Montpelier. Today, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz announced that there
are 57 Vermont women, men and children participating in the Safe at Home
Address Confidentiality Program. The Safe at Home program is designed
to protect women, men and children who are victims of domestic violence,
sexual assault or stalking from being tracked down through the public records
system. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, nearly half of the
Safe at Home program participants are children, three are adult men, and
the rest are adult women.
Markowitz said "This office discovered that offenders could use the rules
that require government records to be made available for public inspection to
locate and then harm the victims of their crimes. Rather than responding by
closing the public records, my office worked with various victim advocacy
groups including the Vermont Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault,
the Vermont Commission on Women and our state legislature to craft a system to
help keep victims’ locations confidential."
Safe at Home helps participants keep their home, work
and school addresses confidential by providing a substitute address to use
when creating or updating public records. Their mail is then forwarded to
their confidential address. The program has three elements.
- Confidential Address. Once a program participant moves to a new,
confidential address that is not already reflected in a public record, he or
she can use the Secretary of State’s post office box as his or her legal
- Mail Forwarding. Program participants authorize the Secretary of
State to accept legal documents and mail on their behalf. The office then
receives and forwards legal documents, first- class and certified mail and
mail from government agencies to a participant’s new and confidential
- Keep Confidential Address Out of the Public Records. Under the
Safe at Home program the Secretary of State's Office works with state
and local agencies throughout the state to ensure program participants’
addresses remain confidential. Because the address in public records is the
post office box of the Secretary of State, these agencies are free to
respond to requests for public record information without fear of disclosing
the actual location of program participants.
Markowitz said, "October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This month
and throughout the year many Vermonters work hard to ensure that, in the
aftermath of crime, victims are treated with compassion and dignity. The
Safe at Home program is an important part of the service network that is
available to help protect Vermont's victims of domestic violence, sexual
assault and stalking. No one should have to live in fear. "