Sexual Assault in The United States Military - Defense Task Force On Sexual Harassment and Violence At The Military Service Academies Report - Key Findings and Recommendations - Confidentiality


Confidentiality is a complicated matter with numerous implications for both victims and commanders, as evidenced by the extended debate within the Department of Defense prior to the approval of the new confidentiality policy. Confidentiality, as used in this report, refers to the privileged communications between victims of sexual assault and specified care providers and counselors. Confidentiality supports the provision of timely and meaningful assistance to victims following a sexual assault. Privileged communication, however, is an issue of extreme importance for commanders, not just victims.

Commanders have principal responsibility for ensuring appropriate care of victims, as well as for investigating and holding accountable those who have committed the related misconduct. In our view, commanders can do neither effectively without a privileged reporting and counseling channel in place. The requirement that military medical facilities report cases of sexual assault is but one example of the problems associated with a lack of confidentiality under current military regulations.

This requirement may inhibit a victim from seeking necessary medical care and lessen the likelihood the victim will report the assault. Accordingly, the Task Force recommends: Congress should create a statutory privilege protecting communications made by victims of sexual assault to health care providers and victim advocates.This privilege should extend to both medical and mental health care providers and to those victim advocates designated and trained to perform that duty in a manner prescribed by DoD regulation.

Read more about this topic:  Sexual Assault In The United States Military, Defense Task Force On Sexual Harassment and Violence At The Military Service Academies Report, Key Findings and Recommendations

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