Improving Protections for Sexual Assault Survivors! #SAAM2021

Did you that the current sexual assault protection law in Massachusetts has loopholes that can prevent survivors from accessing the safety they need?

Victims of domestic violence can obtain a restraining order under Massachusetts statute 209A. Victims of non-intimate partner sexual assault, harassment and stalking can obtain harassment prevention orders under Massachusetts statute 258E. With safety for survivors at the core of both these orders, all survivors should have equal access to the range of protections available. Yet, the extent of protections available to a victim under 209A and 258E are different.

Survivors of non-intimate partner sexual assault deserve equal access protection. Not doing so minimizes the seriousness of these harms and the safety needs of the majority of survivors of sexual assault who experience harm at the hands of co-workers, fellow students, employers, and acquaintances.

Through advocate input, JDI has filed SD1466/HD2220 to improve the protections available to survivors of sexual assault. This bill will allow judges to 1) order a person who causes harm to stay away from a victim 2) issue firearms removal orders (3) act to protect a victim’s pets. This bill would also give survivors of human trafficking an independent basis for accessing these orders.

Check out our factsheet to learn why Massachusetts needs to update protections available to sexual assault survivors:

Healthy Youth Act – Preventing sexual violence!

What is the Healthy Youth Act (HYA)?

The HYA requires that if a public k-12 school in Massachusetts offers sex-ed it must be comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate and LGBTQ inclusive. This includes education about consent and healthy relationships, along with other curriculum standards that give young people the foundation they need to lead healthy lives. HYA does not require schools to teach sex-ed! Schools retain their right to choose whether or not they will offer sex-ed. Students and parents will also still have the option to opt-out of sex-ed if they choose.

Sex-ed helps prevent sexual violence! Giving young people the information and tools needed to identify and have healthy relationships can help prevent sexual violence. Consent is key! When our young people understand giving and receiving consent, we empower them to have autonomy over their bodies. Ensuring sex-ed is LGBTQ inclusive and inclusive of all gender identities gives ALL students a greater sense of belonging and safety. Inclusive and affirming sex-ed also helps reduce the stigma these youth face.

Want to learn more about HYA? Check out these factsheets: