A school should institute trauma-informed responses to victims’/survivors’ requests for confidentiality and/or no action following a report of IPV. Disregarding victims’/survivors’ requests for confidentiality disempowers them and can reduce reporting rates throughout the institution. There are many reasons why a victim/survivor may request confidentiality, may not want the institution to take action, or may change their mind during the process. Victims/survivors often fear retaliation, even when they are told the institution prohibits retaliation. This is particularly relevant to victims/survivors who are part of the same community or in a relationship with the perpetrator. Victims/survivors may fear other consequences related to marginalized or oppressed identities - consequences such as being rejected by their community, being outed, or being mistreated during the process.
When managing requests for no action, Title IX Coordinators should honor victims’/survivors’ request for confidentiality and/or no action whenever possible. Title IX coordinators should only override requests when the potential threat to overall community safety outweighs the negative impact on the victim/survivor. Per the Office of Civil Rights, these situations should generally involve an increased risk of the perpetrator committing additional acts of violence, an increased risk of future violence in a similar circumstance, or an increased level of danger such as the presence of a weapon or excessive use of violence.
If the decision to override such a request must be made, the Title IX Coordinator should:
- Have transparent policies and procedures for overriding the request for confidentiality and/or no action. They should make this information public and easily accessible. Victims/survivors have the right to know what will happen to their information before they choose to share it. They also have the right to know they can request confidentiality when they disclose information. This way, victims/survivors can make informed choices and hold decision makers accountable to the policy.
- Collaborate with victims/survivors on a case by case basis. Such actions should only be taken after consultation with victims/survivors and their advocates regarding the particular incident(s) in question. When Title IX Coordinators can gather information without revealing victims’/survivors’ identities, they should pursue those options first.
- Inform the victim/survivor before taking any action. Coordinators should work with victim/survivor advocates to safety plan with victims/survivors and take all available steps to minimize negative impacts on them.