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May 13 , 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Dan Gwadosky
(207) 626-8400

Address Confidentiality Program to
Protect Victims of Domestic Abuse

AUGUSTA, MAINE -- Advocates for victims of domestic abuse joined Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky and Legislators on Thursday to promote the state's Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). Former House Speaker Mike Saxl, who sponsored the bill to create the Address Confidentiality Program, also took part in Thursday's effort to highlight this important initiative.

The Address Confidentiality Program provides a designated address to individuals who have relocated or plan to move to a location unknown to their abuser. It also provides participants with a first-class mail forwarding service. The designated address has no relationship to the participant's actual address. As a result of the program, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are able to interact with businesses, government agencies and other organizations without disclosing their actual address.

Program participants receive a laminated ACP Participant card which they present when obtaining state and local government services (applying for a driver's license, for food stamps, Medicaid, car registration, etc.). The law requires state and local governments to accept and use this address whenever a participant's residence, school or work address is required. A program participant cannot be required to disclose their actual address.

Acceptance into the ACP program is made through trained Application Assistants at domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking advocate programs throughout Maine. More than 50 Application Assistants have been trained. They are located in all 16 counties. A complete listing of trained assistants and additional information about the program can be found on the Secretary of State's website at: www.maine.gov/sos/acp .

Statistics released by the Maine Department of Public Safety on Tuesday indicate that reported cases of domestic violence increased 11.4 percent in 2003. There were 5,364 cases in 2003; up from 4,813 in 2002. Reported cases of domestic violence decreased slightly (2.2 percent) in 2002, following substantial increases of 9.7 percent in 2001 and 12.5 percent in 2000.

“This service provides a measure of protection that can make a meaningful difference for victims of domestic abuse. It's an important tool for advocates to use as they help individuals plan a safe and secure future for themselves and their children,” Secretary Gwadosky commented.