Sexual Assault, Rape Prevention, Reporting, and Counseling

Sexual Assault and Rape are never the fault of the victim. Contrary to popular belief, rape is not a crime of sex. Rape is a crime of violence and a devastating experience, but it is survivable. Rape affects all people, no matter what their gender, age, race, sexual orientation, ability, religion, or economic status. FBI projections suggest that one out of three women may be the victim of a sexual assault in her lifetime. In the United States, one forcible rape occurs every seven minutes. Each year, about 90,000 forcible rapes are reported to the police. Moreover, it is estimated that between 60% - 90% of all rapes and attempted rapes are not reported.

Staying Safe

Because each situation is different, there is no sure way to prevent a sexual assault or rape. Research indicates that a majority of rapes occur between people that know one another. While nothing is failsafe, here are some suggestions everyone may want to consider:

  • Make sure you have consent. Consent is a clear yes, not an absence of no.
  • People who are incapacitated by drugs or alcohol cannot give consent.
  • Practice being assertive about your boundaries.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy or sense something is wrong, get away and call for assistance. Be alert, If you feel uncomfortable about someone near you, head for a populated area.
  • Be active in supporting a safe and respectful community. If you see others engaging in disrespectful or inappropriate actions, speak up and get involved, or contact someone else to assist.
  • Learn to protect yourself with a Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) course.
  • Lock your doors, even if leaving your residence for just a moment.
  • Always check to see who is at your door before opening it.
  • When you go out, let a friend or roommate know where you will be and when you will return.
  • Avoid walking alone at night. Use the Walking Escort Service or the PVTA campus shuttle.  
  • If you are out after dark, use only well-lit routes. Walk near the curb and avoid passing close to shrubs, dark doorways, and other hiding places.
  • Make note of the location of HELP phones.
  • Report suspicious activity to the police.
  • When meeting a first date or blind date, choose a public place or go with friends. Bring a cell phone and money for a cab, or bring your own car.
  • Don't leave a social event with someone you've just met or don't know well.
  • Never accept beverages from someone you don't know and trust. Always watch your drink and never leave it unattended.
  • If you feel uncomfortable with a friend or date, assertively ask the person to leave, or leave yourself.

If You Have Been Raped

If you are a victim of a sexual assault, your first priority should be to get to a place of safety. Once you are safe, seek medical treatment and report the incident as soon as possible. Time is a critical factor for evidence collection and preservation.

Getting Help and Reporting an Assault

The UMPD (http://www.umass.edu/umpd/sexual-assault-resources) works closely with University Health Services and Center for Women and Community (http://www.umass.edu/cwc/get-help) to help survivors of sexual assault obtain medical treatment, counseling and support, and to file a police report, if they so choose. You can contact UMPD at 413-545-2121, or dial 911 and we will assist you.

If you or a friend has been sexually assaulted, you should report it directly to UMPD as soon as possible, as valuable evidence can be lost due to delays. When you call, you will reach a dispatcher. You may ask to speak to an officer with advanced training in sexual assault and you may also ask to speak to a female officer.

If you file a police report you will not be obligated to prosecute, nor will you be subject to scrutiny or judgmental opinions from officers. Filing a police report will:

  • Ensure that you receive necessary medical treatment and tests, at no expense to you.
  • Provide the opportunity for collection of evidence helpful in prosecution, which cannot be obtained later. (Ideally, a victim of sexual assault should not wash, douche, use the toilet, or change clothing prior to a medical/legal exam.)
  • Provide you access to free confidential counseling from counselors specifically trained in the area of sexual assault crisis intervention.

Confidential Information

If you are seeking confidential information but do not want to make a police report, you may call the:

  • Center for Women and Community 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at 413-545-0800
  • University Health Services Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Phone: 413-577-5000, 150 Infirmary Way

After an assault you may also choose to go directly to UHS to see a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE).

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health specially trains, certifies, and supports registered nurses and physicians to provide quality care and forensic evidence collection to sexual assault survivors. UHS is a designated SANE site, providing confidential, compassionate services for male, female, and transgender survivors.

Come to UHS as soon as possible, before showering. Exams must be performed within five days of the assault to ensure evidence quality.

The SANE can help you obtain the services of a sexual assault counselor from the Center for Women and Community. UHS also works with UMPD and other police departments as necessary. However, you do not need to make a police report to get medical care or have evidence collected.

If you choose not to have a complete forensic exam, we still strongly encourage you to come to UHS to be checked for possible injury, infection, or unintended pregnancy, and for post-trauma counseling.

Please also take advantage of the rape crisis services available at the Center for Women & Community.

CONTACT

UMPD
585 East Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003-9600

umpd@admin.umass.edu
413-545-2121 non-emergency
413-545-3111 emergency or 911
413-545-3113 fax

Tips

Call 413-577-TIPS (8477) or use our Anonymous Witness Form.