Wisconsin abuse survivors are taking advantage of a new safeguard from the state: confidential mailing addresses. Hundreds of crime victims have signed up for the state Department of Justice service, which is available in many other states and debuted in Wisconsin in March, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Some (survivors) have been cobbling together ways to hide their location and stay under the radar prior to this program — even going so far as not voting and having other people close to them place vehicle titles under their name,” said Justice spokeswoman Rebecca Ballweg. “Now, these victims are able to benefit from the use of a safe, secure and legal option.”
The Safe at Home program was rolled out by Attorney General Brad Schimel, making Wisconsin the 36th state to offer the service. Six months later, there are 203 participants — just over half of them children — who are assigned an address where they can have their mail sent and then forwarded to them with a few days of extra delay. Safe at Home is for victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, stalking and threats as well as for the parents, family members or partners of victims. The victims need only to attest to the crime, threat or fear; they do not need to give the state documentation of the crime or threat. The program costs $14,000 a month in federal grant money, which covers the cost of one and a half staff positions to work with victims and other state agencies to ensure proper safety plans are in place.