A growing list of states offers victims of domestic abuse and stalking a way to hide from potential attackers, reports Stateline.org. The latest to act is Nebraska, whose new Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) will help victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking keep their addresses secret by setting up a state-sponsored P.O. box address. Mail to that box is forwarded to the victim's confidential address.
Twelve other states have set up similar programs since Washington began the trend twelve years ago, including California, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Vermont. Illinois, Maine and Connecticut have passed laws establishing ACPs but have not provided funding.
The first address confidentiality program was created in Washington in 1991. Today, 2,525 Washingtonians are enrolled in the program, which is now budgeted at $200,000 annually and costs about $78 per participant per year.
Women are not the only victims that use ACPs. In Oklahoma, more than half of those who use the program to elude a repeat attack are children. Victims' advocates say law enforcement too often fails to protect victims from repeat attacks. A study on stalking published in 1998 by the National Center for Victims of Crime reported that stalkers violated restraining orders in 69 percent of the cases involving female victims and 81 percent of those involving male victims.
Victims can find information about existing programs by contacting their local domestic violence shelter. The Arkansas Secretary of State's Web site also has contact information for state ACP programs.