Violence Prevention & Education
The Violence Prevention, Education, and Outreach (VPEO) Program sits within the REEF Support Center and aims to support student survivors of interpersonal violence. The VPEO is composed of Betsy's Friends, our dedicated team of Peer Supporters, as well as the Violence Prevention, Education, and Outreach Coordinator and the Director of the REEF Support Center, both of who serve as Simmons' Confidential Resource Persons. The VPEO provides confidential support (via the Confidential Resource Persons), peer support, and a variety of survivor-centered programs open to all members of the Simmons community.
Confidential Resource Persons and Confidential Resources
There are places both at Simmons and in the greater community where individuals can receive completely confidential assistance from professionals who have a legal and/or Simmons-appointed duty to maintain and protect information shared with them on a confidential basis. These professionals are mandated by law to keep individuals' disclosures confidential so long as the discussion happens while the professional is acting in that confidential/protected role.
Confidential Resource Person
Director of the REEF Support Center
A-075B Main College Building
Additional Confidential Resources
- Director of Health Promotion and Wellness & Chief Wellness Officer and Health Center and Simmons Health Center Staff, 617-521-1020, 94 Pilgrim Rd, Boston, MA (residential campus)
- Simmons Counseling Center Staff, 617-521-2455, [email protected].
Note: There are a few limited circumstances where even confidential resources are legally-mandated to report information. These may include cases involving abuse of minors, persons with disabilities, or the elderly; when required to provide testimony in response to a subpoena or court order; or where an individual is at risk of imminent harm to self or others.
Peer Supporters at Simmons: Betsy's Friends
Sometimes it can be helpful to lean on a peer when the next steps feel overwhelming and uncertain. You are not alone!
Betsy's Friends is a unique peer education program designed to educate and support students around relationship violence, sexual harassment, and prevention. Peer Supporters are trained, undergraduate student employees of the VPEO who are a part of Betsy's Friends. Peer Supporters offer private, peer support to undergraduate and graduate students around topics such as:
- Being a survivor
- How to help a friend experiencing relationship violence or sexual harassment.
- Navigating resources for survivors on campus, including, but not limited to, identity-specific resources, Title IX, and our Confidential Resource Persons
- Access to free safer sex supplies and period products
- Healthy boundaries and consent
- Tuesdays 4:30-6:30 w/ Meredith
- Thursdays 2:00-4:00pm w/ Maddie
- Fridays 2:00-4:00pm w/ Kay
- Or by appointment via email
WHERE: During the academic year, our office is located on the residential campus in Quadside (Smith Hall Basement, to the left of the Mail Room).
WHEN: Our peer supporter hours are updated each semester. Spring 2023 hours are as follows:
A note about privacy v. confidentiality: Peer Supporters can generally keep information that is shared with them private, however, Peer Supporters are required to report to the Title IX Coordinator information they receive about Sexual Harassment, as defined in the University's Sexual Harassment Policy for Students, Faculty, Staff, and Visitors, as well as report to University leadership information they receive regarding unlawful discrimination/harassment, or any existing or imminent danger to the Simmons community. Students who disclose information about their or others' experience of sexual harassment will be connected to the Title IX Coordinator, in which casestudents can expect to receive an email notifying them of supportive resources available to them. Students are never required to respond to, utilize, or accept such resources.
Survivor Resource Guides
- Betsy's Friends Identity-Based Survivor Resources
- Immediate/Emergency Resources
- Visit BARCC Hospital Webpage for additional information about SANE Nurse Clinic Locations (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners)
- Sexual Assault On Campus or Off Campus Resources (BARCC)
- Intimate Partner Violence Resources (Respond, Inc.)
- Connect with Title IX at Simmons
- Title IX Resources
We encourage anyone who wishes to report sexual harassment to contact Simmons' Title IX Coordinator: Sara Simberg, [email protected], 617-521-3289.
Survivor-Centered Programming at Simmons: Betsy's Friends
Follow Us on Instagram @simmons_vpeo for updates and our programming
All community members are welcome to our weekly Betsy's Friends meetings! Whether you identify as a survivor or are passionate about a violence-free world, you're invited! Think of this as a trauma-informed space that believes in the intimate connection between all forms of oppression and gender-based violence. We balance our weekly topics with educational, interactive, and joyful content/activities.
Fall 2023: Weekly meetings Thursdays 6:00-7:00 pm in Quadside, Basement of Smith Hall
The Betsy's Friends Peer Education Program is named after Simmons Alumna, Elizabeth 'Betsy' McCandless, '71, who in 1992, lost her life to domestic violence at the hands of her estranged ex-husband. News of her violent death rocked the Simmons community. Betsy's classmates, along with a number of staff members, came together to create the Betsy McCandless Memorial Fund in her name and launched a number of University-wide initiatives to spread awareness and education around the issues of gender-based violence.
Betsy's Friends is a peer support group on campus that works with students to promote healthy partnerships by providing 1 to 1 peer support and weekly community meetings/spaces. The Betsy's Friends office (located in Smith Hall Basement on the residential campus) has a free library, paper resources, and free menstrual products for anyone to pick up during office peer support hours! Our meetings topics and larger scale programs range from…
Frequently Asked Questions:
What if I am unsure about if I want/need resources or what to do first?
You can always connect with one of the VPEO resources, including a Confidential Resource Person or one of the Betsy's Friends Peer Supporters to help determine what support you might want or need.
Can I still access support if I experienced something years ago, like in high school?
Yes. Many survivors seek out support and resources months, years, and even decades after an initial experience.
I am not sure if I identify as a survivor. Is this resource still for me?
Our resources are for everyone in the Simmons community, however they identify. Our resources can also serve as educational tools that can help people understand their experiences in a new way.
What if I connect with someone and decide that I no longer want or need support?
That's OK! There is no pressure or obligation to receive support once you reach out to any of the resources we provide. It is entirely up to you whether you continue to meet with or access support through VPEO, choose to seek support elsewhere, or discontinue your efforts.
What happens if my information is shared with the Title IX Office based on what I have shared?
When our Peer Supporters report information about sexual harassment to the University's Title IX Coordinator, or if you give consent for a Confidential Resource Person to share your information with the Title IX Coordinator, you will receive an email outreach from the Title IX team. This email will outline different supports available to you. There is never an obligation to respond or utilize the supports shared.
What does a Confidential Resource Person Provide?
Confidential Resource Persons do not report to the Title IX Coordinator information disclosed to them about sexual harassment, unless requested to do so by the individual making the report. Individuals can share and access support and resources through a Confidential Resource Person knowing that their information can generally be kept confidential if they do not wish to report or share this information with others. Note: There are a few limited circumstances where even confidential resources are legally-mandated or required by Simmons to report information. These may include matters involving unlawful discrimination/harassment, harm or the potential of harm to a Simmons community member, matters involving abuse of minors, persons with disabilities, or the elderly; when required to provide testimony in response to a subpoena or court order; or where an individual is at risk of imminent harm to self or others.
I have questions about court, no contact orders, or restraining orders. Is this where I ask about this?
Yes! Speaking with a Peer Supporter and/or a Confidential Resource Person can be a first step in getting information on these topics., We will also point you in the right direction for additional guidance if you have questions we cannot answer. The Title IX team and the University's Department of Public Safety can also provide information on these topics, and we can act as a liaison to both of these campus partners.
I want to get involved with survivor advocacy and programming. What should I do?
We love to welcome community members to Betsy's Friends meetings, which involve activities and discussions centered around survivor advocacy and empowerment. We also welcome collaboration with others in the community for events throughout the academic year.
Does support for students who have experienced gender-based violence and sexual harassment include support of non-binary and/or transgender students who have experienced this?
Yes! We support students of all (or no) genders and are sensitive to the needs of non-binary and transgender students who may have experienced violence. We provide these students with the same resources and also have specialized resources unique to the LGBTQ+ community, both on and off campus.