FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 25, 2007
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0385
Texas Legislature Approves Address Confidentiality Program
Protects victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking
AUSTIN, TX -- The Legislature sent a bill by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. to the Governor today that creates an address confidentiality program to assist eligible victims of family violence, sexual assault or stalking. The bill was amended to include the use of pseudonyms to further assist victims.
"I want to thank all the supporters of this bill, and my colleagues in the House, Rep. Veronica Gonzales and Rep. Ryan Guillen, for their work on Senate Bill 74," said Sen. Lucio.
Rep. Gonzalez, who provided great leadership to this issue, said, "A victim of abuse should not have to go underground to escape his or her assailant. This legislation allows a victim to receive mail, register to vote and blend back into society without having his or her location discovered."
SB 74 directs the Attorney General to designate a substitute post office box address that a victim of these crimes can use in lieu of a physical address. There is currently no mechanism in Texas to help victims of family violence, sexual assault or stalking keep where they reside confidential. Now qualified applicants will have this measure of protection, plus the ability to use pseudonyms when filling out forms for law enforcement officers or agencies in domestic violence cases. The pseudonym would be confidential and disclosed only to the defendant or the defendant's attorney, except when a court order is issued for other matters.
Without this program, certain victims live in constant fear of being located. "I think about the address confidentiality program as something which could have saved my grandmother's life if it had been available to her," said Donna Bloom of the Texas Advocacy Project, whose grandmother was killed in her home by her grandfather after she had ended the relationship.
In cases of family violence, the abuse often escalates when victims leave the relationship and seek a new address. According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, 143 Texas women were killed by their male intimate partners in 2005. Sixteen of those victims were killed as they were leaving the relationship or after they had already left.
More than a million women and nearly 400,000 men are stalked annually, and one in 12 women and one in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetimes. The majority of victims are stalked by someone they know. Of those women who have been killed by an intimate partner, 76 percent were stalked by that partner in the year before their deaths, and 81 percent of women stalked by a current or former intimate partner are eventually physically assaulted by that individual.
Note: Policy Analyst Kate Volti (512-463-0127) handles this issue for the Senator.