Do counselors report rape?

By David Joel Miller.

When might a counselor report a rape?

If the victim is an adult – counselors do not report rape. Rape is a crime. We do not report crimes unless there is a legal exception to confidentiality that requires us to report something. As far as I know, rape is not one of those crimes that get reported.

If the victim is an adult they should report it. We will try to help them, walk them through the process.

After seeing how rape and abuse survivors can be treated and the way reporting trauma can re-traumatize them, I can understand why they may not want their rape or abuse reported.

If the client is the perpetrator we do not report that either. It is up to the victim to report. What we should do is tell this client to stop doing that. They are ruining their lives and the life of their victim. That is if we even chose to continue to work with a rapist.

What if the victim is a child? You report the rape then don’t you? No, not really. Not the way I understand my reporting responsibility. I do not report crimes. I do not report rape.

Wait a minute – the victim was a Child? What we do report is abuse. This is child sexual abuse. See the rape part is not what triggers the report. It is the abuse of someone with power and control over a weaker person that makes this reportable as abuse.

This sexual abuse does not need to be rape or intercourse. Depending on the laws of the jurisdiction all sorts of inappropriate sexual contact between an adult and a child might be reportable.

But the victim does not need to be a child to make this a reportable occurrence. If the victim is a senior citizen that is reportable in lots of places. Or if they are disabled, that abuse gets reported.

Financial abuse of the elderly, that gets reported most of the time. There are rules about when but remember it is the abuse, not the financial crime that is getting reported.

So while counselors do not report crimes, yes we do have a responsibility to protect those who can’t protect themselves by reporting abuse.

I am sure this will not be the last time a question about when a counselor will report something will turn up in the comments or my email.

The basic rule is – crimes – no report.

Abuse of a disabled person, senior citizen or child – report.

A person intending to kill themselves or others – report.

At least that is the way things work here in California and most other places I know about. If in doubt consult a lawyer or ask your counselor about the way it works in your jurisdiction or situation.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books


2 thoughts on “Do counselors report rape?

  1. These are the same rules in Virginia, as I understand them, and part of confidentiality discussions with clients. Thank you for this post because this is important information for people to know.


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