Office of the Attorney General, State of Texas

CVS Update

Volume I . Number VI

Dear Advocates:

This issue of our newsletter features important information about our new Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). During the 80th Legislative Session, Sen. Eddie Lucio authored legislation creating the program, which authorizes the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to provide this service to crime victims.

The ACP enables Texas victims of family violence, stalking and sexual assault to obtain a confidential address that will help protect their privacy and keep them secure. The OAG has partnered closely with other state agencies and nonprofit organizations in developing the ACP, and the success of this important program depends on the continuation of this collaborative effort. The OAG administers the new program, enrolling applicants and forwarding their mail. For their part, crime victim advocates can play a crucial role by getting the word out about the program, educating participating entities and discussing safety options.

It is this united effort - bridging public agencies and nonprofit associations - that will make the program successful. Please accept our gratitude for the assistance that your respective organizations provide as we implement the Address Confidentiality Program. Working together we can ensure this program provides the meaningful protections intended by the Texas Legislature.

Sincerely,

Abbott signature

Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas


The Address Confidentiality Program

Victims of family violence, stalking and sexual assault now have a resource to help keep their addresses confidential. As directed by the Texas Legislature, the Office of the Attorney General has implemented the Texas Address Confidentiality Program with the cooperation of other state agencies and nonprofit organizations.

"Texas family violence, stalking and sexual assault victims can now obtain a confidential address that will help them protect their privacy and keep them secure," Attorney General Abbott said. "We are grateful to the victim assistance organizations that partnered with us to ensure that this program provides the meaningful protections intended by the Legislature."

Applicants must meet with a local domestic violence shelter, sexual assault center, law enforcement or prosecution staff member to discuss a safety plan and learn more about the enrollment process. To get contact information for local shelters, access the Texas Council on Family Violence Web site at www.tcfv.org or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE. To contact local sexual assault centers, access the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault Web site at www.taasa.org or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656- HOPE. Meeting with a victim advocate is vital to this process and required by law.

Sheryl Cates, chief executive officer of the TCFV and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, praised the program: "The ACP is yet another valuable tool available to victims of family violence in protecting themselves from the perpetrators who abuse them. We are grateful to General Abbott and his staff for seeking input from the Texas Council on Family Violence and many other domestic violence service providers in the development of ACP guidelines."

Annette Burrhus-Clay, executive director of TAASA, added: "Rape is a crime that removes control from a victim; this measure provides one additional avenue for restoring that control. TAASA is proud to have worked with the Legislature, the Attorney General and other victim advocacy organizations to see this important program through to fruition, and we're hopeful that survivors of sexual violence, stalking and domestic violence will find this a helpful tool on their path to recovery."

Information about the program can be found on the ACP Web page. For more information about the Address Confidentiality Program or to learn more about the eligibility criteria, contact the program at (512) 936-1750 or (888) 832-2322.

View our ACP Frequently Asked Questions page.

 


ACP Collaboration: The Key to the Successful Implementation

Molly Voyles and Andrea Edgerson, TCFV Policy Staff

The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) is a statewide coalition of family violence service providers and allied programs that works to promote safe and healthy relationships by supporting service providers, facilitating strategic prevention efforts and creating opportunities for freedom from family violence. One core aspect of TCFV's mission is to proactively advocate the enactment of laws that will visibly assist victims of family violence. TCFV's legislative agenda during the 80th legislative session included the introduction and adoption of legislation (SB 74) creating a state-operated Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). Authored by Texas Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., SB 74 designated the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) as the state agency responsible for the implementation and administration of the program. The ACP is a vital tool, as part of an overall safety plan, for domestic violence survivors who are in the most danger. TCFV was privileged to collaborate with the OAG on various aspects of the implementation of the program.

Following the passage of SB 74, TCFV staff visited ACP programs in Washington and Pennsylvania. TCFV had extensive conversations with program representatives about the logistics of program operation and held discussions with the local domestic violence coalition regarding their role in the implementation and technical assistance process. The Washington program was selected because it had been in existence since 1991 and was a proven model for other state programs to replicate. Pennsylvania was the most recent state to implement an ACP in 2005 and provided a fresh perspective on the implementation process. The Pennsylvania program was one of a few not housed in the Secretary of State's office as is the case in Texas. In March of this year Ms. Cathleen Patrick with the Secretary of State's Office in California, visited TCFV headquarters to train members of the policy team on their program. The knowledge gained from these site visits provided TCFV with essential information and resources to share with the OAG while working on the implementation of the Texas Address Confidentiality Program.

In the spring of this year TCFV began to train family violence advocates on ACP at various training events including its New Workers Institute and regional training sessions across the state. This coming fall, TCFV will provide training on ACP and other aspects of relocation for survivors at its annual conference in Dallas on September 25th-26th.

 


The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Address Confidentiality Program

The Department of Public Safety is pleased to participate with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in implementing requirements of the Address Confidentiality Program. The Department of Public Safety's role in this program is to provide assistance to victims of family violence, sexual assault and stalking by changing the address on their drivers license and/or identification card to the post office box provided by the Office of the Attorney General. Participants approved for the program must visit their local Texas Department of Public Safety driver license office in person to request a change of address and to present their Address Confidentiality Program authorization card. The driver license and/or identification card will then be mailed by the Department of Public Safety to the address authorized by the OAG. The Department's records will not contain the participant's actual residential address, only the post office box provided by the Office of the Attorney General.

Information on how to change the address on your driver license and/or identification card if you are approved as a participant in this program can be found on the Department of Public Safety's Web site.

 


Domestic Violence Resources from the National Criminal Justice Reference Center

Evaluation of the Judicial Oversight Demonstration: Findings and Lessons on Implementation

This report discusses the Judicial Oversight Demonstration Initiative, an effort to improve the provision of services to victims of intimate partner violence (IPV), increase victim safety and hold offenders more accountable. The report reveals some of the findings of an evaluation of the initiative and presents lessons learned about implementing court-involved IPV prevention programs. (NCJ 219077)

Three Domestic Violence reports funded by the US Department of Justice and authored by Andy Klein:

 


Stalking Resource Center/ Cyberstalking

The Stalking Resource Center of the National Center for Victims of Crime offers assistance for victims and providers on the crime of stalking, including emerging issues involving cyberstalking. The Center has a compilation of stalking laws and court cases, statistics, profiles, brochures, and posters. The helpline number for the Center is (800)-FYI-CALL and is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST or email gethelp@ncvc.org.

You may view Trudy Gregorie's definitive article on cyberstalking, including an overview of the issue, tips for victims, and other resources.

 


Sexual Assault Victim Online Hotline

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) has established a secure web-based hotline for victims of rape and sexual assault. Using an instant-messaging style format, victims can receive confidential support from trained crisis support volunteers. Please visit their website for additional information.

 


Advice for Advocates: Working With High-Intensity Cases

When sitting across from a person who has been the target of a vicious crime or talking with someone who is being watched, tracked, hunted or terrorized by a stalker, it is especially daunting for a victim advocate to find the right words, know the best resources or assist in a way that reduces the victim's stress and anxiety. These cases are draining, often frightening, and may bring up feelings of helplessness in the advocate. Empathy is an emotional gift to victims, but the best intentions for keeping appropriate boundaries may fly out the window when witnessing someone's extreme distress. Knowing how to anticipate and prepare for the intensity of this work is paramount for victim service providers.

Important Considerations for Advocates and Victims:

  • Stress is or can be: normal, necessary, productive, and destructive as well as acute and/or delayed, cumulative, identifiable, preventable, and manageable.
  • Trauma for crime victims involves:
  • What victims need from an advocate:
  • Beware of Common Pitfalls and Risks of High Intensity Work

    Remember CARPE DIEM: Creativity, Altruism, Rejuvenation, Productivity, Enjoyment, Discovery, Inspiration, Empowerment and Mastery.

    Please send your comments and stress relief tips to us at crimevictims@texasattorneygeneral.gov. This article is submitted by Dr. Jennie Barr, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for the Crime Victim Services Division.

     


    National Crime Victim Rights Week

    National Crime Victim Rights Week will be observed during the week of April 26 - May 2 in 2009. This year it will also mark the 25 year anniversary of the passage of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). This year's theme will be "25 Years of Rebuilding Lives: Celebrating the Victims of Crime Act". Please access the Office for Victims of Crime Web site for updates about events and materials for the obserevance.

     


    Helping Law Enforcement Serve Victims

    The US Department of Justice/ Office for Victims of Crime has released First Response to Victims of Crime, a new educational multimedia package produced by the National Sheriffs' Association. The materials—a 30-minute video available in both DVD (NCJ 211619) and VHS (NCJ 211618) formats, and a companion guidebook (NCJ 217272)—address the impact of crime on victims and describe steps that law enforcement can take, as first responders, to meet victim needs.

    The way people cope as victims of crime largely depends on their experiences and treatment by others immediately after the crime. For this reason, law enforcement officers, as first responders, are in a unique position to help victims cope with the immediate trauma of a crime, and regain a sense of security and control over their lives.

    Victimizations covered in the video include sexual assault, drunk driving, homicide, human trafficking, and mass casualties. Specific victim populations addressed include older victims, children, victims who have a disability, and immigrants. To request a copy of the DVD, video, or guidebook visit the OVC Web site.

     


    Serving Victims Abroad

    The Office for Victims of Crime has published a new "Resource Guide for Serving U.S. Citizens Victimized Abroad" (NCJ 221889) to help victim service providers in the United States enhance their services to these individuals. This online publication will help service providers develop strategic plans and ensure that key personnel, resources, and protocols are in place for effective assistance.

     


    American Probation and Parole Association Resource

    The American Probation and Parole Association has produced an excellent online Resource Kit to help promote Probation and Parole Supervision, which includes resources specifically for crime victims and advocates and can be downloaded.