessiveness


Used with permission from Jane Doe Inc.

What is the Difference between Dating Violence and Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence laws were enacted primarily to protect battered women who were married to their abusers. Over time the laws have evolved to protect people of all genders and people in relationships other than marriage. Dating violence is a term that is often used to describe relationship violence between teens and young adults. Where domestic violence is used in situations where the involved people are married, living together, or have children together.

I live with a Roommate. Can that be considered Domestic Violence?

Yes. Under the law in Massachusetts, roommates (including dorm mates) who are abusive to the one another may be charged under the domestic violence laws even if they are not in a romantic or dating relationship.

What is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order is an official order from the court that prohibits the abuser from contacting the victim, showing up at their place of work or school, removes any owned firearms, and otherwise dictates how the abuser must act. It gives police the authority to take action if the orders are broken. BUPD and all police in Massachusetts will honor valid restraining orders from any US state or territory.

I’m not Dating the Person that’s Harassing Me. Can I Still Get a Restraining Order?

Yes. Restraining orders may still be obtained after a relationship has ended if the abuse is continuing. In cases where no relationship existed, harassment prevention orders may be obtained.

What is Stalking?

Stalking is a form of harassment that is generally defined as any unwanted contact that communicates a threat or places the victim in fear. Stalking is a term that is sometimes used synonymously with criminal harassment. In fact, criminal harassment and stalking are identical crimes except stalking has the added element of threats, making it a felony.

What does this mean? Criminal harassment occurs when someone conducts a pattern or series of acts (3 or more) directs words and / or other communications toward a specific person, which would cause a reasonable person to became alarmed. Stalking occurs when the same happens but involves an assault or a threat of violence.

Disciplinary Procedures

If the offender is a student, the Dean of Students Office handles the disciplinary proceedings outlined here.

If the offender is a faculty or staff Human Resources handles the disciplinary proceedings outlined here.

Educational Programs

The University engages in a variety of educational programs designed to promote awareness and prevention of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

Counseling Services

The police can assist you in contacting a counselor. The crisis intervention and counseling services provided by Boston University SARP (Sexual Assault Response and Prevention) are available to all members of the campus community and are trained to help the victims of interpersonal violence 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.

Rights under Domestic Abuse Laws

You have the right to go to court, and to file a domestic abuse complaint requesting:
An order restraining your attacker from abusing you;
An order directing your attacker to leave your household, building, or workplace.
You have the right to seek a criminal complaint for threats, assault and battery, or other related offenses.
If you are in need of medical treatment, the police will arrange transportation for you to the nearest hospital or otherwise assist you in obtaining medical treatment.
If requested, the police will remain at the scene until you can leave or until your safety is otherwise ensured.
You may request that the officer assist you by arranging transportation or by taking you to a safe place such as a shelter or a family or friend’s residence.
You may obtain a copy of the police incident report at no cost from the police department.