I want to keep what happened to me confidential. If I ask for help, will my confidentiality be protected?
It depends on whom you tell.
Some schools, but not all, have a process for making either anonymous or confidential reports of sexual assault. For example, some schools have advocates to whom you can make a confidential report, if you are 18 or older.
Check your school's website for more information.
Depending on your school, different administrators may have different reporting requirements. All resident assistants must report claims of sexual violence to your school. At many schools, advisors to student organizations and athletic coaches are also obligated to report, as are professors. You have the right to ask your school’s Title IX coordinator which employees have to report sexual violence.
Who will keep my information confidential?
If your campus provides health care services, like a hospital or a counseling center, their staff must keep the things you tell them in counseling sessions or doctor’s appointments confidential.
There is an exception: If you are under the age of 18, mandatory reporting laws may require providers to report sexual or physical abuse to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. Whether or not they have to report the incident that you told them about depends on whether they have reason to believe you are a victim of child abuse or neglect.
Outside of your school, counselors and crisis hotline volunteers will keep your information confidential, as long as you are 18 or older; community-based sexual assault victim advocates are always confidential. Lawyers are also bound to protect your confidentiality. So, talking to any one of those individuals will ensure that they cannot share what you tell them without your permission.
Will school administrators keep my information confidential from other administrators?
School administrators with reporting responsibilities must report any of the following details you may share: the location, time, and date of the sexual violence, the perpetrator’s name, any names of other involved students (witnesses, etc.), and your name. In most cases, you can choose to reveal as much or little as you would like, but administrators must include any of these facts you tell them in their report.
Even if an administrator does not have a specific responsibility to report, they also do not have an obligation to keep your details confidential from relevant school administrators, like the Title IX coordinator. However, your school must protect your privacy as much as possible by sharing your information only with those employees and officials who need to know, so that they can take steps to keep you and the campus safe.
Will school administrators keep my complaint confidential from the perpetrator?
If your school decides that it needs to take action against the person who assaulted you, or because you request an investigation, it will start a complaint through the appropriate complaint process. While these processes are kept as private as possible, they are not confidential, because the perpetrator has the right to participate. If the school takes action against your wishes, they can inform the perpetrator that you did not want to pursue an investigation.
Your school will, in most cases, respect your wishes if you decide not to pursue an investigation after a report. However, there are instances where your school must take action. For example, Title IX requires schools to take action if the perpetrator poses an active risk of assaulting you or others again, or if the perpetrator has threatened you, or if they have assaulted someone else before. However, even in these limited cases, the school is obligated to share information about the assault only with the administrators who need to know to respond to incidents of sexual violence on campus.
You have the right to decide to participate or not participate in these processes.
Whether you participate or not,
victim advocates can help you understand your options, give you support and resources, and will work with you to try and protect your privacy as much as possible.