Secretary of State travels around state, talks about domestic violence in A.L.

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon traveled to Albert Lea on Tuesday, meeting with local crime victims advocates about work being done to protect crime victims.

Steve Simon

Steve Simon

Simon met with staff at the Freeborn County Crime Victims Crisis Center and an area woman who is a part of the Safe at Home program, which is designed to protect people who wish to keep the location of their physical residence private for personal safety reasons, often because they are victims of domestic violence and stalking.

The program partners with nonprofit organizations around the state to work with people who fear for their safety to enroll in the program. People participating are able to keep their addresses private for not only government entities but also public entities such as banks and schools.

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The local woman who is part of the program said she moved to Freeborn County in 2013 from the Twin Cities and has found peace of mind from being a part of it.

She said it helped her start her life over again without the constant fear that her abuser would find her, and she has since found success in the community.

Simon said he treats the program seriously, pointing out that even the location of its office is not known to many. He said in his administrative office, there are probably only two people who know where the program is housed. Even Simon chooses not to know.

He said legislation signed into law this year will make it more difficult for that address to get released during court hearings. He said judges across the state came to him telling him that the law about when it can be released was vague. Under the new legislation, if someone requests the information from the victim in court, he or she has to prove it is essential to have this information, there must be no other way they can get the information and there has to be an opportunity for the victim to disclose either verbally or in writing what effect that releasing the address would have.

“This new law I’m very excited about,” Simon said.

Simon asked the Crime Victims Crisis Center leaders what some of the trends are they are seeing related to crime victims in the area.

Andrea Mauer, social worker and victims advocate, said problems with technology and stalking have become a large issue.

She said there is also a great need for homes for victims to go to after they leave a situation of domestic abuse.

In addition, they talked about the need for additional legal resources for civil cases such as custody battles, even if it was for victims just to talk with a lawyer on the phone or on an email before a hearing.

Simon was also slated to stop in Mankato and Faribault to talk about the program there, in Mower and Steele counties to talk about election-related issues and Waseca and Blue Earth for business concerns.