Bristol County To provide a voice of justice and restore a sense of security and comfort for those who have been victims of sexual assault. The Sexual Abuse Unit is a team of trained and seasoned professionals. Within the team are prosecutors, investigators, victim/witness advocates and administrative staff. The focus for all is the successful prosecution of sexual predators. We approach all victims with compassion and empathy. It is part of our goal to minimize trauma and emphasize support and safety. With respect to children, the process begins with the nurturing environment at the Child Advocacy Center (CAC). Children and adults are provided with an array of resources to begin the healing journey. Mission Sexual Abuse Unit
Sexual Abuse Warning Signs • There are various lists of possible physical and behavioral indicators of sexual abuse, some of which are: • Waking up during the night sweating, screaming or shaking with nightmares. • Masturbating excessively or touching others inappropriately (promiscuity). • Reliving a scent or a scene of abuse. • Showing unusually aggressive behavior toward family members, friends, toys, and pets. • Complaining of pain while urinating or having a bowel movement. • Exhibiting symptoms of genital infections such as offensive odors, or symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease. • Smearing of feces • Having symptoms indicating evidence of physical traumas to the genital or anal area. • Bed wetting or excessive urination • Experiencing a loss of appetite or other eating problems (i.e. bulimia, anorexia), including unexplained gagging • Showing unusual fear of a certain place or location. • Signs of depression/anxiety • Fire setting
Sexual Abuse Warning Signs cntd… • Developing frequent unexplained health problems. • Engaging in persistent sexual play with friends, toys or pets. • Having unexplained periods of panic, which may be flashbacks from the abuse. • Regressing to behaviors too young for the stage of development they already achieved. • Initiating sophisticated sexual behaviors. • Indicating a sudden reluctance to be alone with a certain person. • Engaging in self-mutilations, such as sticking themselves with pins or cutting themselves. • Withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities, like school or school performance change. • Asking an unusual amount of questions about human sexuality. Link to Child Abuse “Warning Signs”
Reporting Sexual Abuse First and foremost, find a safe environment — anywhere away from the attacker. Ask a trusted friend to stay with you for moral support. Know that what happened was not your fault and that now you should do what is best for you. Report the attack to police by calling 911. A counselor on the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE can help you understand the process. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN, for free, confidential counseling, 24 hours a day: 1.800.656.HOPE. Women’s Center / Counseling Services in the Bristol Region New Bedford Women's Center, Inc. Sexual Assault ProgramNew Bedford, MA 02740Hotline Phone: 508-999-6636Business Phone: 508-996-3341 Womansplace Crisis CenterBrockton, MA 02301Hotline Phone: 508-588-8255Business Phone: 508-588-2045 Special Services:TTY: 508-894-2869 Independence House/Cape Cod Rape Crisis CenterHyannis, MA 02601Hotline Phone: 508-771-6507Business Phone: 508-771-6507 Special Services:TTY: 508-771-6782
Wayside Trauma Intervention ServicesMilford, MA 01757Hotline Phone: 800-511-5070Business Phone: 508-478-6888 Special Services: Disabled, Elderly, Family, GLBT, Male, Teen, Other Languages: PortugueseTTY: 508-478-4205 Voices Against ViolenceFramingham, MA 01702Hotline Phone: 800-593-1125Business Phone: 508-820-0834 A Safe PlaceNantucket, MA 02554Hotline Phone: 508- 228-2111Business Phone: 508-228-0561 Special Services:TTY: 508-228-7095 Boston Area Rape Crisis CenterCambridge, MA 02139Hotline Phone: 617-492-7273Business Phone: 617-492-8306 Special Services: Family, Male, Teen, SpanishOther Languages: Haitian, Creole, FrenchTTY: 617-492-6434 Link to Reporting Child Abuse
S.A.I.N The Sexual Abuse Intervention Network (S.A.I.N) is a program whose goal is to minimize the trauma to a child. The SAIN program is comprised of the Department of Social Services, local police, and investigators from the District Attorney's Office Child Abuse Unit. SAIN convenes for the purposes of interviewing victims of child abuse. Because representatives of all agencies required to interview the child are at the SAIN and able to view the interview simultaneously, only one interview is necessary, thereby alleviating any undue trauma which may result from multiple interviews. If you or someone you know is a victim of child neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse, there are several options open to you. You may call the Department of Social Services' hot line at 1-800-792-5200; or, if the case involves a criminal offense, contact the police department in the town where the incident occurred and/or the Bristol County District Attorney's Office at 1-800-879-0110. Most S.A.I.N. interviews are conducted at the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in Bristol County. The CAC also provides caretakers the opportunity to speak with medical professionals and/or have the child medically examined in a non-invasive fashion (SANE). S.A.I.N. Brochure
SANE Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program (SANE) • The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program provides medical consultation and direct patient care to victims of sexual assault who present to SANE designated emergency departments and urgent care centers. • SANEs are specially trained and certified professionals skilled in performing quality forensic medical-legal exams. Should a case go to trial, SANEs are then available to testify. • SANEs will document the account of the assault, perform necessary medical exams, testing and treatment, then collect crucial, time sensitive evidence using the Massachusetts Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit distributed by the Executive Office of Public Safety • SANEs perform exams with state of the art forensic equipment and supplies and are kept up to date with the latest in forensic science developments. • The SANE Program also coordinates with district attorneys, medical providers, law enforcement, Boston and State Police Crime Labs, and community-based services to create an efficient and effective team of professionals.
Pediatric SANE • The Massachusetts Pediatric SANE Program trains, certifies, and employs Pediatric SANEs to provide medical forensic sexual abuse exams for children in Child Advocacy Centers across the Commonwealth. In keeping with their principle of “do no harm,” the Program strives to make the experience of a medical forensic exam as positive as possible. • All children who are suspected victims of a sexual abuse are offered a medical encounter within the Bristol Child Advocacy Center. The medical encounter can consist of a visit with the Pediatric SANE team to discuss various health concerns and/or conducting the sexual abuse medical evaluation using the non-invasive Medscope camera. The Medscope video-documentation is a non-invasive system that provides lighting and magnification and allows for permanent documentation of a child’s medical examination. This use of technology to gather medical forensic evidence minimizes the trauma a forensic exam can cause an already victimized child. • Forensic evidence collection is recommended in the following situations: • Any type of suspected penetration, however slight within 72/hours • Bleeding or any type of discharge accompanying an obvious injury within 72/hours • Possibility of human fluids on child’s body
A child/family deserves an evaluation conducted by a Ped SANE who has specialized expertise in using Medscope and other technologically advanced tests. Additionally, these type of tests often reassure the child and the family that the child is healthy. • Referrals for a medical evaluation/encounter at the Children’s Advocacy Center may be requested by a variety of people: • A community medical provider; • A family member; • Department of Social Services • Bristol County DA’s Office; • Law enforcement agencies within Bristol County Link to Bristol Children’s Advocacy Center
Adult SANE SANE: Southeast Region Designated Hospitals Tobey Hospital 43 High Street Wareham, MA 02571 (508) 295-0880 Website: http://www.southcoast.org/services/tobey.html Jordan Hospital 275 Sandwich Street Plymouth, MA 02360 (508) 746-2000 Website: http://www.jordan.org/ Morton Hospital 88 Washington Street Taunton, MA 02780 (508) 828-7000 Website: http://www.mortonhospital.org/ Brockton Hospital 680 Centre Street Brockton, MA 02302-3395 Website: http://www.brocktonhospital.com/ St. Luke’s Hospital 101 Page Street New Bedford, MA 02740 (508) 997-1515 Website: http://www.southcoast.org/services/st.lukes.html Charlton Hospital 363 Highland Avenue Fall River, MA 02720 (508) 679-3131 Website: http://www.southcoast.org/services/charlton.html
Adult SANE cntd… SANE: Southeast Region Rape Crisis Centers A Safe Place A Safe Place/Sexual Assault Program 24 Amelia Drive Nantucket, MA 02554 (508) 228-2111 Greater New Bedford Women’s Center GNBWC Rape Crisis Program 252 County Street New Bedford, MA 02740 (508) 999-6636 Health Care of Southeastern MA Womansplace/HCSEMA P.O. Box 4206 Hyannis, MA 02601 (508) 588-8255 GNBWC/Fall River 231 Weaver Street Fall River, MA 02720 (888) 839-6636 Independence House Cape Cod RCC/Ind. House 160 Basset Lane Hyannis, MA 02601 (800) 439-6507 Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Women’s Support Services of MVCS Box 369 Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 (508) 696-7233 New Hope Sexual Assault Program/New Hope 21 Park Street, Suite 201 Attleboro, MA 02703 (800) 323-4673
Domestic Violence Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of coercive and controlling behavior and tactics used by one person over another to gain power and control. Domestic violence can range from verbal abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and/or physical abuse. Domestic Violence (U.S. Dept of Justice): Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair-pulling, biting, etc. Physical abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use. Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner. Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one's abilities, name-calling, or damaging one's relationship with his or her children. Economic Abuse: Making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one's access to money, or forbidding one's attendance at school or employment. Psychological Abuse: Causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.
Domestic Violence cntd… If you are a victim of abuse, you are NOT alone. For counseling services, support groups, and advocacy services, please call the nearest domestic violence program 24/hours a day: SafeLink --- 1-877-785-2020 SafeLink TTY --- 1-877-521-2601 National Domestic Violence Hotline --- 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) National Sexual Assault Hotline --- 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) • Southeastern Massachusetts Area Services • A Safe Place / (508) 228-2111 • Brockton Family and Community Resources / 1-800-281-6498 • Cape Cod Center for Women / (508) 564-7233 • DOVE / 1-888-314-DOVE (3683) • Greater New Bedford Women’s Center / 1-888-839-6636 • Independence House / 1-800-439-6507 • New Hope / 1-800-323-4673
Domestic Violence cntd… • Our Sister’s Place / (508) 677-0224 • South Shore Women’s Center / (781) 582-0078 • Stanley Street Women’s Center (SSTR) / (508) 675-0087 • Womensplace Crisis Center / (508) 588-2041 • Women’s Support Services / (508) 696-7233
Warning Signs of Domestic Violence • Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse: • Check this list of warning signs to help answer the question: Am I Safe? These behaviors may indicate that you or someone you know is suffering from an abusive relationship. Are you with someone who..... • Is jealous and possessive toward you, won't let you have friends, checks up on you, won't accept breaking up? • Tries to control you by being very bossy, giving orders, making all the decisions; doesn't take your opinion seriously? • Is scary? You worry about how they will react to things you say or do? Threatens you, uses or owns weapons? • Is violent: has a history of fighting, loses temper quickly, brags about mistreating others? • Pressures you for sex, is forceful or scary around sex? Thinks of you as a sex object? Attempts to manipulate or guilt-trip you by saying "If you really loved me you would....." Gets too serious about the relationship too fast? • Abuses drugs or alcohol and pressures you to take them? • Blames you when they mistreat you? Says you provoked them, pressed their buttons, made them do it, led them on? • Has a history of bad relationships and blames the other person for all the problems? • Believes that he/she should be in control and powerful and that you should be passive and submissive? • Has hit, pushed, choked, restrained, kicked, or physically abused you? • Your family and friends have warned you about the person or told you they were worried for you safety? • If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and he/she has threatened to 'out' you to family, friends, or co-workers if you don't comply with certain demands? • If you are an immigrant, he/she has threatened or tried to turn you in to authorities and get you deported in exchange for a specific demand? If you answered "YES" to any of these questions in thinking about yourself or someone you know, help is available. If you need help now call the police at 9-1-1 or SafeLink at 1-877-785-2020.
Restraining Order • What is a restraining order? • A Restraining Order, often referred to as a 209A, Abuse Prevention Order, or a protective order is civil court order that can be issued by a judge if s/he finds that the applicant is at risk of abuse from a family or household member. Violation is a criminal offense. • Am I eligible for a restraining order? • If you are in fear because the defendant attempted to cause you physical harm; caused you physical harm; placed you in fear of physical harm or caused you to engage in sexual relations against your will, you may be grated an order of protection. • What if I am not eligible for a restraining order? • If charges have been filed, the Court can impose a “stay away order” with multiple restrictions. • For information on counseling or assistance in filling out paperwork, call: • New Hope—Taunton (508) 824-4757 • New Hope—Attleboro (508) 695-2113 • Our Sister’s Place—Fall River (508) 677-0224 • New Bedford Women’s Center—New Bedford (508) 992-4222
Restraining Order cntd… • What does a restraining order do? • There are several different orders that may be issued. They are: • Abuse—that the defendant stop abusing you • Contact—that the defendant not contact you in any way • Vacate—that the defendant leave and remain away from your home and work place • Temporary Custody—that you receive temporary custody of your minor children • Support—that the defendant pay support to you for your children • Surrender of guns—that the defendant surrender any guns, license to carry or firearms ID card. • Which courthouse should I go for the order? • Although both the Probate and District Courts may issue Restraining Orders, the appropriate court for a married person would be the Probate Court. Probate handles divorce proceedings, permanent custody and support orders, and restraining orders. However, anyone has the right to go to District Court and you should go to the District Court where you live. In the event that you live outside of Massachusetts, please go to the District Court where the incident took place. There is no charge and you do not need an attorney to file. • What happens if a violation takes place? Violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense and the police must make an arrest if they determine that the terms of the order have been broken. The District Attorney’s Office provides help through the Victim/Witness Assistance Program. The advocates are available Mon-Fri during business hours and can be accessed by calling the District Attorney’s office at 1-800-879-0110. The 24-hour hotline for the Women’s Safety Network in Greater Boston is 1-800-992-2600; or for assistance in locating local battered Women’s Shelters and services in Massachusetts, call 411. If a violation takes place, phone the police immediately. • If he/she is gone by the time the police arrive, can I take out a criminal complaint? Yes, that is a called a civilian complaint. All you need is a copy of the incident report from the police who came to your home. A clerks hearing will be held during which the clerk will hear from both you and the alleged abuser before deciding whether or not to issue the alleged abuser before deciding whether or not to issue the complaint. If not issued, the complaint is dismissed.
Restraining Order cntd… What if I want to drop the charges after the matter has been sent to a judge? You must come into court and explain to the judge why you no longer wish to proceed with the charges. Keep in mind that it is the Commonwealth’s case and you may not be allowed to drop the case. What is a safety plan? Although no one should have to leave their home as a result of their partner abusing them, safety concerns may cause one to choose to leave. Should this situation present itself, a safety plan can be a big help. It will assist you in your efforts to leave.
Sex Offender Registry Board The Sex Offender Registry Board, known as Chapt. 6, Sect. 1780 of the Massachusetts General Laws, mandates that persons convicted of sexual crimes such as rape, indecent assault and battery, aggravated rape, statutory rape, etc., shall be registered as a sex offender. These persons are classified in three levels. Level one offenders are deemed to be a minimal risk to re-offend. Level two offenders are classified as being a moderate risk to re-offend. Level three offenders are considered to have a high risk of re-offending in the future. The public has the right to contact their local police department to obtain information about level two and level three sex offenders. This information is disseminated to the public because the risk of re-offense is high and the degree of dangerousness posed to the public is such that a substantial public safety interest is served by that information being made public. People making inquiries about level two or level three sex offenders must do so at local police departments where the offender resides or where the offender is employed. The information given to the public shall not be used to commit a crime against a sex offender or to engage in illegal discrimination or harassment of the offender. Detailed information may be found at the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board web-site or by calling the board at 1-800-936-3426. Helpful links regarding sex offender laws: www.mass.gov/eops http://sorb.chs.state.ma.us/ http://www.nsopr.gov/ http://www.mass.gov/Eeops/docs/sorb/sorb_law.pdf
Sexually Dangerous Persons In September 1999 Massachusetts enacted a Sexually Dangerous Persons statute. The law provides the District Attorney the opportunity to file a civil commitment petition against a sex offender who is about to be released from custody and whom the District Attorney determines is likely to be sexually dangerous. The legislature defined a Sexually Dangerous Person as: Any person who has been (i) convicted of or adjudicated as a delinquent juvenile or youthful offender by reason of a sexual offense and now suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes the person likely to engage in sexual offenses if not confined to a secure facility; (ii) charged with a sexual offense and was determined to be incompetent to stand trial and who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes such person likely to engage in sexual offenses if not confined to a secure facility; or (iii) previously adjudicated as such by a court of the commonwealth and whose misconduct in sexual matters indicates a general lack of power to control his sexual impulses, as evidenced by repetitive or compulsive sexual misconduct by either violence against any victim, or aggression against any victim under the age of 16 years, and who is, as a result, is likely to attack or otherwise inflict injury on such victims because of his uncontrolled or uncontrollable desires. (M.G.L. c. 123A, §1. The statute provides a treatment center for those determined as a Sexually Dangerous Person for an unspecified period of one day to life. The statute further provides “ [a]ny person committed to the treatment center shall be entitled to file a petition for examination and discharge once in every twelve months.” G/L/ 123A, §9.
Sexually Dangerous Persons cntd… The commitment process is driven by statue. A prison, jail, or any agency with custody of a person who has been charged with a sexual offense is responsible for notifying the District Attorney six months prior to a person’s release as to whether or not that person has been found competent to stand trial. Once notified, the District Attorney reviews the record to try to determine whether the sex offender is likely to be sexually dangerous under the criteria mandated by law. The District Attorney must also determine that it is likely that the offender has the required mental condition stated in the statute. Should the District Attorney make such a decision and file a sexually dangerous person petition, a probable cause hearing shall be conducted. Probable cause is only determined through facts and qualified expert testimony. If the court determines that probable cause exists, the court shall commit the person named in the petition to the treatment center for examination and diagnosis by two Qualified Examiners. The person is entitled to visit with a psychologist or psychiatrist who meets the requirements of a Qualified Examiner to perform an examination on his behalf. To proceed to trial, the Commonwealth must have affirmative expert evidence that the person is a sexually dangerous person. Commitment will occur only where the judge or jury finds unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that the person named in the petition is a sexually dangerous person.
Victim Witness Program Link to the Victim Assistance Page
FAQ How will I know if I can believe allegations about sexual assault–do people make false accusations? The majority of victims tend to minimize sexual assault, or out of self-blame, fear, or shame do not disclose the abuse. This is particularly true of child victims. The best approach is to believe the victim, listen to his or her allegations, offer your support, and support the victim in getting the help that he or she needs. I am very concerned about protecting my child from this type of crime. What should I do? There are three important steps that can be used as a precautionary method to protect children from such harm. 1)Remained Informed: Know what your child does and who they deal with and come in contact with. Stay focused on your child’s behavior to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary. 2)Establish good communication with your children. This way, if anything did happen to your child, your child has a better chance of talking to you about it. 3)Review with your child the age appropriate conducts/behaviors. 18/months: Teach your child the proper names for body parts 3-5/years: Teach your child about private parts of the body and how to say “no” to sexual advances. Give straightforward answers about sex 5-8/years: Discuss safety away from home and the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch.” Encourage your child to talk about scary experiences 8-12/years: Stress personal safety. Start to discuss rules of sexual conduct that are accepted by the family 13-18/years: Stress personal safety. Discuss rape, date rape, sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancy. Your child’s teacher, school counselor, or pediatrician can help you teach your child to avoid sexual abuse.
I think my child was a victim, I do not know how to handle the situation. First and foremost, report the incident to the authorities. Next, the best thing to remember in such a situation is that your child needs you-more than ever- to be calm, nurturing, and protective. The child has endured one of the most profound violations of his or her life. In order to help your child, and prevent further trauma to him or her, you have to be strong for them. Seek help for your child. Seek help for yourself in the form of specialized counseling to help you handle your reactions. How can children ever recover from such an experience? Children are amazingly resilient. Research suggests that children who are supported when they disclose or when the victimization comes to light heal more quickly than those who are not believed. A supportive family response and professional intervention can also help to heal child victims and their families. How will I know if my child is a victim? The better informed you are about what to look for, the better the chance that you can know and be able to help your child. Trust your instincts; you know your child best. Watch out for any behavioral and/or physical indication that your child may be victimized. ( warning signs) Is the court process terribly traumatic for child victims? Might it be worse than the abuse itself? If child victims are believed and supported, the court process can actually be a helpful experience for a child. Remember, part of the trauma of sexual assault is the loss of control over one's own body. The court process can give power back to the child. In addition, the Bristol County Child Advocacy Center (CAC), where child victims can be interviewed in a child-friendly atmosphere by skilled and trained victim-witness personnel, can be very reassuring to the child and his or her family. (Bristol CAC).
If I suspect someone in my family of sexually abusing my child or another child in my family or neighborhood, what should I do? Should I confront them? Your best approach is to contact the authorities and let them investigate. If you suspect the abuse because of something your child or another child has disclosed to you, your most important role is to believe and support the child. (CAU Reporting and SAU Reporting). What do I do, or whom do I tell, if I am sexually assaulted or my child is sexually abused? Report the attack to police by calling 911. A counselor on the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE can help you understand the process. I do not know how to help a friend who has been sexually assaulted. Listening to your friend without judging his or her choices is the best thing you can do. Reinforce the message that your friend is not to blame for what happened. Be sensitive to new fears and behaviors associated with the assault (such as avoiding crowds or feeling unsafe in previously comfortable locations). Most importantly, give your friend time to heal and let him or her know you are there to listen whenever needed. What should I do to preserve evidence if I was sexually abused? Do not shower Do not wash hands or any body parts Do not change clothes Do not alter any physical evidence if at all possible Write down all the details you can recall about the attack and the attacker If you suspect you were drugged, ask that a urine sample be collected Do take an extra set of clothing for after the exam (your clothing could contain evidence)
If I report sexual assault, will my name be made public? • If the victim is a child, then statute protects the child’s name from being publicized. However, if you are an adult, there is a possibility that your name will be public record. • What happens when a convicted sexual offender is about to be released after serving their sentence? • Link to Sexually Dangerous Person and Victim Witness Page • What are some safety tips to prevent sexual assault and/or abuse? • Talk to your child about sexual abuse. A good time to do this is when your child’s school is sponsoring a sexual abuse program • Teach your child about the privacy of body parts • Listen when your child tries to tell you something, especially when it seems hard for him/her to talk about it • Give your child enough of your time so that the child will not seek attention from other adults • Know with whom your child is spending time. Be careful about letting your child spend time in ‘out-of-the-way’ places with other adults or older children. • Call the authorities if you suspect that your child or some else’ child is being abused or is at risk of being abused
Resources / Links Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Emerge - Counseling Men Who Batter Family Violence Prevention Fund Jane Doe, Inc. -- The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Massachusetts Department of Public Health – Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services Massachusetts Department of Social Services Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance National Center for Missing & Exploited Children National Center of Sexual and Domestic Violence National Center for Victims of Crime National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Office on Violence Against Women Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network Stop Family Violence Violence Against Women Online Resources Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
Contact Us Bristol County District Attorney’s Office 888 Purchase Street New Bedford, MA 02740 (508) 997-0711 Child Abuse Investigators Exts. 237 or 238 Fax: (508) 997-0396