Response is one of the oldest peer counseling groups at Harvard. Every night, we are staffed by two undergraduate women, and welcome both callers and drop-ins. We take students and their concerns seriously, and our approach is non-judgmental and completely confidential. We are trained primarily in issues surrounding relationships, sexual assault, harassment, and abuse. However, we welcome calls from anyone who needs to talk, and from every gender and sexual orientation.
If you want to talk about it, we’re here to listen. We are not here to judge you, push you, or name your experiences, only to listen and support. We can provide information and help you identify your options. If you are looking for long-term support, legal or medical advice, or other services, we can make referrals and help you find what you need.
Our room is open from Sunday through Thursday nights, 9pm-12am. We are located in Lowell basement, room E-13. We also staff a hotline, and can be reached every night from 9pm-8am at 617-495-9600. Please feel free to call or drop in any time!
Why We Exist
Sexual assault, violence, and harassment are endemic in our society. Despite this, many times survivors feel that they have no one to talk to about these experiences, and end up having to face them alone. Socially and legally, these issues are often marginalized and stigmatized, and as a result, not talked about.
Response first and foremost is concerned with the wellbeing of survivors of any sort of trauma or violence and strives to offer a safe, confidential space to talk about experiences or emotions that might otherwise go unshared or unheard. We also hope to raise awareness of the prevalence of these issues and the more general rape-culture, perhaps creating a more public dialogue to increase victim support.
Sexual Violence at Harvard
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Student Handbook defines sexual misconduct as encompassing the following behaviors:
Rape includes any act of sexual intercourse that takes place against a person's will or that is accompanied by physical coercion or the threat of bodily injury. Unwillingness may be expressed verbally or physically. Rape may also include intercourse with a person who is incapable of expressing unwillingness or is prevented from resisting, as a result of conditions including, but not limited to, those caused by the intake of alcohol or drugs. Rape includes not only unwilling or forced vaginal intercourse, but also the sexual penetration of any bodily orifice with a body part or other object.
Sexual assault includes any unwanted touching or fondling of a sexual nature that is accompanied by physical force or threat of bodily injury.
Sexual misconduct may also include other serious or persistent unwanted sexual contact or conduct, such as harassment, threats, intimidations, or unwanted touching or fondling.
It is estimated that 20-25% of college women will be victims of an attempted or completed rape during their college careers. In 90 percent of college cases, the offender is known to the victim, usually a classmate, friend, or acquaintance.
80 Harvard students called or came in to the OSAPR during the 2008-2009 academic year after experiencing a rape, sexual assault, or relationship violence.
Sexual Violence in the United States
In the United States, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men reported experiencing an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives. 
In Massachusetts alone, 4,418 adolescents and adults are sexually assaulted each year - that’s 12 people each day and one every two hours. 
Females ages 16-19 are four times more likely to be the victims of sexual assault or rape than the general population.
Survivors often know their attackers.
75 percent of all survivors know their attackers; 80 percent of all rapes occur in the home.
90 percent of rape survivors on college campuses know their attackers.
While most rapists are male, most males are not rapists.
Common characteristics of perpetrators:
Most “undetected” rapists (those who have not been convicted or served time in jail) are repeat rapists who commit an average of six rapes each.
Instead of using weapons, threats, or extreme physical force or violence, most undetected rapists premeditate their attacks, identify and isolate victims, and deliberately use only as much force as necessary, such as psychological weapons and alcohol.
Rape and sexual assault are significantly underreported.
Nearly 60 percent of rape/sexual assault victims did not report their victimization to the police in 2006, according to National Crime Victimization Survey data.
Rape is not miscommunication. It is a crime.
95 percent of sexual assaults that were reported were determined to be substantiated with sound evidence.
Department of Justice (US); 2000. Publication No.: NCJ 181867.
Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), September 2006 and U.S. Bureau of the Census, MA & US Population Projections, 2006 & 2000
Lisak, David, The Undetected Rapist, 2002 (copy available at OSAPR)
Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Inc. (BARCC). “Statistics.” http://www.barcc.org/information/facts/stats
Fisher, Bonnie, Francis Cullen, Michael Turner. The Sexual Victimization of College Women. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice and Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 2000.
Take Back the Night is a month dedicated to empowering survivors of sexual violence, creating awareness, and building community. The month is sponsored by OSAPR Alliance, HMAR, and Response. Come Support!
Monday, April 4, 7:00pm – 8:30pm: TBTN Kickoff, Lowell JCR
We are excited to present student’s performances including dance, song and more from Members of the Harvard Ballet Company, Harvard Breakers, Indian Classical Dance, The Callbacks, The Pitches, and Spoken Word.
Wednesday, April 6, 8:00pm – 9:00pm: Jessica Stern, Harvard Hall 103
Jessica Stern Denial will share stories from her powerful book Denial: A Memoir of Terror. A brave and astonishingly frank examination of her own unsolved rape at the age of fifteen, Denial investigates how the rape and its aftermath came to shape Stern’s future and her work. Stern is one of the world’s foremost experts on terrorism and post-traumatic stress disorder, a lecturer in Public Policy and a faculty affiliate of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.
Wednesday, April 13, 7:00pm – 8:30pm: Tony Porter: A Call To Harvard Men, TSAI Auditorium - CGIS South 010
Tony Porter will make “A Call to Harvard Men.” A gifted public speaker, educator and activist working in the social justice arena for over twenty years, Tony is nationally recognized for his effort to end men's violence against women with a message of accountability. He is the original visionary and co-founder behind A CALL TO MEN: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women, he has also written Well Meaning Men...Breaking Out of the Man Box - Ending Violence Against Women.
Thursday, April 21, 7:00pm – 8:00pm: Jacqui Friedman, Emerson 210
Jacyln Friedman presents visions of female sexual power and a world without rape in her talk “Yes Means Yes.” Based on Friedman's hit book, this talk connects the dots between how the culture shames women for expressing their sexuality, how the media uses empty images of female sexuality to fuel sales, and how rape is allowed to function in society. Friedman also includes practical steps for action toward putting and end to rape.
Tuesday, April 26, 8:00pm – 9:30pm: LGBTQ Forum on Dating Violence, Tichnor Lounge
Invited guests and allies of the LGBTQ community will provide statistics and context for the realities of LGBTQ dating violence at Harvard. Designed to engage community members in conversation around these issues, this forum is also focused on providing information and resources for those who may need them. Sponsored and organized by the QSA, topics will include current initiatives by the College, as well as a discussion highlighting ways to improve support and resources for the LGBTQ community.
Thursday, April 28, 8:00-9:30pm: Candlelight Vigil, Memorial Hall Steps
On Thursday, April 28, 2011, Harvard will once again participate as one of 10 Points of Light to Take Back The Night! Each of the ten locations across the nation will light vigil candles simultaneously and unite to support of survivors of sexual violence. This vigil is meant to literally and symbolically illuminate the darkness of abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault.Visit http://www.takebackthenight.org/history.html to support the TBTN Foundation.
April 3 – 9: Clothesline Project, Science Center Front Lawn
The Clothesline Project is a display to address the issue of violence against women. Women affected by violence express their emotions by decorating a shirt. They then hang their shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women. Harvard’s clothesline has existed for over 20 years.