DEAR ABBY: Because you have devoted so many columns to domestic violence, I thought you might like to know about the Address Confidential Program in Washington state.
Established by the Legislature in 1991, this innovative victims' assistance program is administered by the office of the secretary of state. The goal is to assist domestic violence victims who have permanently relocated to avoid further victimization by keeping their actual locations confidential.
Clients are referred to the program by police departments, community-based victims' assistance programs, and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Most of these victims are fleeing for their lives; if found, they may be killed. The program helps victims re-establish their lives by providing a substitute address that is accepted by state and local agencies. Participants use the substitute addresses for driver's licenses, marriage licenses and voter registration forms. There is a mail-forwarding service that enables them to keep their actual addresses confidential.
The Address Confidentiality Program is now in its fifth year of operation. Help is offered to men, women and children -- but women involved in the program far outnumber men. Of the 1,061 participants enrolled, 469 are women, 9 are men and the remainder are children. Of the nine men enrolled in the program, eight reside with women who are victims of domestic violence. -- RALPH MUNRO, SECRETARY OF STATE, STATE OF WASHINGTON
DEAR MR. MUNRO: Thank you not only for sharing the news that such a compassionate program is available to the citizens of Washington state, but also for providing some figures on the ratio of women to men who are victims of domestic violence. Other states could learn from your farsighted legislators.