Sexual Assault

It is illegal for anyone to force you into any sexual act without your consent.

In Massachusetts, the legal definition describes rape as "having sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person, by compelling such a person to submit by force against her or his will, or compelling such a person to submit by threat of bodily injury." In this state, rape is considered a felony and is punishable by imprisonment.

It is not your fault if you are raped by someone you know.

The majority of rape survivors are raped by people they know: someone they see at the bus stop, the guy who lives down the hall, a person they've dated, or a partner. In the stereotypical image of rape, a woman walking alone at night is suddenly attacked by a strange man. Women (or men) whose experiences do not fit this scenario often have difficulty identifying what happened to them as rape. While these non-stereotypical rapes may be more difficult to prosecute, they are no less damaging, and the survivors have a right to all resources available.

Only you have the right to decide when and with whom you will have sex.

If you do not struggle against a rapist or sustain cuts and bruises you may fear that no one will regard your experiences as a "real rape". However, it is natural to feel paralyzed by fear; furthermore, fighting back is not always the easiest and wisest thing to do.

57% of rapes occur while on a date.

"Date rape" and rape by someone with whom you have previously had sexual relations may be particularly confusing, due to the common assumption that such people are "entitled" to have sex with you. Another pervasive belief which can sometimes pressure people is that "once you start something you have to finish it". The underlying assumption behind this belief is that consent for some degree of sexual activity includes consent for all degrees of sexual activity. You have the right to stop at any point.

If you have not consented to sexual intercourse, it is rape.

Consent equals freely given agreement to a sexual activity. If you are forced to give consent this is called coercion. Additionally, silence, previous sexual relations, or agreement given while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is not considered consent.

  • More than 60% of the rape victims have some acquaintance with their attackers.
  • 75% of men and 55% of women involved in acquaintance rapes were drinking at the time of the incident.
  • Only 10-16% of rapes are ever reported to the police.

Statistics on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

  • Women with a history of rape or attempted rape during adolescence were almost twice as likely to experience a sexual assault during college, and were three times as likely to be victimized by a husband.
  • Sexual assault is reported by 33% to 46% of women who are being physically assaulted by their husbands.
  • Children who are raised in a family where there is domestic violence are eight times more likely to be sexually molested within that family.
  • 40% of rapes take place in the victim's home.
  • Approximately 28% of rape victims are raped by their husbands and boyfriends, 35% by acquaintances, and 5% by other relatives.
  • One out of every seven wives is raped by her husband.
  • As many as 14% of all married women in the US and at least 40% of battered wives have been raped by their husbands.