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I am a victim of sexual assault and I need to talk to the school (in the US) about it for accommodation reasons. I feel if I don't disclose enough I may not be able to get the accommodation, yet I don't feel comfortable of disclosing that much to the school. I am trying to decide what is safe to say. I am scared and nervous about saying something wrong or causing any consequences. For example, I don’t want to disclose the identity of the people who did it. I don’t want to bring them more back into my life. The people who did it are not related to the school.

Are these concerns generally immediately understandable by grad schools?

Would any of the above I mentioned be considered negative traits as a student? For example, sometimes I get nervous and clumsy when I talk about it.

Thank you!

Edit: Thank you very much for all of your comments and answers. They are all very helpful informations to know. I am sorry if some aspects are not very clear in the questions because I am trying to avoid specific details but still ask questions. In reality it is a very complicated situation.

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    Hi Lucy, I think that who you disclose to and when is a very personal choice. In terms of who to disclose to and when, there is something in the US called mandatory reporting for certain staff and not others. Are you in the US? You should be able to find some info on who is confidential and who is not on the university Title IX page. – Dawn Sep 2 at 3:58
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    And no one should think poorly of you for disclosing if you choose to do so! You should get the accommodations you need. Student counseling services and victim advocate services (if they exist) would be great places to start. They can help you figure out accommodation processes and the language you feel comfortable using (maybe a vague “traumatic event” is all some people need to know). – Dawn Sep 2 at 4:23
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    Hi @Dawn, thank you so much for saying that. I am in the US. It is a situation I feel I may need to disclose more than what I wanted to, in order to get the accommodation that I need. I was told Title XI office might be able to help, but I am concerned about the confidentiality because it is a non-confidential & reporting office. – Lucy Sep 2 at 5:13
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    Hi @Lucy, sorry you're dealing with this. I have no direct experience, so not an answer - but one route forward might be to contact the Title XI office anonymously (telephone/anonymous email), explain that you are a student contemplating making a disclosure, and ask if they could explain your options/what is involved/etc. Your discussion can (and probably should) be entirely non-specific as to people, departments, etc. – avid Sep 2 at 7:09
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    I'm confused. Do you need accommodation in order to apply for graduate school? Are you planning to apply but want accommodation after you enroll? Or are you currently enrolled and want accommodation now? – Anonymous Physicist Sep 2 at 7:12
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There are two parts of your question - how to get accommodations and whether you will be judged in some way.

Also, this answer assumes you are a current student, not a prospective student.

The first part of the question varies a bit from university to university. It sounds like you would like to figure out accommodations without making a formal report, which should be possible. You can start by visiting the website for the Title IX office at your specific school. You might need to click around a bit, but this website likely has quite a bit of information on resources for victims of assault. Some of these will be confidential (and labeled as such), including mental health services and often some sort of victim advocacy office. So you can start there to figure out how accommodations work at your school. Generally, accommodations are determined by trained administrators, not faculty.

For my institution (perhaps this is universal in the US, not sure), once the administration has decided on an accommodation for you, the faculty members affected simply get letters or emails explaining what they need to do. If I have any questions or concerns, I contact the accommodations office rather than putting the student in an awkward position of justifying themselves.

The second part of your question is about others’ judgement. The first point I’d like to make here is that very few people who actually matter to your student career need to know your personal business. In the information I gave above about how to get accommodations you note that no one in your department needs to find out anything until the administration has determined what accommodations you should get. Within your department, you could choose to be very vague about what is going on ("personal situation" or even "traumatic incident") and generally people know not to pry. If you do decide to disclose, also know that no one in their right mind is going to correlate your emotions about handling a sexual assault with your skills as a student. Those are such different domains of life that I can’t imagine any connection.

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    Yes, at my R1 in the US there is a special office that generates "accommodation" letters, that simply describe a reasonable accommodation, without any mention of what issue led to or leads to the problem. The decisions about this are not made in academic departments here. – paul garrett Sep 2 at 18:55
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    @paulgarrett Yes, that is the case for us as well. I was not sure if it was universal. Also, if I have a reason I think that accommodation won't work in my class, I am supposed to contact the office to discuss rather than putting the student in the middle of it. Is that the case for you as well? – Dawn Sep 2 at 19:34
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    Yes, Dawn, instructors are to deal with the office, not the student. (And I do think that is appropriate, although some of my colleagues somehow manage to construe this as an abrogation of their rights and powers as instructors... jerks.) – paul garrett Sep 2 at 19:36
  • That are all great to know, thank you! – Lucy Sep 3 at 1:53

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