What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence in Massachusetts is defined by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209A as the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:
- attempting to cause or causing physical harm;
- placing another in fear of imminent physical harm;
- causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat, or duress.
"Family or Household Members" are persons who:
- are or were married to one another; are or were residing together in the same household;
- are or were related by blood or marriage;
- have a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together;
- or are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship - this includes same sex relationships.
There is never an excuse for violence.
Domestic violence is not caused by or provoked by the actions or inactions of the victim. Domestic violence is not directly caused by alcohol or drug abuse, depression, lack of money, lack of job, mental illness or abuse as a child. However, existing problems often create additional stress in a relationship and may increase the risk of violence. Many abusers blame the victim or other things for their violent acts and do not take responsibility for the abusive behavior. There is never an excuse for violence.
I experience domestic violence off-campus; How can I protect myself here on-campus?
Come in and speak with a Campus Police Officer about your needs. Consider before you arrive the answers to the following questions:
- Does my abuser know where I am? Or, do others s/he knows know where I am?
- Has s/he threatened to find me here?
- If it likely s/he will come here?
- Has s/he presented a continued threat to me?
If you obtained a restraining order from any court, bring it with you to show the officer. Massachusetts has a reciprocal agreement with most states which allows an officer to make an arrest based on a violation of an out-of-state restraining order.
If you do not have a restraining order, officers can assist you in the court process to obtain one locally. We can act as a liaison with the Hampshire County Victim/Witness program and with the Hampshire County District Court.
I experience domestic violence on-campus - how do I get help?
Before An Incident
Take any threats seriously, especially if you have previous experience or knowledge that the other party has a history that includes the use of violence. If you are uncertain about your safety around your abuser, avoid contact and seek Campus Police assistance. Alert friends to your concerns, and develop a plan to signal them if you are in danger. Ask them to call the Campus Police if they have any concerns about responses you give them if you are in danger.
During An Incident
Alert others, if possible to your danger. If you are in a residence hall, make noise to alert neighbors. Try to get to safety and call the Campus Police at 1-911 as soon as possible.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 209A require the following actions from law enforcement officers: Whenever any law officer has reason to believe that a family or household member has been abused or is in danger of being abused, such officer shall use all reasonable means to prevent further abuse. The officer shall take, but is not limited to the following action:
- Remain on the scene where the abuse occurred or was (or is) in danger of occurring as long as the officer has reason to believe that at least one of the parties involved would be in immediate physical danger without the presence of a law officer for a reasonable period to prevent abuse;
- assist the abused person in obtaining medical treatment necessitated by an assault, which may include driving the victim to the emergency room of the nearest hospital, or arranging for appropriate transportation to a health care facility, notwithstanding any law to the contrary. Students will be transported to the Health Center if it is open;
- assist the abused person and dependent children in locating and getting to a safe place, including but not limited to a designated meeting place for a shelter or a family member's or friend's residence (or a similar place of safety).
- give abuse victims immediate and adequate notice of their rights by handing them and reading a form detailing their rights.
- assist the abused person to obtain an emergency restraining order by activating the Emergency Judicial Response System when the court is closed for business - Campus Police Officers can call a judge to get an emergency order;
- inform the victim that the abuser will be eligible for bail and may be promptly released.
- arrest any person the officer witnesses or has probably cause to believe has violated a temporary or permanent vacate, restraining, or no contact-order or judgment.;
- where there are no vacate, restraining, or no-contact orders or judgments in effect, arrest shall be preferred response, i.e., whenever an officer witnesses or has probably cause to believe that a person:
- has committed a felony; or
- has committed an assault and battery violation of G.L. c.265, s. 13A; or
- has committed a misdemeanor involving abuse.
Campus Police Officers can arrest the person violating the order and on campus officers can, at your request, contact the student services staff on call for additional support.
Immediately After An Incident
Get somewhere safe and report your situation to Campus Police immediately. Be sure to alert the Department if your attacker is still nearby and provide a description to officers.
Officers will assist you to obtain medical treatment for any injuries received. They will also assist you in finding a safe place to stay, if needed, whether that be a different location on campus, women's shelter, or other alternative.