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Things to Know

You may have a lot of questions about your health, safety, and rights. We urge you to talk to a trained sexual or domestic violence advocate. Research has proven that being connected to a sexual or domestic violence advocate can make a difference. Read more to get helpful information about the following:

Legal Issues: Legal issues might range from how to get a restraining order to questions about child care and custody, property damage, access to guns, etc.

Intimate Partner Sexual Violence (IPSV): In Massachusetts, sexual violence and rape is a crime even if the couple is married or in a relationship. This law applies to everyone, including immigrants and refugees from other countries.

Alcohol and drugs: It's important to understand that being under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not an excuse for abuse.

Health Effects:  Talking to a medical or mental health care provider can help you address any short and long term physical, emotional, and psychological health effects you're experiencing.

Statutory Rape: In Massachusetts, it is illegal to have sexual intercourse with a child who has not yet reached his or her sixteenth birthday.

Sexual Abuse of a Child: Sexual contact of any kind with a minor child is against the law. Services are available for children, for adult survivors of sexual violence, and for non-offending parents.

Technology Concerns: Technology can help you find resources and reach out for help. At the same times, perpetrators continue to find new ways to abuse, track, harass, and make contact with victims and survivors. Learn more about safety steps you can take.

Read More Things to Know

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Read our latest newsletter: February 2017.

Find Help

"I spoke out to put a face to the issue for the millions of women, men and children who suffer in silence and to say that you are not alone. Help is available." ~ Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor (Photo by Christopher Mason)

Find Help

Use our interactive service locator tool or download this map to find free and confidential support and services at a sexual or domestic violence program near you.  

Note: you can also choose to contact the police by calling call 9-1-1. Choosing to report a sexual assault or incident of domestic violence does not require you to file charges or testify in court. A community based sexual or domestic violence advocate can help you sort out this option.


Do any of these questions sound familiar?

  • Does your current or past partner ever make you feel afraid for yourself or your children?
  • Does the person you’re dating make you feel guilty when you spend time with family and/or friends?
  • Did a family member, someone you know, or a stranger force you to do something sexually that you did not freely agree to do, either recently or a long time ago?
  • Is someone giving you unwanted romantic attention?
  • Do you think someone is checking up on your whereabouts or accessing your information online?
  • Does your partner constantly criticize you, tell you that you’re worthless, or put you down?
  • Does your partner threaten to take away your children or have you deported?
  • Do you have questions about Massachusetts’ laws and options for people affected by domestic and sexual violence?
  • Are you thinking of leaving Massachusetts to get away—with or without your children—from the person abusing you?
  • Do you wish you could find someone to listen to your questions and concerns?
  • Are you worried about the safety of someone you care about?
  • Are you unsure about what to do next and where to get help?  

You are not alone

There is a wide range of normal feelings, experiences, and questions for victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence. No matter what you’ve been told to the contrary, no one deserves to be abused or assaulted. We know that these concerns can feel overwhelming. And we want you to know that you are not alone.

There are resources across Massachusetts and the country designed specifically for victims and survivors and those who care about them. Research has proven time and again that trained local advocates are a major factor in both protection from and healing after abuse.

Millions of victims and their children and loved ones who have been helped by sexual and domestic violence programs are living and thriving in lives free of violence and abuse.

You may be uncomfortable sharing your experiences with someone you don’t know. We understand. Trained advocates are there to help you, offer support, connect you with resources and respect your decisions.

Whether the violence you’ve experienced happened recently or in the past, you can call a sexual or domestic violence program to get the support you need and deserve. Advocates can help you find somebody to talk to, identify and obtain housing, legal and medical support as well as shelters, programs and other resources for you and your children. Programs can also help family members, friends and colleagues with concerns.

Trust your instincts.

It’s normal to sweep your concerns aside, hope that the fear will pass, and believe that it can’t get worse. Trust your gut. Reach out and talk to someone about what you and your loved ones need most right now.

As a victim and/or survivor, you know your experience better than anyone else. Trained advocates at sexual and domestic violence programs will be there with you side by side on your journey towards increased safety. Together, you can work to get your questions and concerns answered, which can help you take steps toward peace and safety.

Your Rights

You have the right to safety, dignity, and liberty. You have the right not be abused physically, sexually, emotionally, or financially. You also have the right to a police response. You have the right to live free of fear and violence.

You don't have to be in crisis to call.

  • Call anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • All services are confidential and free. 
  • No one will force you to leave or take legal action.
  • Someone is always here to listen.


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