Options for Confidentially Disclosing Sexual Viole

Options for Confidentially Disclosing Sexual Violence

Sexual Assault & Violence Response Resources

Information you can use to seek resources and support for sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking crimes, and ways to report the crime to law enforcement and the campus.

The State University of New York and [College/University] want you to get the information and support you need regardless of whether you would like to move forward with a report of sexual violence to campus officials or to police. You may want to talk with someone about something you observed or experienced, even if you are not sure that the behavior constitutes sexual violence. A conversation where questions can be answered is far superior to keeping something to yourself. Confidentiality varies, and this document is aimed at helping you understand how confidentiality applies to different resources that may be available to you.

In this Policy:

  • Privileged and Confidential Resources.
  • Non-Professional Counselors and Advocates.
  • Privacy versus Confidentiality.
  • Requesting Confidentiality: How the College/University Will Weigh the Request and Respond.
  • Public Awareness/Advocacy Events.
  • Anonymous Disclosure.
  • Institutional Crime Reporting.

Privileged and Confidential Resources:

Individuals who are confidential resources will not report crimes to law enforcement or college officials without your permission, except for extreme circumstances, such as a health and/or safety emergency. At [College/University], this includes:

  • [College/University]’s Counseling Services: [names and/or phone numbers, address, web site]
  • Individuals serving in a pastoral role under [applicable campus ministries, if any]: [names and/or phone numbers, address, web site]
  • [College/University] physicians, licensed medical professionals or supervised interns when they are engaged in a physician/patient relationship: [names and/or phone numbers, address, web site]
  • [College/University] confidential victim advocates: [names and/or phone numbers, address, web site]. 

Off-campus options to disclose sexual violence confidentially include (note that these outside options do not provide any information to the campus):

  • Off-campus counselors and advocates. Crisis services offices will generally maintain confidentiality unless you request disclosure and sign a consent or waiver form. More information on an agency’s policies on confidentiality may be obtained directly from the agency.
    • [Check http://nyscasa.org/.Provide specific names if possible, contact information, and information about office, such as whether it provides compensation to victims/survivors of crimes or helps replace property lost or damaged during the crime].
      • [Local SANE hospitals and programs]
      • Off-campus healthcare providers
        • Note that medical office and insurance billing practices may reveal information to the insurance policyholder, including medication and/or examinations paid for or administered. The New York State Office of Victim Services may be able to assist in compensating victims/survivors for health care and counseling services, including emergency compensation. More information may be found here: http://www.ovs.ny.gov/files/ovs_rights_of_cv_booklet.pdf, or by calling 1-800-247-8035. Options are explained here: http://www.ovs.ny.gov/helpforcrimevictims.html.

 

Note that even individuals who can typically maintain confidentiality are subject to exceptions under the law, including when an individual is a threat to him or herself or others and the mandatory reporting of child abuse.

Non-Professional Counselors and Advocates:

Non-professional counselors and advocates can also assist you without sharing information that could identify you. At [College/University], this includes members of [any existing campus advocacy, peer counseling, and other applicable centers – provide contact information including email, phone number, and address]. These individuals will report the nature, date, time, and general location of an incident to [College/University]'s Title IX Coordinator, but will consult with you to ensure no personally identifying details are shared without your consent. These individuals are not considered confidential resources as discussed above.

Privacy versus Confidentiality: 

Even [College/University] offices and employees who cannot guarantee confidentiality will maintain your privacy to the greatest extent possible. The information you provide to a non-confidential resource will be relayed only as necessary to investigate and/or seek a resolution and to notify the Title IX Coordinator or designee, who is responsible under the law for tracking patterns and spotting systemic issues. [College/University] will limit the disclosure as much as possible, even if the Title IX Coordinator determines that the request for confidentiality cannot be honored. 

Requesting Confidentiality: How [College/University] Will Weigh the Request and Respond:

If you disclose an incident to a [College/University] employee who is responsible for responding to or reporting sexual violence or sexual harassment, but wish to maintain confidentiality or do not consent to the institution’s request to initiate an investigation, the Title IX Coordinator must weigh your request against our obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all members of our community, including you.

We will assist you with academic, housing, transportation, employment, and other reasonable and available accommodations regardless of your reporting choices. While reporting individuals may request accommodations through several college offices, the following office can serve as a primary point of contact to assist with these measures [Office name and contact information]. We also may take proactive steps, such as training or awareness efforts, to combat sexual violence in a general way that does not identify you or the situation you disclosed.

We may seek consent from you prior to conducting an investigation. You may decline to consent to an investigation, and that determination will be honored unless the [College/University]’s failure to act does not adequately mitigate the risk of harm to you or other members of the [College/University] community. Honoring your request may limit our ability to meaningfully investigate and pursue conduct action against an accused individual. If we determine that an investigation is required, we will notify you and take immediate action as necessary to protect and assist you.

When you disclose an incident to someone who is responsible for responding to or reporting sexual violence or sexual harassment, but wish to maintain confidentiality, [College/University] will consider many factors to determine whether to proceed despite that request. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Whether the accused has a history of violent behavior or is a repeat offender;
  • Whether the incident represents escalation, such as a situation that previously involved sustained stalking,
  • the increased risk that the accused will commit additional acts of violence;
  • Whether the accused used a weapon or force;
  • Whether the reporting individual is a minor; and
  • Whether we possess other means to obtain evidence such as security footage, and whether the report reveals a pattern of perpetration at a given location or by a particular group.

If the [College/University] determines that it must move forward with an investigation, the reporting individual or victim/survivor will be notified and the [College/University] will take immediate action as necessary to protect and assist them. 

Public Awareness/Advocacy Events:

If you disclose a situation through a public awareness event such as “Take Back the Night,” candlelight vigils, protests, [applicable student organization or other event or forum], or other public event, the [College/University] is not obligated to begin an investigation. [College/University] may use the information you provide to inform the need for additional education and prevention efforts.

Anonymous Disclosure: 

[Outline options and instructions for anonymous support and assistance that are available at your College/University, including a hotline or an online form]. The Hotline is for crisis intervention, resources and referrals and is not a reporting mechanism.

New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence: 1-800-942-6906

Institutional Crime Reporting 

Reports of certain crimes occurring in certain geographic locations will be included in the [College/University] Clery Act Annual Security Report in an anonymized manner that neither identifies the specifics of the crime or the identity of the reporting individual or victim/survivor. [Contact information for Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Coordinators/designees, and other related campus individuals].

[College/University] is obligated to issue timely warnings of Clery Act crimes occurring within relevant geography that represent a serious or continuing threat to students and employees (subject to exceptions when potentially compromising law enforcement efforts and when the warning itself could potentially identify the reporting individual or victim/survivor). A reporting individual will never be identified in a timely warning. 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act allows institutions to share information with parents when (1) there is a health or safety emergency, or (2) when the student is a dependent on either parents’ prior year federal income tax return. Generally, [College/University] will not share information about a report of sexual violence with parents without the permission of the reporting individual.


 


Further resources may be found at the SUNY Sexual Violence Prevention Resources page and the SUNY Compliance Page Safety, Security, and Public Health.

A plain language explanation of the differences between the criminal justice process and the college disciplinary system.

Model MOU between Colleges and Rape Crisis Centers

Information on complying with the Violence Against Women Act and SUNY-created model policies may be found in the SUNY Office of General Counsel document Policy and Programming Changes Pursuant to the Campus SaVE Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act.