How can I get safe?

Call 9-1-1 if you are in immediate danger. Get yourself and your children away from your attacker if you can.

Call your local domestic violence program, such as the YWCA’s 24/7 hotline at (413) 733-7100 or (800) 796-8711. Domestic violence programs offer emergency shelter, safety planning, counseling, and other support and services. The YWCA hotline is free and confidential.

How do I support a loved one who is being abused?

Domestic violence in a relationship can cause a victim to feel alone and be isolated from significant others. As difficult as it is to watch someone you love go through something like this, it is extremely important that the person knows that they have you for support and that you will be there for them regardless of the decision they make. Many times, the person you love and care about may not be ready to leave the relationship and may never choose to leave. People who experience domestic violence often just need to know that you are there to listen and be supportive. Express your concern for their safety but don’t give ultimatums and don’t talk negatively about the abuser. Offer resources for help but understand if needs to be the victims decision to make a call for help. Call your local domestic violence hotline to discuss your concerns. A hotline can also support you as a significant other.

I was told to get a restraining order (209-A), but I'm afraid. What can I do?

It is important or you to discuss your situation with your local domestic violence hotline or with a victim advocate in your local court. Safety planning is important and should be a first step before making any decisions. An advocate will be able to meet with you and develop a plan with you on how you can stay safe. An advocate will also help you assess your own risk to determine what options may be best for you.

I've been hurt. Was I raped?

Rape is forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be a body part or an object. Rape is also a legal term that is defined in Massachusetts by three elements: penetration of any orifice by any object; force or threat of force; against the will of the victim.

Where can I get help if I think I was sexually assaulted or someone I know needs help?

If you think you or a friend or loved one was sexually assaulted, you can call our 24-hour hotline at (413) 733-7100 and talk to a trained sexual assault counselor to discuss your options.

Options can include:

  • Going to an emergency room and asking for assistance. There you can get medical attention needed to determine the risks of STD’s and pregnancy. If you wish, you can request an evidence collection kit at the hospital so that you can preserve any evidence of the attack.
  • Call 9-1-1 or go to the police station to report the incident
  • Pursue prosecution of the attacker. The Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights (M.G.L. c.258B) provides rights and services to crime victims and survivors in order to ensure a meaningful role for them in the criminal justice system. To learn more about your rights, visit
  • Or do nothing listed above. It is your decision to go to the hospital, collect evidence or report it to the police. These are difficult decisions to make, but our Sexual Assault Counselors can provide information and support when making these decisions. We can also offer meeting you at the police department and emergency room to support you and provide advocacy.

You may also just want to meet with someone and talk about it. Sometimes talking to someone helps alleviate some of feelings that you may be experiencing after a sexual assault. After a sexual assault, it is normal to experience a range of emotions. There is no one “normal” reaction to sexual assault.

Some common reactions include:

  • Shock and disbelief
  • Mistrust, sense of betrayal
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Numbness
  • Mood swings
  • Fear of being alone or leaving home
  • Hopelessness
  • Shame
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Nightmares/Insomnia
  • Jumpiness