Privacy

Please note: The legal options and laws outlined below provide general information only, and do not constitute legal advice. VRLC attorneys provide civil legal assistance to individual sexual assault survivors with legal needs related to sexual assault in Massachusetts and Oregon.

Survivors of sexual assault often have concerns about how to keep their information private. This may include education, mental health, and medical records as well as information commonly available online (address, phone number, images, voter registrations, court documents, etc.). If you are a survivor of sexual assault in Massachusetts or Oregon, the Victim Rights Law Center may be able to help you address your privacy concerns.  

For individual legal advice in Massachusetts, please call us at (617) 399-6720 x19.
For individual legal advice in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties, Oregon please call us at (503) 274-5477 x6.

Common privacy questions and concerns:

If I talk with a lawyer, are my conversations private?

Attorney-client privilege protects the privacy of your conversations with your lawyer. As a general rule, everything you and other people tell your lawyer about your case will remain private.  There are exceptions to this rule however.  For example, you can waive attorney-client privilege. Your lawyer may breach the privilege if you intend to commit a future crime.  If you have questions or concerns about the scope of the attorney-client privilege you should discuss this with your lawyer. These confidentiality rules do not apply to a survivor's conversations with law enforcement officials or anyone from the District Attorney's office, including a Victim Witness Advocate.

What types of private information about me might be released in a legal proceeding?

Perpetrators of sexual assault may try to access a survivor’s privileged or confidential mental health, medical, and/or education records in different legal settings. The VRLC can represent survivors in Massachusetts and Oregon to protect these types of records. Therefore, if you have met with any mental health care provider or counselors and you are involved in any legal proceedings, you may want to request - in writing - that the service provider not release your records without your consent, keep them private, and notify you if they receive a subpoena or other request for them.
 

If I go to court, can they talk or ask about my sexual history?

The perpetrator's ability to introduce evidence of your past sexual relationships typically depends on the type of case you're involved in, the issues in the case, and whether the judge considers it relevant. In a criminal case against a perpetrator, there are many rules determining what information can be talked about in court. Certain information about you may be excluded from trial. For example, under the Massachusetts Rape Shield Statute and Oregon Law, your past sexual history, or reputation for sexual activity, cannot generally be used as evidence in a criminal trial. Different rules apply in civil cases and education disciplinary hearings. Please contact the VRLC if you have questions about a specific case in Massachusetts or Oregon. 
 

I need help at work because of the sexual assault, but I don’t want a lot of people to know what happened.

It is often possible to get the accommodations you need from work, school, and/or your place of residence without having to disclose all of the details of what happened.  Please contact the VRLC to hear more about the options that may be available in Massachusetts or Oregon.