Sexual assault and harassment affect everyone in our communities. We know you want to do everything you can for survivors of sexual violence, and voting is a critical way to take action and show your support.
The first step to changing our culture so that sexual assault, harassment, and abuse is less likely to occur is to listen to, believe, and support survivors. As part of this, your elected leaders must use evidence-based and trauma-informed best practices when developing legislation and policies intended to prevent and respond to sexual violence. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, BARCC is nonpartisan and is not endorsing any candidates. However, we are committed to providing you with vital information on this issue before you vote for elective officials.
We sent the short questionnaire that follows to all candidates in the following races who represent the service area BARCC covers:
- Senator in Congress
- Representative in Congress
- Governor and Lieutenant Governor
- Attorney General
- Secretary of State
- District Attorney
Read on for their answers, or you can download the voter guide PDF, which also includes descriptions of the elected positions and more information. And get ready to head to the polls on Tuesday, November 6! They’re open 7:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m., and you can find your location online.
Updated October 29, 2018: This post has been updated to include answers received from additional candidates.
Do you commit to advancing ongoing training for professionals throughout your field on best practices for supporting survivors of sexual assault and harassment? (Yes, No, Declined to Respond)
Senator in Congress
- Elizabeth A. Warren, Democratic: Yes
- Geoff Diehl, Republican: Yes
- Shiva Ayyadurai, Independent: Yes
Representative in Congress
- Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Democratic (Fourth District): Yes
- Katherine M. Clark, Democratic (Fifth District): Yes
- John Hugo, Republican (Fifth District): Candidate declined to respond
- Ayanna S. Pressley, Democratic (Seventh District): Yes
- Stephen F. Lynch, Democratic (Eighth District): Candidate declined to respond
Governor and Lieutenant Governor
- Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito, Republican: Yes
- Jay Gonzalez and Quentin Palfrey, Democrat: Yes
- Maura Healey, Democratic: Yes
- James R. McMahon, III, Republican: Candidate declined to respond
Secretary of State
- William Francis Galvin, Democratic: Candidate declined to respond
- Anthony M. Amore, Republican: Yes
- Juan G. Sanchez, Jr., Green-Rainbow: Candidate declined to respond
- Marian T. Ryan, Democratic (Middlesex County): Yes
- Rachael S. Rollins, Democratic (Suffolk County): Yes. ADAs, victim witness advocates, and other staff will receive ongoing, culturally competent, LGBTQ+ inclusive, trauma-informed, and victim-centered training in interview techniques that results, in the least, in not re-traumatizing survivors and, if possible, aid in the healing process.
This training will be fact-based and inclusive of the varied responses of sexual assault survivors -- including a lack of emotion or depressed affect.
As District Attorney, I will not have the authority to ensure that the police go through similar training. However, I will have relationships with the leadership of the police departments of Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop; my job as the DA is contingent on them doing their jobs well. I will work to share best practices with their offices, encourage them to have such trainings, and hold them accountable when their training and protocols don’t reflect best practice for survivors.
This is a very sensitive area and I want victims to seek justice to the full extent of the law. It is important that victims and witnesses feel empowered, supported, and are not re-traumatized during the process of seeking justice. In addition to training, I will also strive to hire victim witness advocates who are survivors of trauma themselves and ensure they are working hand-in-hand with ADAs to prosecute sexual assault cases.
It is equally important to develop an advisory committee to help guide policy in this area—not just for the sake of having another advisory committee. In Philadelphia, Larry Krasner has developed a program called the Crime Victims’ Advisory Committee. The twenty individuals on this advisory committee have personally experienced trauma that informs their lives and activism. Together, they make recommendations to the Office’s Victim and Witness Services Unit about empowering witnesses, supporting the victims of crime, and eliminating the trauma felt by crime victims and witnesses. A similar advisory committee in Suffolk County will not only ensure that prosecutors are using a trauma-informed process but also that our criminal justice system aids victims and survivors in their healing process.
- Michael P. Maloney, Independent Reformer (Suffolk County): Yes. As District Attorney it is my duty to protect survivors of sexual assault and harassment. I will prosecute perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law. My administration will have trauma-informed training and work with victim-witness advocates who reflect the cultures and languages of Suffolk County. I believe that victim empowerment is a key competent to a survivor’s healing process. It is important that victims do not feel re-traumatized and that my administration set an example and have a safe space for victims to come forward.
Our communities want to hold their elected officials accountable for the policies they create that affect the lives of survivors. What impact, if any, have you seen the #MeToo movement make on various systems (legislative, criminal law, housing, etc.) that you will be part of and engage with as an elected official?
Senator in Congress
- Elizabeth A. Warren, Democratic: The #MeToo movement is the grassroots at its most powerful. It’s the reminder that we are stronger when we stand up for each other, and a testament to the power of survivors’ voices. The #MeToo movement has forced politicians in Congress—on both sides of the aisle—to confront the harsh reality that sexual harassment and violence pervade American workplaces and neighborhoods. Our country has a long way to go in the fight against sexual misconduct—but the #MeToo movement has made it impossible for people in power to ignore survivors. It has also encouraged Members of Congress to propose structural changes to the public and private sectors, an encouraging step in the right direction.
Legislative fixes alone will not solve the problems of sexual harassment and violence. Nevertheless, Congress has a critical role to play in combating misconduct—which is why I have consistently promoted policies that reduce rates of sexual violence, provide survivors with the resources they need, and hold perpetrators accountable.
As a Senator, I have supported the Violence Against Women Act, the International Violence Against Women Act, and the Family Violence Prevention Act. I’ve introduced the Sunlight in Workplace Harassment Act, which would increase the transparency of workplace harassment and discrimination that takes place in publicly-traded companies. I also introduced the bipartisan Sexual Trauma Response and Treatment Act, which combats the epidemic of sexual assault in the military by helping military sexual assault survivors access critical treatment and support.
I’ve also pushed to expand funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to strengthen its enforcement of the nation’s anti-discrimination laws, including prohibitions on workplace harassment. And I’ve worked hard to clean up the legislative and executive branches—the employees of which should be held to the highest standards of behavior. I’ve supported legislation to require elected officials and staffers to undergo anti-harassment training and to reform the workplace harassment and discrimination reporting procedures in Congress. And I’ve spoken out about government officials accused of sexual harassment and violence.
I’ve also pushed our federal agencies to consider how rules and regulations affect survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse. I urged the Department of Housing and Urban Development to issue guidance explaining how local nuisance ordinances disproportionately impact victims of domestic violence who are too often evicted for calling the police when their physical safety is threatened. I also joined Senators Booker, Durbin, and Harris to push the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to provide trauma-informed care to individuals who are primary caretaker parents and to train correctional officers on how to care for victims of trauma.
That’s also why I believe we need to elect more women, LGBTQ individuals, and people of color to serve in Washington—to ensure that the impacts of sexual violence on different communities are understood by lawmakers.
- Geoff Diehl, Republican: Like you and as a father of two girls, I strongly believe there needs to be accountability, That’s why I passed language in the Massachusetts House to hold legislators personally accountable for any sexual harassment lawsuits. There is no accountability if the taxpayers are bailing them out. by holding them personally accountable, we are saying that this behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Moreover, I believe that it is time for Congress to release the information regarding sexual harassment lawsuits.
- Shiva Ayyadurai, Independent: The #MeToo movement has brought sexual violence into public discourse. I am unequivocally against sexual violence and in favor of that discourse, so that it appropriately informs public policy and law. Anyone who has committed sexual assault should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Representative in Congress
- Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Democratic (Fourth District): I have been inspired by the countless survivors who have bravely raised their voices to say #MeToo. The movement has sparked a long-overdue national conversation about the sexual harassment, abuse, and misconduct that millions of Americans are subjected to on a daily basis. #MeToo has fostered an incredible community of support that lifts voices too often unheard to speak truth to power. It’s been heartening to see so many stand up to hold their elected officials accountable and push for change.
As a Member of Congress, I was extremely proud to introduce the POWER Act, which would work to ensure we are better connecting survivors of sexual assault, violence, and domestic abuse with legal assistance. Far too often a lack of access to legal aid empowers abusers at the expense of the abused and puts true justice out of reach. With bipartisan support, this bill was signed into law earlier this year. I've also supported efforts to overhaul how the House of Representatives handles claims of assault and harassment. These reforms are sorely overdue and there is no excuse for continued inaction.
I also believe that a systemic approach to ending sexual harassment and abuse goes beyond legislation. I’m committed to fighting for a more diverse Congress that represents a changing America, and I’m inspired to see the record numbers of women, members of the LGBTQ community, and people of color running for office.
- Katherine M. Clark, Democratic (Fifth District): The #MeToo movement has not only prompted a long overdue national dialogue that calls attention to the assault, harassment, and abuse women face every day in their personal and professional lives, it has also empowered record numbers of women to speak up, run for office, and engage with their elected officials to demand change. When more women have a seat at the table, the issues that matter to families--like access to affordable housing and the growing cost of high-quality child care--will be on the table in Congress. I'm proud of my record of standing up for women, including my bill to fight online harassment like swatting, doxxing, and sextortion. I will also continue to use my position to call attention to the harassment of women in the workplace, like I did by inviting Anny Gonzalez, a young woman who lost her job as an airplane cleaner after reporting sexual harassment, as my guest to the State of the Union.
- John Hugo, Republican (Fifth District): Candidate declined to respond.
- Ayanna S. Pressley, Democratic (Seventh District): I am heartened by the focused activism we have seen in response to the real threats targeting survivors' rights and the rights of women and their bodily autonomy. This is not a moment, but an enduring movement. For generations, survivors and their allies have been fighting battles - sometimes very publicly and sometimes behind closed doors - that make a significant impact on a survivor's ability to seek justice and the support they need to heal. Our survivor tribe is resilient. And as we work towards a day where enthusiastic consent is the norm and we have eradicated this epidemic of sexual violence, I continue to affirm that our stories matter and our activism is meaningful.
On a daily basis, my heart breaks and it swells, as we see assailants ascend to major roles in our government. But I remain encouraged and emboldened because so many survivors continue to run for office, share their stories, create space for others to do the same, and support one another.
At every level of government we have to fight to bolster our civil rights and protections. We need to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. I am proud that our State House passed the NASTY Women Act to address an antiquated and outdated law from the post Roe v. Wade era. Our work continues. The stakes are high, but I believe fiercely in our efficacy as advocates and unequivocally believe survivors.
I am committed to bringing my voice, and the voices of survivors to every policy conversation in Congress, to ensure that our criminal justice system, education system, housing programs, and employment protections are intentionally reflective of the unique challenges facing survivors.
- Stephen F. Lynch, Democratic (Eighth District): Candidate declined to respond.
Governor and Lieutenant Governor
- Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito, Republican: Anyone who comes forward with an accusation of sexual harassment or sexual assault deserves to be treated with dignity and respect as their allegations are properly addressed and investigated.
Our administration has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and expects the Commonwealth’s employers to create a safe work place environment for all employees where reporting harassment of any kind is encouraged and properly addressed.
We have worked hard alongside advocates and stakeholders like the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) to support survivors of sexual assault, re-launching the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence our first year in office to review and advance the implementation of legislation passed in 2014.
The Council has also focused on raising awareness, respect and compassion for everyone, and enlisting men and boys to commit to being part of the solution to end violence against women and all gender-based violence. Our most recent budget included $500,000 for a new domestic violence and sexual assault prevention awareness campaign – the first in nearly 20 years.
Because we consider sexual assault and domestic violence to be a public health issue, we consolidated funding within the Department of Public Health (DPH) and created a public health framework around services to help survivors. BARCC was among some 68 nonprofits receiving contracts that will total over $100 million over the next three years to provide emergency shelter, crisis intervention, housing stabilization and other survivor support services. We have also expanded Massachusetts’ Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, program to every county in the Commonwealth with over 100 certified nurses.
We have introduced new policies to target human trafficking, forming a new Human Trafficking Unit within the Massachusetts State Police, and improving interagency coordination with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to help local law enforcement with investigations. At DCF, we have also made sexual exploitation and/or human trafficking a reportable condition, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a caregiver.
We signed legislation that requires evidence from an assault to be kept for as long as the statute of limitations is for that crime, giving victims time to decide whether they want to move forward with reporting and prosecuting their assault.
We have worked with the Municipal Police Training Committee to launch a pilot initiative that provides law enforcement with tools to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and assist in identifying risk and re-assault factors.
BARCC was there as we proposed legislation giving prosecutors and judges tools to keep dangerous offenders off the streets for crimes like threat to rape, and improving the system for notifying survivors of abuse when a defendant is going to be released.
We have been proud to support the mission of community-based organizations, like BARCC, through Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant funding that helps to develop and strengthen prosecution strategies and survivor services in cases involving violent crimes against women. And we are committed to working with BARCC and other advocates to continue to improve how we address and respond to sexual assault and domestic violence.
- Jay Gonzalez and Quentin Palfrey, Democratic: The #MeToo movement has exposed a sickness in our culture of sexual assault and harassment. As a candidate, I have been a strong and vocal supporter of survivors and have spoken out about the need to have public leaders who will speak up and who will hold not only the perpetrators of sexual assault accountable but the institutions and organizations that enable this kind of behavior. We need stop tolerating the intolerable. I believe survivors.
The #MeToo movement has made us all more aware of the extent to which sexual assault occurs in our society. But we’ve got a long way to go towards changing the way our systems respond. There are things government can do, though, to signal that it will not tolerate this kind of behavior. For example, I believe that the Wynn corporation should have its gaming license revoked. Steve Wynn stepping down from his company is not good enough. He is a sexual predator and his company enabled his criminal behavior. As Governor, I would make clear to the Gaming Commission that the license should be revoked.
I also think we need to look at the policies that currently exist in our society. Earlier in my campaign, I met with restaurant industry workers who, because they rely on tips, are often subject to greater harassment and sexual abuse than those who receive higher and more predictable wages. That’s why I support eliminating the sub-minimum wage.
I also think we need to appoint more women to leadership positions in business and in government. As Governor, I would demand representation of women and minorities on boards of companies and organizations that do business with state government, and I will increase the amount of business state government does with women and minority-owned businesses.
I strongly believe we need to support survivors in providing them with the assistance they need. The best thing government can do is do what it is supposed to do well – that means ensuring access to affordable housing, great health care services, a fair and just criminal justice system and a high-quality public education system (that includes sexual violence prevention education).
As Governor, I will work to make Massachusetts a leader against sexual assault and violence.
- Maura Healey, Democratic: As part of the #MeToo movement, countless courageous survivors have come forward to bear witness and demand justice. Their bravery has been a source of inspiration and motivation, encouraging all of us in government and across every sector of our society to redouble our efforts to support survivors and prevent sexual violence and trauma. As Attorney General, it has been my honor to work with so many survivors and advocates, including BARCC, over the past four years. Together, we were able to ensure no one in Massachusetts ever receives a bill for a forensic sexual examination. We created a team dedicated to prosecuting and preventing human trafficking. We teamed up with the New England Patriots on our Game Change program, which has trained thousands of high school students, teachers, and coaches to intervene when they witness signs of violence and become leaders in promoting healthy relationships. And through our work with the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance, this year alone we awarded over $65 million in grants to support victims of crime across our state. I look forward to continuing to work with BARCC and others to end sexual violence and bring healing and hope to all survivors.
- James R. McMahon, III, Republican: Candidate declined to respond.
Secretary of State
- William Francis Galvin, Democratic: Candidate declined to respond.
- Anthony M. Amore, Republican: If elected, I am committed to ensuring that the lessons we have learned—and continue to learn—from the #MeToo movement help guide decision making not only in terms of public policy but also internal policy. I’ll stay ever mindful of the day-to-day impact harassment and abuse has on people both in the workplace and throughout the Commonwealth.
- Juan G. Sanchez, Jr., Green-Rainbow: Candidate declined to respond.
- Marian T. Ryan, Democratic (Middlesex County): The #MeToo movement has had a profound impact on various systems. The sheer number of victims, many of whom are women, who have come forward to bravely share their stories has been heartbreaking. However, although it is critically important to express sympathy and support for these victims, this is not a wholly sufficient response. We are also called to take action. As the District Attorney, I have taken several tangible steps to confront sexual violence; expand resources for victims and to fix dangerous legislative loopholes. For example, I filed a bill in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to criminalize sexual assault committed through a medical professional's fraud. I have taken on the scourge of human trafficking and have worked on a bill which would further protect minor victims of trafficking. Since Middlesex County has so many colleges and universities, I have made confronting campus sexual violence a top priority.Throughout my career, I have personally prosecuted many crimes of sexual violence. I am proud to have a long-standing relationship with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and I look forward to continuing to build upon this partnership.
- Rachael S. Rollins, Democratic (Suffolk County): The #MeToo movement has empowered survivors/victims to speak out about their trauma and use the legal system to pursue justice. People -- jurors, judges, etc. -- are now more open to believing victims’/survivors’ stories. However, even within this framework, race, disability, documentation status, class, sexual orientation and/or gender identity continue to play a factor.
Women of color, women who are disabled, those who lack documentation, those who are poor and/or in low-wage jobs, transwomen, and LBGTQI+ womens’ stories are questioned more often.
The #MeToo movement, although started by a Black woman, has largely ignored the complexity and intersectionality of underrepresented women’s social identities and how they should be amplified in a larger movement to reform the criminal justice system. Locally and nationally, male victims (especially gay, queer, and transmen) have also been silenced. The #MeToo movement has raised awareness -- we must now broaden the movement and take action to prevent sexual harassment and assault while supporting survivors through trauma-informed systems.
- Michael P. Maloney, Independent Reformer (Suffolk County): The #MeToo movement has clearly made an impact in all areas of the system. I have a sister, nieces, female employees, and a female campaign manager. It’s a special time right now where many women have found their voices and the courage to come out publicly about their past experiences of abuse or harassment. The movement has sparked a cultural shift in workplaces, schools, and other group settings where claims of sexual harassment and assault are increasingly investigated in a more thorough manner. My administration will conduct a thorough investigation into claims of sexual assault, and will make every effort to not re-truamatize the survivor, but instead to empower them. Though women have been the primary focus of the #MeToo movement, I will also encourage a supportive environment for men to report abuse. The way to help the survivor heal is to address each situation within the bounds of the law, give a voice to the experience of survivors, and to offer survivors appropriate services to help deal with the trauma they have experienced.