Address Confidentiality and
Safe @ Home Programs


Some abusive people, stalkers, and sexual predators can’t comprehend, “hit the road, Jack!”  Their obsessions are so intense that their prey wish they could join a hole in the wall gang and go hide out. . .legally.

Books and movies have popularized the idea that a fairy godmother is out there someplace to provide you safe shelter and a new identity.  This is more myth than reality and can often end up being a bigger nightmare than the original abusive situation.  Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen is fairly accurate on this score.

Fortunately, the majority of states now make it possible for us to legally hide out via Address Confidentiality (ACP) or Safe at Home Programs.  They are modeled somewhat after the witness protection program, but you don’t have to assume a new identity.  You will, however, probably be on your own to find a new job if you have to relocate to a new area or state.  This is one of the reasons I’m so intent on forming Protection Circles.  Too many people are trapped in abusive situations because they don’t have a job and may not present as the best candidates due to their traumatic circumstances.

In 1991,Washington State started the first ACP, and I recommend it highly.  You can read about it at their web site.  Essentially, participants are required to relocate from their current residence.  This makes sense because you wouldn’t need the ACP if your predator couldn’t find you now.  What I love about our ACP is that I can use it for my legal address for my driver’s license, voter’s registration, government records, and business accounts like my bank.  If you are circumspect about your credit report and Internet trail, etc., it can be almost impossible for someone to find you. . .unless a well-intentioned friend, relative, or professional colleague is naive and easily duped into revealing your true address.  My official/business mail is delivered to my ACP address in Olympia and forwarded to me immediately.

My recommendation is that you run a background check on yourself to see all the ways someone could find you.  Magazines, non-profits, and politicians are notorious for sharing mailing lists.  Utility companies often insist that your bills be sent to your home address.  Be vigilant and persistent.  Do not use your confidential address anytime or with anyone who may accidentally or inadvertently share it.  I was astonished that a state director of a domestic violence program gave me a gift of a magazine subscription and remained clueless about how this put my life at risk.

Some states call their ACPs “Safe at Home,” and each state sets their own requirements, regulations, and rules.  Several states limit your protection to voter registration or driver’s licenses.  ACPs are pending in Kentucky and Ohio.  Illinois has legislation, but their ACP is not funded [this upsets me because former Governor Ryan’s wife demanded it be set it up after hearing my story].  If your state has a limited program or no program at all, I urge you to lobby your state legislature hard.  Write letters to the editors of your local newspapers and call the television stations and talk radio shows.  You can find a relatively current summary of state-by-state ACP legislation at the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s web page.  Most programs are run by a state’s secretary of state or department of justice.

You can find state-by-state listings of ACP/Safe at Home Program phone numbers, addresses, and web sites within the Colorado ACP and Minnesota Safe at Home web sites.  Or, if your state has an ACP or Safe at Home Program, you should be able to Google it by searching your state’s name and the words “address confidentiality program.”

Note: The photo is from the 2009 Seattle Flower & Garden Show of a garden designed by Octavia Chambliss Garden Design and created by Elliott Bay Landscape Design: Skyline Sancturary: A Terrace Garden for City Living.

17 responses to “ACPs

  1. Pingback: Heather Thompson: Speaking Out « Anne Caroline Drake·

  2. Pingback: My Protection Circle « Anne Caroline Drake·

  3. Just admit it! Just pleasing! Your publishing manner is charming and the way you dealt the topic with grace is valued. I am intrigued, I assume you are an expert on this subject. I am subscribing to your upcoming updates from now on.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely useful for me.

  5. Hi! I simply wanted to say your web site is one of the nicely laid out, most inspirational I have come across in quite a while. Thx! 🙂

  6. How are you supposed to get away and hide if your abuser/stalker/ex-husband has friends in federal law enforcement and Homeland Security who give him access to federal data bases and sophisticated surveillance equipment? Yes, this is for real, and it is truly the nightmare that never ends! The DOJ knows what’s going on and refuses to stop it.

  7. ML,

    That’s a damned good question. I’ve been in your shoes for 18 years. He’s a high-ranking judge who was also a high-ranking officer in the military reserves.

    My niece was married to an abusive cop.

    My own solution was to build my own power base. My own solution was to get as public as possible ~ there’s a whole lot of safety in the spotlight.

    If I were you, I would write directly to V.P. Joe Biden. You won’t need to name any names. They’ll figure it out. In cases like ours, we have to go straight to the top.

    The people who have protected me have ALL been survivors. Somebody reminded me that everybody has a boss. The trick is to find somebody who has integrity and doesn’t have a sense of humor about a guy with a badge abusing his power.

    The thing that keeps me more safe than anything is that he knows that if anything ever happens to me that his name will be on the very top of the suspect list. But, this doesn’t mean that he is prevented from doing a whole lot of stuff that has messed up my career and my life. It isn’t easy. It isn’t fun.

    The thing we have to do is disengage. I’m not playing his game. I’m living MY life on MY terms. He’s a part of my past. He sure as hell isn’t going to be part of my future.

    I wish you the best, M.L. I know exactly how terrified you must feel. It sucks.

    Sending extra hugs,
    Anne Caroline

  8. Charlette,

    This got caught in my SPAM folder. I’m going to approve your comment because I think many of my visitors might want to access the technology you offer to allow them to record cell phone calls. I didn’t know this was possible. So, that you for leaving your comment.

    Anne Caroline

  9. AT,

    Will do. I totally understand, appreciate, and respect your feelings. Please be assured that few people outside your circle will make the connection. I certainly didn’t.

    This site is intended to help people heal from abuse. Visitors discover that they aren’t alone and hopefully discover from each other’s stories how they might heal. We’re on this road to recovery together.

    I wish you all the best and send you lots of hugs,
    Anne Caroline

  10. Thank you, for validating my feelings. I needed someone finally to be able to give it back to me , But also embrace my pain at the same time. Ms. Drake u really opened a window for me and humbled me. (And i would hope Google to pick that up,:).!!!) My father physically and emotionaly abused my mother terribly for years, I was trained at an early age thats how you love. In this lifestyle the family does the prison sentence too. For 25 years straight that was my life back and forth to a max prison. Also my mom had a nervous breakdown and I became part of the system. That little girl From 8 yr old ALWAYS found her way to Attica prison to her father that she had on a pedestal until the day he came home, never told me married his mistress from when he was cheating on my mom, ( on my ,his daughters birthday! ) Hes been paroled after doing 25 to life paroled. .to Florida at age 73 on tax payers $,.must be nice! So the moral of my storie is I relate to the author, I wasn’t ready yet to see the name in text. So i lashed out at the wrong person. I wanted to lash out at him… I was upset how dare my father beat a man to a bloody pulp on orders from A”mob” Boss for not treating a woman right for hitting her..When he beats his wife to a bloody pulp daily in front of me his little girl. .? I was so mad! I was even mad at the author! ! When all she is doing is trying to heal herself. Pain is so ugly but needs to be dealt with head on! Right now i am in therapy for ptsd. I have 3 beautiful daughters and 1 son i want him to be a good man and the girls to have good men. and i also hope with your permission I can come to your site as well and read the articles and links and listen to finally a strong woman like yourself and others for inspiration and start to heal…you know stumbleling upon your site wasn’t an accident God has people cross paths for reasons. Respectfully. ..AT. 🙂 p.s i got the hugs… thanks

  11. AT,

    Your comment has me gushing tears. We are walking in VERY similar shoes.

    Ms. Durante’s story ripped my heart out too before it helped me heal. When you are ready, I hope that you will tell your story. You have a rare gift ~ similar to Tyler Perry’s ~ of eloquently articulating the impact of domestic violence on children. Yet, you have something he lacks ~ empathy for its impact on your mother.

    My sense is that you are powerful beyond your wildest imagination. I know you are fierce, passionate, loyal, and strong.

    When I started this blog, I had no idea that there are so many people around the world walking in our shoes. Yes, God has brought us together to make a dent in the Universe. I believe that it starts with breaking down the walls of silence and shifting the blame and shame to where it belongs. We are powerful survivors.

    AT, your story is one I’ll never forget. I am humbled, honored, and blessed that you shared it with me. Thank you.

    I wish you all the best as you continue on your healing journey. Please know I’ll always have hugs for you. You are amazing.

    Sending hugs and best wishes,
    Anne Caroline

  12. Dear Anne Caroline,
    I am so grateful to have stumbled on your site late last night. My first night in my own space after so much struggle – with my two beautiful kids, and their friend. Away from the nightmare of the last 15 years (especially the last 3 1/2 since he demanded a divorce). I can relate to so much of which you speak, and I admire and am inspired by your writings and the resources that you link to. It took me a long time, hospitalization for depression and panic attacks, and a major car accident and brain injury for me to wake up to truth of the situation. I started to realize that it wasn’t all my fault as I was being told so incessantly. Gradually I’ve started to put my life back together and I’m excited to move on. The divorce papers were signed on Tuesday, I have some of my own resources now, and yesterday my kids insisted that we stay at the ‘new house’ even though I haven’t bought it yet. Scanning the books on the shelf I was drawn to ‘Shattered Dreams’ by Charlotte Fedders and Laura Elliott. I was curious to know what has become of her since the 1980s and a web search brought me to you. Thank you again for all the work you are doing on behalf of so many for whom silence sometimes seems the safest option. It is truly supportive to read, and know you.
    With deep gratitude and love, Sara.

  13. Sara,

    Bless you for this lovely message. Charlotte Fedders keeps a low profile. Sadly, her story was repeated for Mary Margaret Farren, whose ex-husband ironically worked with Fedders at the SEC.

    My prayer is that you and your precious children will be safe and able to survive, thrive, and find joy.

    You have NO idea how much your lovely message has meant to me. Thank you. Bless you.

    Sending hugs and very best wishes,
    Anne Caroline

  14. Anne Caroline,
    You are an angel sent from the Universe. Thank you for your reply.
    Hugs and very best wishes right back to you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s