Who Can Use This Toolkit?
This Technology and Confidentiality Toolkit was created to assist non-profit victim service organizations and programs, co-located partnerships of victims service programs, Coordinated Community Response Teams, and/or innovative partnerships of victim service providers working to address domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. These programs that provide advocacy services to men, women and children who have experienced domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking may find the resources within this toolkit helpful. Much of the information found in the toolkit focuses on providing answers to the questions frequently asked by domestic violence and sexual assault advocates concerning confidentiality and privacy while some of the information focuses more closely on the confidentiality and privacy aspects of co-located victim service programs or coordinated community response teams. It is our hope that every resource in this toolkit can benefit victim service agencies and advocates in their work to keep victims safe.
Why Focus On Confidentiality?
This resource was created to provide information concerning confidentiality and privacy to non-profit agencies and advocates who support survivors of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. For any victim service agency or community organization working with survivors of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, maintaining confidentiality is paramount to preserving the safety, privacy, and trust of those seeking services, and the integrity of the services that advocates provide to them. When survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking seek services, they take huge personal risks. If an abuser should discover that a victim is seeking services, the abuse could increase in frequency and severity. Minimizing the risks to victims is an integral part of providing services to survivors of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. A high priority in providing victim services is the protection of the privacy of those seeking services and the privacy and confidentiality of the information that these individuals provide to victim service agencies and advocates.
Why Focus on Collaborations?
This resource was created to ensure that non-profit organizations and programs working together have the information they need concerning confidentiality and privacy in order to provide safe and effective services for victims. For most victims of domestic violence, dating violence and/or sexual assault, there is no one social service agency, justice agency or community-based organization that can answer all of their questions or provide them with all of services that they need. When survivors seek help, they often interact with several agencies and providers within the community. A lack of coordination among those community agencies can not only cause frustration and obstacles for those seeking services, but it can also create significant safety risks for victims as well. Agencies collaborating within communities can mean more comprehensive services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Collaborative community partnerships vary greatly, but at their core is the goal to support survivors. It is critical that these agencies and those with co-located services or coordinated community response teams understand their own and each other's confidentiality obligations as well as limitations and create clear guidelines for how to work together and with victims while respecting these obligations and limitations. Prioritizing confidentiality within collaborations greatly improves the ability to work with survivors in a safe and effective way.
Why Technology and Data?
Technology is being used within non-profit victim service agencies and community partnerships every day. Because of this, we need to be very cautious about how information is collected, maintained, and shared. Maintaining the confidentiality of personal information about the survivors served should be treated in a way that ensures agencies are not creating additional risks to their safety and privacy.