Victim Privacy

Victims have the right to keep their personal information private. For example, a victim’s information should never be shared with someone else unless the victim gives permission for it to be shared, or if it has to be shared by law because someone is a mandatory reporter .

Victims have a right to privacy. “Privacy” means a victim has the right to decide whether to share information with someone else. Victims should understand if their information will stay private before they share it or give permission for sharing. 

Service Providers

Service providers, like police, therapists, advocate, and attorneys, have different rules about sharing information with other people.  These are called “confidentiality” and “privilege

Victims should always ask service providers about their policies for privilege and confidentiality before sharing any private information. 

“Confidentiality” and “privilege” are designed to protect victims’ information.

  • “Confidentiality” means that an organization or agency promises to protect a victim’s information.  People with confidentiality might have to share some information by law if they are mandatory reporters
  • “Privilege” means a service provider is not allowed to share a victim’s information with an outside person or agency unless they give permission to do so.  That permission is called “waiving privilege”.

A list of professionals who have “privilege” can be found here.

Before a service provider shares any information with outside people or agencies, for example, as part of coordinating services or making referrals, they should ask if you are okay with that. If you are, they might ask you to sign a form giving the permission to share the information the form is called a “Release of Information” or ROI.

Release of Information (ROI)

An ROI can be as general or specific as the victim would like. For example, one victim may give permission to only share their name and a specific detail about their case. Another victim may give permission to share case details, but not their name.

Here are two different ROI examples:

  • I [Victim Name] consent to [Service Provider Organization] sharing my name, offender’s name, and case details with [Specific Third Party].
  • I [Victim Name] consent to [Service Provider Organization] sharing my case details with other Service Provider Organizations but would like my name, contact information, and offender’s name to remain confidential.

ROI’s should have an expiration date, and a way for a victim to change their mind (revoke) their permission.

Victims should be careful about what information they give permission to share. When victims give -permission to share information, they give up their “privilege”. This means that other third parties may be able to access their information later.

If You are Asked for Information

Just because someone asks you for information does not mean that you have to share it.  For example, the police or District Attorney may ask a victim to sign an ROI for their medical records, or may ask questions that feel too personal.  It is important for victims to know that they can choose what to share. You can also speak with an attorney before deciding what to share.