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New York enacts new confidentiality program for abuse victims

Recently, the New York Department of State enacted an initiative designed to help the victims of domestic abuse conceal their current addresses from their alleged abusers. The Address Confidentiality Program is offered at no cost, and allows for children, parents and siblings of the victim to sign up as well. Under this program, victims of domestic abuse are assigned a substitute address to which their mail is addressed, and the mail is then forwarded to their actual address by the New York Department of State. The program is designed to benefit victims of domestic abuse who have relocated from their original home, and is intended to protect them from any potential attacks or harassment from their alleged abusers. The program requires that state and local governments accept the substitute address. Program participants are issued an identification card, and the substitute address may be used for court and government records.

This government program highlights what is a real and horrifying concern in domestic abuse cases; that the alleged instigators will continue to attack and harass the alleged victim after she moves to a new address. This could potentially lead to the victim being attacked or killed by the alleged attacker. By shielding the victim's new address, the program intends to protect their personal safety.

Domestic violence is an offense that has serious consequences for all involved. For the battered woman or any other type of victim, there is the issue of physical and emotional trauma. The defendant will face a possible felony conviction and the stigma of being labeled a spouse abuser. Having a felony conviction for such a serious offense can cause negative consequences for the defendant's livelihood and personal life.

Because of the extreme seriousness of the offense, it is highly fortunate that anyone accused of committing an act of domestic violence is entitled to an aggressive criminal defense and a presumption of innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The victim of domestic abuse is entitled to acquire a temporary restraining order from the abuser in order to protect themselves and any children involved. Because of the extremely traumatic nature of the offense, it is important that the issue be resolved with sensitivity to all parties.

Source: WBNG.com, "NY announces address confidentiality program to protect victims of domestic violence," March 13, 2013

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