Jane Doe Inc. (JDI), the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, applauds the Massachusetts House for unanimously passing H.4241, An Act to Prevent Abuse and Exploitation. This legislation will advance essential protections for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence across the Commonwealth, including stronger protections against image-based sexual assault – sometimes referred to as revenge porn – and coercive control, a pattern of deliberate behavior by an abuser that substantially restricts another person’s safety and autonomy.
Massachusetts is one of only two states, along with South Carolina, with no current protections against image-based sexual assault. An Act to Prevent Abuse and Exploitation will address this gap by creating diversion-centered approaches to curb this behavior, as well as establishing both civil and criminal pathways for victims to seek protection.
In addition, the legislation will expand the state’s definition of domestic abuse to include different forms of coercive control – reflecting the broader spectrum of abuse rooted in systems of power and control and experienced by thousands of people throughout Massachusetts.
We are grateful to our House sponsors of the original bills – Representative Roy, Representative Higgins, and Representative Nguyen – as well as Judiciary Committee Chair Day and Speaker Mariano for their support and leadership in making this legislation a priority. Alongside survivors and advocates across Massachusetts, we hope the State Senate will take up this essential, lifesaving legislation without delay, and bring us one step closer to achieving justice for survivors and preventing future violence.
ABOUT JDI: JDI (Jane Doe Inc., The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence) is the only statewide membership and advocacy coalition in Massachusetts dedicated to addressing sexual and domestic violence. We aim to support survivors and end violence by promoting gender equity, racial justice, and safety for everyone. JDI’s mission is to complement and support the expertise and leadership of our 60 community-based member organizations with a statewide strategy involving public and private partners to tackle systemic issues that foster and perpetuate violence, to create policies and explore innovative solutions that improve the lives of survivors, and to prevent gender-based violence. To learn more visit https://janedoe.org.