What are my options?

If you have experienced an incident on the Spectrum of Violence, choosing whether or not to report is a personal and potentially difficult decision.  We want you to get the help and support you deserve and we respect your decisions in regard to your own care. 

Any member of the University community who believes they have been the victim of gender-based violence is welcome to seek support and to report the incident if they so choose. 

Options

Talk to someone confidential for information & counseling

You may wish to speak to someone if you have been harmed or experienced trauma.  Professional resources are meant to provide options beyond your individual social network and are most helpful when they are the option selected by you, the person in need.  There can be benefits to talking to a trained resource- you will be provided with information about options, you will be given the space to talk in a non-judgmental environment, and you can speak in confidence knowing that no information will be shared outside your conversation.  Not everyone is ready to speak to someone regarding their experience and if that is the case, it is okay. Talking to someone is not required.

  • OSAPR has a staff of 6 trained rape crisis counselors, available to all members of the Harvard community.  Rape crisis counselors are certified by the state after completing 40(+) hours of training.  In Massachusetts rape crisis counselors are granted the legal privilege of confidentiality.  This means any staff person you speak with is able to maintain your confidentiality.  We are trained to address sexual harassment, gender-based violence, unhealthy or abusive relationships, and sexual assault.  Our Survivor Advocate can be reached 9-5 Monday through Friday by phone, our website, or dropping by.  A typical meeting lasts 1 hour, although you may find it helpful to spend more or less time in your appointment.  The appointment is structured around what you find most helpful.  You may also reach a counselor 24 hours a day on the support and information hotline.  
  • Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) therapists provide undergraduate and graduate students with multi-session therapy.  You may choose to speak to someone from CAMHS in regard to your history or managing symptoms associated with recovering from trauma- anxiety, depression, stress, and sexual or relationship concerns.  Some people find it useful to combine long-term therapy with OSAPR services to address immediate needs.   
  • Response Peer Counseling operates a hotline and drop-in services for undergraduates with questions or crisis relating to relationships, sex, and consent.  Counselors are trained for 50 hours a semester.  The hotline operates during the academic year from 9pm to 8am and drop-ins are welcome to Lowell Basement E-13 Sun-Thurs 9pm-12am.  Some people find it helpful to have a conversation with a peer resource as opposed to talking to a university administrator.  The conversations you have with Response are confidential and non-directive.  This means you will be provided with information and have the power to make the decisions that are right for you.

Seek Interim Measures (academic, housing, work-related)

Interim Measures, or accommodations, are for individuals whose lives have been negatively impacted by an experience (or experiences) of sexual violence and could benefit from assistance with their academic, work, or living situation.  Interim measures are unique to each person's needs and can be accessed through OSAPR or your local Title IX Coordinator.  Even in circumstances where you aren't sure what measures would be helpful, these resources might be able to identify options that could help reduce your stress.  Implementation may depend upon approval from others.  For example, an academic measure would require support from the faculty member teaching the course and a work measure would require approval from a supervisor. The benefit of working with OSAPR or Title IX is the discretion with which these measures will be approached.  The person pursuing these measures will gather information about your options and present them to you so you can choose the one that feels best.  We want to acknowledge that it can be really difficult to ask for help, but also recognize that trauma causes and exacerbates your stressors.  Interim measures are meant to mitigate some of the stressors in your day-to-day life, giving you a bit more breathing room.  If you aren't sure this is the right option for you, you can always ask.

Obtain a No-Contact Order (on campus)*

No Contact Orders (NCO) or Stay Away Orders are offered by each School’s Administrative Board as an interim safety measure with or without a formal investigation. Someone might seek a NCO if they are feeling threatened, harassed, or intimidated by another member of the Harvard community. At Harvard, NCOs are mutual, meaning that it is the responsibility of both parties to refrain from intentionally interacting with one another. Whether on- or off-campus, the types of interactions that are restricted include but are not limited to:

  1. in-person contact

  2. through a third party like friends or family members or even retailers

  3. by phone including calls, text messages, and other communication methods

  4. via written communication like notes, letters, emails, or instant messenger

  5. via social media

A NCO differs from a court-granted Restraining Order (RO) in several important ways.  First, there is no public record of a NCO.  Second, a NCO is a directive given to both parties asking them to take reasonable steps to stay away from the other person. In contrast, a RO is given to the responding party making it their responsibility to stay a determined distance away from the person bringing the complaint. Third, violating a NCO is grounds for adjudication through the administrative board while a RO is enforceable by law.

File a University Complaint*

File a Criminal Report*

Obtain a Restraining Order*

In the state of Massachusetts there are two types of Restraining Orders that may be available to you: Abuse Prevention Order (APO) and Harassment Prevention Order (HPO).  The information that follows is directly from mass.gov.

An APO, also called a 209A, is available for individuals seeking an order against someone with whom they have a familial, romantic, or residential relationship. An order may be granted if the person you are seeking an order against is:

  • A person to whom you are or were married,
  • Someone with whom you are or were living,
  • A family member related by blood or marriage,
  • The parent of your child even if you were never married, or
  • Someone with whom you are or have been in a serious dating relationship.  

and you are suffering from abuse because they have:

  • Harmed or attempted to harm you physically,
  • Caused you to fear that you are likely to be physically hurt at any moment, or
  • Forced you to have sex or threatened you into having sex.

In contrast, an HPO, or 258E, is available regardless of your relationship to the person you are seeking an order against. Criteria for requesting this order include 

  • if someone has committed 3 or more acts:or someone has forced you to have sex or threatened you into having sex at least once,
    • that were willful and malicious.  This means it was done on purpose and was done for cruelty, hostility or revenge.
    • and were aimed at you,
    • and were intended to cause you fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property, “Abuse” means causing or attempting to cause physical harm, or causing fear of imminent serious physical harm.
    • and did in fact cause you fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property
  • or someone has committed one of the following crimes against you at least once:
    • indecent assault and battery
    • rape
    • statutory rape
    • assault with intent to rape
    • enticement of a child
    • criminal stalking
    • criminal harassment or
    • drugging for sexual intercourse

With an order you may request:

  1. The defendant shall not physically assault or threaten you.
  2. The defendant shall not do anything that makes you reasonably fear that the defendant might cause you physical harm.
  3. The defendant shall not use force or a threat of any kind to make you have sex unwillingly.  

You can request that the defendant be ordered to have no contact with you. This means that:  

  1. The defendant shall not live with you.
  2. The defendant must stay a specific number of feet/yards away from you.  The distance that the defendant must remain away from you is be listed on the order
  3. The defendant shall not contact you in any way.  This includes, but is not limited to, phone calls, text messages, emails, gifts and contact through friends, relatives, neighbors or anyone else, sending or posting messages on facebook, twitter or any other social media site, unless specifically allowed in the order.
  4. If you are already at a place and the defendant comes to that same location, the defendant must leave that place as quickly as possible.

You can request that the defendant be ordered to leave a residence (home). This means that:

  1. The defendant must leave your residence immediately and stay away from that residence while the order is in effect.  The defendant must stay away from the residence even if you are not there at the time.  If the residence is an apartment, the defendant may be ordered to remain away from the entire building, even if the lease is in the defendant’s name.
  2. The defendant shall not damage the residence in any way.
  3. The defendant shall not shut off any utilities or interrupt your mail delivery.

You can request that the defendant be ordered to stay away from your work. This means:  

The defendant must stay away from the place where you work as long as the order is in effect.  The defendant must stay away from that workplace even if you are not there at the time.

You can request that your residential, workplace and/or school address not appear on the order.

If the defendant does not know your current residential, workplace or school address(es) you may request that these addresses be kept confidential.  This information would only be available to the court, the police, the district attorney or others specifically allowed by you or the court.  In all cases, this information is not available to the public.

You can request that you be given custody of children. This means:

The children will live with you unless or until a judge changes that order.

You can request that the defendant be also ordered to have no contact with the children. This means:

  1. The defendant must stay a specific number of feet/yards away from them (the distance is listed on the order) and have no contact with them while the order is in effect unless and until a judge permits contact with the children.  
  2. The court can also order the defendant to stay a specific number of feet/yards away from a child’s school or daycare.
  3. If the defendant is permitted to have contact with the children but not with you and the children live with you, the defendant must speak only to the children, not to you.
  4. The Probate Court can change a District Court Judge’s restraining order with regard to custody and contact with children.  Even if the Probate Court changes the parts of the order that deal with the children, all other parts of the District Court order remain in effect.

You may request that the defendant be ordered to pay certain money. This means:

  1. The defendant can be ordered to pay temporary support if he or she might be legally obligated to do so (for example, if you are married),
  2. The defendant can be ordered to pay child support for his or her children, or
  3. The defendant can be ordered to pay for costs related to the abuse, such as medical bills, lost wages or for changing the locks.

For assistance with any of these measures, OSAPR can connect you to a number of legal resources.  OSAPR will also provide court accompaniment and emotional support throughout the process.

Options for non-Harvard students

  • If you do not go to Harvard, but your assailant does, you may still be able to file with the ODR and will have access to our Title IX Coordinators as well as OSAPR resources. 
  • If you go to Harvard, but your assailant does not, we can help you communicate with their school or the police to learn what options are available.

View the University Policy and Procedures

A database of all Harvard schools' policies and procedures related to sexual assault and sexual harassment can be found on the Title IX Office's Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policies and Procedures. Please contact OSAPR if you'd like assistance understanding reporting policies and procedures osapr@fas.harvard.edu

*OSAPR's Survivor Advocate is available to help navigate this process or answer questions in a confidential setting. Call the hotline (617)495-9100 or make an appointment.

For additional university offices, local agencies, and national organizations, check out our Resources section.

Regardless of which options you choose, you do not have to do this alone.  We support your right to make the decisions that are best for you.