Sexual Violence Awareness & Prevention
At HCC, we are committed to fostering civility, respect, and an environment free of violence or harassment. We believe that everyone can play a role in stopping sexual violence. The information provided here is intended to educate the members of our community and increase awareness of this important issue.
Sexual violence can come in many forms, including harassment and stalking, incest, domestic and dating violence, and sexual assault by a partner, acquaintance, or stranger. These behaviors exist on a spectrum that ranges from inappropriate remarks to controlling behavior, harassment, coercion, and violence. When we talk about stopping sexual violence, we don't just mean interrupting a sexually violent event, but halting these behaviors before they advance to sexual violence.
Sexual violence is prohibited under Title IX of the Educational Amendment Act of 1972, state law and the Policy on Affirmative Action. Under the Board of Higher Education/Massachusetts Community Colleges' Policy on Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity & Diversity ("Policy on Affirmative Action") sexual violence is defined as any sexual activity where consent is not obtained or able to be freely given. This includes intimate partner violence, such as stalking, dating violence, or domestic violence.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent. This includes:
- Inappropriate touching
- Attempted rape
- Vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
- Child molestation
Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Examples of this are voyeurism (when someone watches private sexual acts), exhibitionism (when someone exposes him/herself in public), and sexual harassment. It can happen in the home of someone you know, on a date, or by a stranger in an isolated place.
Consensual sexual activity involves the presence of the word "yes" — without incapacitation of alcohol, drugs, pressure, force, threat, or intimidation. Consent can be withdrawn at any time without fear of humiliation or retaliation. Silence does not indicate consent.
Sexual Assault Facts
- One in five women are victims of completed or attempted sexual assault while in college.
- Most victims know their perpetrators: 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.
- Parties are often the site of the crime: a 2007 study found that 58% of incapacitated rapes and 28% of forced rapes took place at a party.
- Men and boys are also at risk: 1 in 71 men - or almost 1.6 million - have been raped during their lives.
- Rape and sexual assault are never the victim's fault — no matter where or how it happens.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in an intimate relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another partner. Domestic violence can be:
Actions that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound are used to maintain control.
Domestic Violence Facts
- One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
- An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
- 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
- Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
- Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.
You can't completely protect yourself from sexual assault, but there are things you can do to help reduce your risk of being assaulted.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
- Notice who is out there and what is going on.
- Lock your door and windows, even if you leave for just a few minutes. Don't prop open self-locking doors.
- Know who's on the other side of the door before you open it.
- Watch your keys. Don't lend them, leave them, or lose them...and have them ready to use.
- Be wary of isolated spots, like underground garages, offices after business hours, and apartment laundry rooms.
- Park in well-lit areas and lock the car, even if you will only be gone a few minutes.
Plan for Safety
- Keep your car in good shape, with plenty of gas in the tank.
- Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Vary your route. Stay in well-traveled, well-lit areas.
- In case of car trouble, call for help on your cell phone. If you do not have a phone, put the hood up, lock the doors, and put a banner in the rear window that says, "Help. Call Police."
- Learn about "date rape" drugs that can be slipped into a drink when you're not looking. Never leave your drink unattended, no matter where you are. If you have left your drink alone, just get a new one.
- When you go to a social gathering, go with friends. Check in with each other throughout the evening, and leave together. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way out of a bad situation.
Be Self Aware
- Walk with confidence. The more confident you look, the stronger you appear.
- Be assertive - don't let anyone violate your space.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut. If you see something suspicious, call 911 immediately.
- Know your limits when it comes to using alcohol.
Educate Yourself & Others
The following resources will help you to:
- Understand the range of behaviors that constitute sexual violence
- Discover what you can do to reduce your risk of sexual assault
- Recognize healthy and unhealthy relationships
- Learn how to make a difference
Womanshelter/Compañeras (Domestic abuse resources for the Pioneer Valley)
For a person subjected to an act of sexual violence, there can be time-sensitive decisions to make about sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and collecting physical evidence in the event of prosecution. Therefore, victims of sexual violence are advised to:
- Protect yourself and get medical attention: Find a safe place as soon as possible and seek medical attention immediately. Injuries and exposure to disease may not be immediately apparent. A medical examination can provide necessary treatment and collect important evidence. It is recommended that a physical exam be conducted within 72 hours of the incident. Submitting to a physical exam does not mean that a victim is required to press charges. This action merely preserves the option to do so. Designated college personnel can assist in providing transportation to the hospital.
- Preserve evidence: It is important to preserve all physical evidence following an act of sexual violence. Physical evidence may be necessary in the event criminal prosecution is pursued. If possible, a victim should not to wash, eat, drink, douche, clean, use the bathroom, or change clothes. If clothes are changed, all clothes that were worn at the time of the incident should not be cleaned and should be placed into a clean paper bag.
- Seek health and support services: A variety of health and support services are available on and off campus for victims of sexual violence. For information about such services, including counseling, please contact Nicholas D'Agostino, Affirmative Action/Title IX Coordinator, at 413.552.2173. Call a friend or family member that you trust. You also can call a crisis center or a hotline to talk with a counselor. Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal. It is important to get counseling from a trusted professional.
In Western Massachusetts, contact:
Greenfield: NELCWIT Hotline, 413.772.0806
Springfield: YWCA, 800.796.8711
Westfield: YWCA of Western Mass Hotline, 800.479.6245
Spanish language assistance is available at the Llámanos Spanish Language 24-hour Helpline at 800.223.5001.
Current contact information on rape crisis centers in Massachusetts can be found at the Commonwealth's Executive Office of Health and Human Services' website under Consumer Information.
While at the hospital:
- If you decide you want to file a police report, you or the hospital staff can call the police from the emergency room.
- Ask the hospital staff to connect you with the local rape crisis center. The center staff can help you make choices about reporting the attack and getting help through counseling and support groups.
- WELL CONNECT: HCC offers free, comprehensive wellness services through the WellConnect Student Assistance Program. Through WellConnect, students, their families and members of their household have access to one-on-one, 24/7 mental health counseling as well as numerous other resources.
- Students can access WellConnect at any time by calling 866.640.4777 (voice/TTY) or via the WellConnect website. Students in need of support on campus during normal college business hours (Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) should come to the Student Affairs office in FR 224 or contact us at 413.552.2390 for immediate assistance.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE VICTIM'S RIGHTS & INFORMATION
The Board of Higher Education/Massachusetts Community Colleges' Policy on Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity & Diversity ("Policy on Affirmative Action") provides information to assist members of the college community with understanding the rights, protections and services available to victims of sexual violence. This information is available in Sexual Violence: Victim's Rights and Information.
Sexual assault is a criminal offense. HCC encourages anyone who has experienced, witnessed, or heard of a sexual assault to report it so the survivor can get help and the college can respond appropriately.
The form provided here is for those who wish to report a sexual assault anonymously. Please read through the defined defenses below and fill out the form completely. Your report will be sent anonymously to Nicholas D'Agostino, HCC's Affirmative Action officer and Title IX coordinator. If you wish to make a report through campus police, you may call 413.552.2211 from a cell phone or off-campus land line, or dial 2211 from any on campus phone, and you will be connected with an HCC police officer.
If you would like to speak with a counselor, please visit the Student Affairs office in FR 224 or contact us at 413.552.2231 and counseling will be arranged. For 24/7 mental health counseling you may also contact WellConnect at any time by calling 800.326.6142 (voice/TTY) or via the WellConnect website.
In compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) (20 U.S.C. section 1092), information submitted via this form reflecting a reportable crime, as defined by the Clery Act, will be included in the Campus Safety Daily Crime Log. No names are included in the Daily Crime Log.
Forcible Sex Offenses
Forcible Rape: The carnal knowledge of a person; forcibly and/or against the person's will; or not forcibly or against the person's will where the victim is incapable of giving his/her temporary permanent mental or physical incapacity (or because of his/her youth).
Forcible Sodomy: Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, forcibly and/or against the person's will; or forcibly or against the person's will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her youth or because of his/her temporary permanent mental of physical incapacity.
Sexual Assault with an Object: The use of an object or instrument to unlawfully penetrate, however slight, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, forcibly and/or against that person's will or not forcibly against the person's will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her youth or because of his/her temporary permanent mental or physical incapacity.
Forcible Fondling: The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, forcibly and/or against the person's will; or not forcibly and/or against the person's will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her youth of because of his/her temporary permanent mental of physical incapacity.
Non-Forcible Sex Offenses
Incest: Non-forcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
Statutory Rape: Non-forcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.
The Federal Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act requires colleges and universities to issue a statement advising the campus community where state law enforcement agency information concerning registered sex offenders may be obtained. The act also requires registered sex offenders to provide to appropriate state officials notice of each institution of higher education in that state at which the offender intends to be employed, or is enrolled as a student, or intends to be enrolled as a student.
How to Inquire
Members of the Holyoke Community College community may request information about sex offenders in Massachusetts at the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board (by telephone at 978.740.6400 and online) or the City of Holyoke Police Department at 413.322.6900.
Note the following
There are penalties for improper use of Sex Offender Registry. Information contained in the Sex Offender Registry shall not be used to commit a crime against an offender or to engage in illegal discrimination or harassment of an offender. Any person who improperly uses Sex Offender Registry information shall be subject to all penalties, fines, and or imprisonment.
Policies concerning sexual harassment and sexual assault can be found in the Policy on Affirmative Action, Equality and Diversity published by the Board of Higher Education of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Additional policies pertaining to student conduct can be found in the Campus Conduct Policies section of the HCC Student Handbook.