frequently asked questions
what is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is forced, manipulated, or coerced sexual activity. When any person engages in sexual activity to which they DO NOT or CANNOT consent, that fits the definition of sexual assault. Rape is one form of sexual assault.
how does massachusetts law define rape?
MASSACHUSETTS DEFINITION OF RAPE (Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 265)
Rape is defined as being "sexual intercourse" (insertion of penis in vagina) or "unnatural sexual intercourse" (insertion of other body part or object into the vagina; insertion of penis, other body part, or object into the rectum; fellatio or cunnilingus) with a person by force and against the will of that person or by threat of bodily injury. Penetration must exist, but may be slight. Rape can be committed by a man against a woman, by a man against a man, by a woman against a man, by a woman against a woman, or by any person against a person who is drugged or unconscious. The crime of rape in the state of Massachusetts has a penalty of up to 20 years in state prison.
what if i was drunk or high?
Most importantly, if you were drunk or high and did not consent to some form of sexual activity, you did not do anything wrong. It is not your fault, and no one deserves to be assaulted no matter what. If you are drinking at a party, try to make sure you have a safety plan with friends.
i was underage drinking and i was sexually assaulted. now i'm scared to report the assault because i'm afraid i'll get in trouble. what do i do?
The UMass Department of Public Safety is concerned with your safety and well-being as a victim/survivor of sexual assault, not with pursuing charges against you for an alcohol violation. Victims/survivors will not face charges of alcohol consumption if a report of sexual violence is made to the police. If your friends don't know this, tell them! It can make a difference by getting people the services and support they deserve.
what if both people were drunk or high?
This is a question that a lot of people ask, especially on a college campus. If you're interested in someone who has been drinking, do not assume they are able to give informed, clear consent to have sex with you: wait until they're sober.
If you are involved in a sexual situation where both people were drinking or using drugs and you feel concerned about the experience, feel free to call the Center for Women and Community 24-hour hotline at (413) 545-0800 or 1-888-337-0800 to talk. Trust your instincts-if something doesn't feel right to you, you deserve support to figure out what you need.
where can i get support around issues of consent?
If you or someone you know has been pressured or coerced into sexual activity, call us for support! We serve the entire Hampshire County community, even though we are based at UMass. REGARDLESS of your gender, our 24-hour hotline is there to support everyone who has been affected by violence and abuse. We can be reached at (413) 545-0800 or 1-888-337-0800 (Local Long Distance).
You don't have to be in crisis to call the hotline-whether you are supporting someone who has been assaulted or time has passed since your own assault, the hotline is there to provide you with support. Call for referrals, for information about our free and confidential support groups and short-term counseling, to ask questions about supporting people in your life, or for a one-time conversation to get support for yourself. Any of these are reasons to use the hotline. You deserve to be supported!