A Message from California Secretary of State Debra Bowen
I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever
human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always
take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. – Elie Wiesel
Spring is a time of hope and new starts – themes that resonate with us at the Secretary of State’s Safe at Home office. We are especially hopeful about the many new beginnings we will be able to help jumpstart, thanks to the 2010 law that made the Safe at Home program permanent.
Beginning as a small seedling more than 12 years ago, Safe at Home has sprung into a full-grown program that has positively affected thousands of Californians. When it started in 1999, Safe at Home was available only to victims of domestic violence. The following year, the program expanded and allowed victims of stalking to enroll. By 2003, the list of those eligible to enroll grew further to include reproductive healthcare professionals and their patients; in 2007, sexual assault victims became eligible, too. By 2010, Safe at Home participants were protected from publication of their confidential name changes in any public forum, and they were empowered to have their court records of name changes sealed.
I am proud of our program's work to protect and assist so many victims who have started new lives free from fear. If you have ideas for strengthening the Safe at Home program, I hope you will email me at Secretary.Bowen@sos.ca.gov.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month comes each April, a time to remember the brave women, men and children who have survived abuse, and the others who are still at risk. The month is also a time to renew our commitment to protecting people who are at risk and spreading the word about the resources available to help them.
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is also this month, starting April 10. For more information about activities contributing to fairness, dignity and respect for crime victims, go to http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw.
With thanks to every person speaking out and standing up,