Are there times when the counselor can reveal my information against my wishes?
Yes. There are certain situations when the confidentiality privilege will not apply and the advocate/counselor can reveal the information you give:
- A judge can order that this information be revealed, if s/he believes that the information is absolutely necessary for evidence in a civil or criminal case and this would be the only way for this information to be brought into the case.
- If the counselor or advocate suspects child abuse, neglect, or dependency (this is when a child does not have an adult to take care of her/him), the counselor is obligated to report the abuse to the Department of Social Services (“DSS”). If you think that the counselor may report child abuse to DSS, you may ask her/him to allow you to contact DSS first.
- The counselor or advocate may share information with law enforcement if s/he understands that you or someone else (i.e., a family member or your child) needs protection because you or someone else are in danger of immediate and serious injury. If you die, the counselor no longer has to keep this information confidential and can reveal it to anyone for any reason.
- The counselor may share your information with other employees at the domestic violence program.
- The domestic violence program may use your information for statistics or research but only without giving any personal identifying information (such as your name, Social Security number, etc.).
- The domestic violence program may use your information to defend against a lawsuit if you sue the domestic violence counselor or program.1
1 NCGS § 7B-301; § 7B-302; § 7B-303