Jessica Karmazyn Journal Contributor
In Boston, a city with a high population of college students, how to be safe and how to get counseling is strongly advised in regards to sexual assault and rape. Non-profit organizations like the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) are available for counseling 24/7.
“The crime of rape occurs when the offender has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person and compels such person to submit by force and against his/her will, or compels such person to submit by threat or bodily injury,” the Suffolk Sexual Misconduct policy states.
One in every four women and one in every six men are sexually assaulted or raped and most survivors are under the age of 18, according to the BARCC, which helps many college students overcome their assaults.
“Folks have lots of options when they call our counseling services,” said Meg Bossong, manager of community engagement at BARCC.
They have two 24-hour services; one that focuses on medical advocacy and the other that focuses on receiving psychiatric treatment. Their hotline provides answers to any general questions whether the sexual assault happened five days ago or 15 years ago. Many calls have been made to this hotline by siblings or friends of survivors as well.
“We want to make sure people are voluntarily coming for information,” Bossong said.
If a survivor does not contact the hotline for counseling, BARCC will not pressure or force anyone into receiving help. They are an organization that believes in helping the survivor move forward, rather then discussing the details of their experience.
“We help people navigate what their best options are, and look at how to prevent people from being in a sexually abusive environment,” Bossong said.
The BARCC counseling is completely confidential. Since sexual assault and rape are under reported crimes, the staff of this organization understands that the survivor has good reasons for reporting, while others have good reasons for not reporting to the authorities. For the individuals who choose to report the crime, there is a legal advocacy service that is separate from the counseling services.
“There are a number of different services such as individual or group counseling that can be set up by appointment. We also offer free counseling for up to 12 weeks,” Bossong said.
With an organization like BARCC, if any Suffolk student has encountered sexual assault or rape, they are welcome to contact their 24-hour hotline at (800) 841-8371 or go to www.surviverape.org.
“We really just want to help the survivor in any way we can,” Bossong said.
A way for students to stay safe in a busy city like Boston is to download an app or program onto a cell phone that allows the individual to contact help right away.
“Circle of 6″ is available on iPhones and Androids and is designed to get anyone home safely no matter where they are or who the person is with. This app has different symbols for different ways of communicating. By entering six close friends or family, the app allows the individual to send out a need for assistance quickly and easily. There is a call option, a text option, and a car option which sends a text message to the six people chosen with the address of where the friend or family member needs to be picked up from.
This app can be used on an uncomfortable date or even a fear of walking home alone at night.
“College students need to look at their social groups and see if they are in a safe environment. We want to see how we can make dorms and social groups safer,” Bossong said.