In 2007, the Missouri Secretary of State’s office launched an address confidentiality program to help victims of domestic violence, rape, human trafficking and stalking. During the past decade, “Safe at Home” has helped about 4,000 Missouri victims, both women and men.
“Safe at Home” conceals abuse victims’ private information from their assailants by rerouting their mail with a substitute address. The option gives survivors peace of mind when creating new public records and having their mail forwarded to their confidential addresses.
One of the earliest participants was Carol Cromer. She was victimized by her ex-husband. When Cromer filed for divorce, he came unglued. He stalked her at work and set their home and cars on fire. He fired gunshots through the window of a home where she was staying.
She recalls feeling alone, helpless and very scared. Cromer says she was about to “give up”. Then, her phone rang.
Cromer describes that moment as if someone reached out, grabbed her hand and helped to pull her out of “the darkness”. The person on the other end of the line was someone from the “Safe at Home” program offering Cromer an opportunity that changed her life.
“This program offered the tools I needed to better protect my personal information when no one else could,” says Cromer. “They helped me to navigate the system safely when I was completely helpless on my own.”
With a quivering voice, Cromer says the system gave her hope.
“They gave me strength. I know this because I would not be here today without the Safe at Home program. They truly saved my life,” says Cromer.
At a reception on Monday in Jefferson City to celebrate the program’s ten year anniversary, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, R, tells Missourinet “Safe at Home” is increasingly important in this day and age.
“Unfortunately, there is a continued need,” says Ashcroft. “I hate to say it, but society unfortunately seems to be that as the years go by, we’re finding more and more people that need the program.”
Ashcroft says about 1,600 current participants are receiving the program’s help. He thinks that’s a far cry from the number of people who could benefit from the system.
Ashcroft hopes the ten year anniversary will raise awareness that could save others like it did for Carol Cromer.