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Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking 

Northern Essex Community College (NECC) prohibits acts of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking (as defined by the Clery Act) and encourages students and employees to speak up if they witness signs of an abusive relationship. NECC reaffirms its commitment to maintaining a campus environment that emphasizes the dignity and worth of all members of the college community. If you or someone you know has experienced any of these crimes, call the Public Safety Department at 978-556-3333. The NECC Public Safety Department recognizes that reporting can be difficult. We want to ensure that survivors are treated with respect, sensitivity and understanding.  


Commonwealth of Massachusetts Definitions

The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities to provide their communities the state definitions of Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking and consent. However, these definitions are for educational and awareness purposes only.  With that, colleges and universities must use the definitions provided by the Clery Act to report Clery Act crimes and statistics.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not have crimes defined as “dating violence” or “domestic violence” but Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 209A § 1 prohibits the crime of “abuse.”

  • Abuse is defined as “the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members: (a) attempting to cause or causing physical harm; (b) placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; (c) causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress.”
  • Sexual Assault – There is no crime called “sexual assault” in Massachusetts; however, there are related crimes of “indecent assault and battery,” “rape,” and “assault with intent to commit rape.” 
  • The term “indecent assault and battery” is not defined by statute.
  • Rape, generally: “Whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person and compels such person to submit by force and against his will, or compels such person to submit by threat of bodily injury…”
  • “Assault with intent to commit rape” is not defined by statute.

Stalking is a crime under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 265 § 43(A). Stalking is defined as: “Whoever (1) willfully and maliciously engages in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and (2) makes a threat with the intent to place the person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury, shall be guilty of the crime of stalking and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or by a fine of not more than $1,000, or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years or by both such fine and imprisonment. The conduct, acts or threats described in this subsection shall include, but not be limited to, conduct, acts or threats conducted by mail or by use of a telephonic or telecommunication device or electronic communication device including, but not limited to, any device that transfers signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.

Consent – Massachusetts does not legally define consent.


Dating/Domestic Violence

Causes

People abuse their partners because they believe they have the right to control the person they’re dating. Abuse is a learned behavior, and it is neither ok nor ever justified. It is important to know that abuse is a choice, and it is not one that anyone has to make. Anyone can be abusive and anyone can be the victim of abuse. It happens regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race or economic background. (“Dating Violence”)

Dating violence can take place in person, online, or through technology. It is a type of intimate partner violence that can include the following types of behavior:

  • Physical violence – when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
  • Sexual violence – forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act and or sexual touching when the partner does not consent or is unable to consent or refuse. It also includes non-physical sexual behaviors like posting or sharing sexual pictures of a partner without their consent or sexting someone without their consent.
  • Psychological aggression – the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally and exert control over a partner.
    Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a current or former partner that causes fear or safety concern for an individual victim or someone close to the victim. (“Fast Facts: Preventing Teen Dating Violence |Violence Prevention|injury Center|CDC”)

Early Warning Signs of an Abusive Partner

For teens and those new to dating and relationships, it’s can be difficult to identify controlling behaviors from caring behaviors. Consider this list of warning signs to identify unhealthy or abusive behaviors.

It’s not OK for a Partner to:

  • Demand details about how you spend your time. While it’s normal for a partner to express interest in your day, it’s not okay for a partner to demand to know where you are and who is spending time with you every minute of the day—or to limit with whom you spend time.
  • Restrict contact with family or friends. Sometimes abusive partners will force someone to cut ties with family or friends who don’t approve of the relationship. Remember that who you trust and spend time with is your choice.
  • Criticize you or what’s important to you. Partners who put you down or belittle your beliefs are not respectful partners. While it’s healthy to have challenging conversations about ideas, it’s not OK to tell someone that their thoughts, opinions, or bodies are not important.
  • Control what you wear or what you look like. Partners should not place restrictions on your clothes, makeup, hair, or other aspects of your physical body. This includes forcing you to eat a certain way to engage in certain exercise routines.
  • Touch you in public without permission. If a partner grabs or pinches you in front of friends or family when you’ve asked them not to, or insists on public displays of affection that you’re not comfortable with, this is a sign of ignoring your boundaries.
  • Coerce or pressure you into physical activity. Coercion can include using phrases such as “If you really loved me, you would sleep with me.” In the LGBTQ community, pressuring someone to “prove” their sexuality is also a form of coercion.
  • Ignore or violate your physical boundaries. Setting clear boundaries about physical intimacy is part of a healthy relationship. If pumping the breaks or asking to stop an activity is seen as “silly” or “lame,” these might be warning signs that a partner won’t respect your boundaries down the road.
  • Control your reproductive choices. Refusing to use a condom, lying about using forms of birth control, or forcing someone to take a hormonal birth control—these are all signs that a partner does not respect the choices you are making for your body and your future. (“Early Warning Signs of Dating Violence”)

Support for Unhealthy Relationships

It can be unsettling to recognize abusive behaviors in a relationship. Know that you are not alone, and there are people you can talk to.

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
  • Prepare a safety plan.
  • If you are a teen or young adult, you can learn more about healthy relationships by visiting Love Is Respect or using their confidential hotline services.
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline also has a hotline for anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.
  • If you have experienced sexual assault and need to talk, visit The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). You can talk to someone from the National Sexual Assault Hotline online in English or Spanish, or over the phone at 800-656-4673.

Sexual Assault

Causes

Sexual violence is not an act of love or attraction. It is an act of power and control. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the occurrence of sexual violence, including gender-based stereotypes or a perpetrator’s lack of respect for the victim.

Another contributing factor is victim blaming, or the contention that a victim “asked for it” by dressing or behaving a certain way.  Each of these factors can reinforce criminal behaviors and make it more difficult for victims to come forward in the future.

Changing the way we think about sexual violence is the first step toward prevention. Above all, it is important to remember that sexual violence is entirely the fault of the perpetrator.  There is simply no excuse for unwanted sexual contact.

Statistics

The following statistics are from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center 2015 Statistics and RAINN Victims of Sexual Violence Statistics and RAINN Campus Sexual Violence Statistics.

  • One in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college.
  • More than 90% of sexual assaults that occur on college campuses are never reported.
  • In 8 out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the person who sexually assaulted them.
  • Among undergraduate students, 26.4% of females and 6.8% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
  • 23.1% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted.
  • Students are at an increased risk during the first few months of their first and second semesters in college.

Stalking

Stalking is a serious crime. It is any action that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or for the safety of another, or to suffer substantial emotional distress. It can happen to anyone. It is never the victim’s fault.

Examples of Stalking Behavior

  • Repeated unwanted phone calls, texts, or emails that may or may not be threatening.
  • Posting messages or images of the person on social media or in discussion groups.
  • Creating fake profiles to continue contacting a person after they have been blocked on their personal account.
  • Hacking into the person’s social media, email or other accounts.
  • Following a person or showing up unexpectedly at their home or place of work, class, car, etc.
  • Damaging a person’s home, car or other property.
  • Leaving unwanted gifts or other items.
  • Breaking into the person’s home or car.
  • Making other non-consensual attempts to contact someone.
  • Exhibiting behaviors that harass or threaten a person.

General Tips for Stalking Victims

If you believe you are being stalked, report it right away to the NECC Public Safety Department 987-556-3333. Stalking is unpredictable, which makes it dangerous. Stalkers may threaten, attack, sexually assault and even try to kill their victims. Do not try to reason with, or confront your stalker.  

While you cannot control the stalking behavior, you can take a proactive approach to keep yourself, your family and your loved ones safe:

  • Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, you probably are.
  • Take threats seriously. Danger is usually higher when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship or when the stalker talks about suicide or murder.
  • Let others know about the stalking behavior: friends, family, classmates, teachers, neighbors or co-workers. Share both photos and a description of the stalker and their vehicle.
  • Save evidence when possible. Save all emails, text messages, photos and postings on social media as evidence. Document all contact from your stalker, but do not respond. Record the date, time, location and details of what happened. You can use this log as an example.
  • Find a safe place to go in an emergency, for example, a police station, a public area or a friend’s house. It generally is not a good idea to go home if you’re being followed.
  • Don’t travel alone. If you like to walk, jog or run, bring a friend with you.
  • Do not meet, respond to or contact your stalker.
  • Consider how to use your technology and your devices in a safer manner. For more information, please visit the National Network to End Domestic Violence Safety Net Project’s Tech Safety Site.
  • For more tips on developing a safety plan, read “Stalking Safety Planning,” courtesy of the STALKING PREVENTION, AWARENESS, AND RESOURCE CENTER (SPARC).

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