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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2007
Contact: Nicole Ladner
207-626-8407

January is National Stalking Awareness Month

Secretary of State encourages program use

AUGUSTA, MAINE - January is National Stalking Awareness Month, and Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap joins victim advocates across the country educating the public about the crime that affects nearly 1.4 million Americans a year. The Secretary of State’s office administers Maine’s Address Confidentiality Program, designed to help victims of domestic violence conceal their home address.

Stalking—typically defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear—is a criminal offense under the laws of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, one in 12 women and one in 45 men will be stalked in their lifetime, for an average duration of almost two years. Seventy-six percent of female homicide victims were also stalked prior to their death, and more than half of these victims reported stalking to the police before being murdered by their stalkers.

“Maine is one of 22 states that currently have an Address Confidentiality Program,” said Dunlap, “and several other states are considering legislation to establish the program as well. This additional infrastructure available to victims on the run offers hope to those who might otherwise have nowhere else to turn.”

The Address Confidentiality Program, passed by the 120th Legislature, provides a designated address to individuals who have relocated or plan to move to a location unknown to their abuser. It also provides participants with a first-class mail forwarding service. The designated address has no relationship to the participant's actual address. As a result of the program, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are able to interact with businesses, government agencies and other organizations without disclosing their actual address.

Acceptance into the ACP program is made through trained Application Assistants at domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking advocate programs throughout Maine. More than 100 Application Assistants have been trained and certified, representing 31 organizations in 16 counties.

“This program is designed for people who live in fear of being found by their abuser,” said Dunlap. “I strongly urge anyone who is in this situation to contact their local domestic violence shelter where they can be advised if this is a program that would be helpful to them.”

A complete listing of trained assistants and additional information about the program can be found on the Secretary of State's website at: www.maine.gov/sos/acp.

Advocates interested in the program can request training and certification by emailing sos.office@maine.gov or by calling 207-626-8400. For more information about National Stalking Awareness Month, visit the National Center for Victims of Crime’s website at www.ncvc.org.