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Domestic Violence: Statutes and Legislation:
Address Confidentiality Program

Notable legislative changes effective July 1, 2012, are highlighted below.  For the full text of these Code sections, please click on the link to go to the Code of Virginia.  Please note that this list is not inclusive of all Code sections related to the Address Confidentiality Program.

§ 2.2-515.2Address Confidentiality Program.














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Address Confidentiality Program: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Address Confidentiality Program?

The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) is a confidential mail-forwarding service for domestic violence victims who have recently relocated to a location unknown to their abuser. The goal of the ACP is to help domestic violence victims keep their new address confidential.  
Program participants are authorized to use a “substitute” mailing address in lieu of their actual home address.  The ACP receives, sorts, repackages, and forwards all first class mail to each participant’s actual residential address.  The ACP does not forward magazines and catalogs.

The Office of the Attorney General serves as each program participant’s legal agent for receipt of mail and service of process.  The actual address of a program participant is available only to those employees involved in the operation of the Address Confidentiality Program and to law-enforcement officers for law-enforcement purposes. 

How can I participate in the Address Confidentiality Program?

Effective July 1, 2011, the ACP will be offered to victims statewide.  

Your participation in the ACP is not transferable if you move to another state.  Both adults and children can participate in this program.

Participation in the ACP is not permitted if the applicant is a sex offender for which registration is required pursuant to the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry program as statutorily provided through Chapter 9, of Title 9.1 of the Code of Virginia, or if the applicant is currently on parole and/or probation.

If you are a resident of temporary housing for thirty (30) days or less you are not eligible to enroll in the ACP until you obtain a permanent residential address.

Can my children participate in the program?

If you have minor children who reside with you in your household, your minor children can be listed on your application for participation in the ACP as well.  Upon admission to the program, you will receive individual ACP authorization card(s) with individual authorization numbers for your children.  The substitute address can be used as the children’s address for purposes of receiving local and state services. 

How do I apply for participation in the Address Confidentiality Program?

To apply for participation in the ACP, you must complete an application through your local domestic violence program.  

Where can I locate contact information for my local domestic violence program?

To locate a local domestic violence program, contact the Virginia Family Violence/Sexual Assault Hotline (toll-free 24-hour) at 1-800-838-8238.  Hotline operators will direct you to the programs in your area that can assist you with safety planning and an ACP application. 

Can I apply if I am currently living in a shelter?

If you are a resident of temporary housing for thirty (30) days or less, you are not eligible to enroll in the ACP until you obtain a permanent residential address.  If you have obtained a permanent address and are residing in temporary housing pending your move, you can submit your application to the ACP with your permanent address information. 

Will I be protected from my abuser?

The ACP is not retroactive and does not provide absolute protection. You should seek counseling through a local domestic violence program or crisis center to determine whether applying for ACP participation is an appropriate step in your overall safety plan.  

What is the substitute address?

The substitute address is a P.O. Box address issued by the ACP and has no relation to your actual location.  All ACP participants are authorized to use this same post office box.  However, the ACP assigns each participant a unique authorization code number which must be used as part of the substitute address.  

How do I use the substitute address?

Once you have received the ACP authorization card you can use the ACP substitute address.  Upon presenting your authorization card, state and local government agencies must accept the ACP substitute address as though it is a person’s actual residential address.  It is the participant’s responsibility to let the agency employees know that they are an ACP participant and that they wish to use the ACP substitute address.  When an ACP participant chooses to reveal his or her actual address, the agency is not legally obligated to keep that information confidential. 

In some situations, where an agency has bona fide statutory or administrative authority for use of or need of an individual’s actual address, the agency may petition the Office of the Attorney General for an exemption to the ACP laws.  If the Office of the Attorney General grants the agency an ACP exemption, program participants involved with that agency may have to reveal their actual location. 

Will private companies accept the substitute address?

Private companies, such as credit card companies, banks, and utility companies, are not required to accept the substitute address.  Some companies, such as utilities, require the actual physical address in order to provide their services.  However, even when a physical address is required, utility and other private companies may be able to accept the substitute address as the mailing address for the participant.  It is the responsibility of each participant to contact private companies and inquire about the possibility of using the substitute address in lieu of the actual address.  

How long can I expect to wait to receive my mail once it is received by the Attorney General’s office?

The ACP receives, sorts, and forwards all first class mail to each participant’s actual residential address.  Due to this process, a participant’s mail will be delayed for several days.  While the Attorney General’s Office makes every attempt to forward mail to participants as quickly as possible, even same day service may delay the participant’s receipt of mail for several days.  The ACP is not responsible for the contents of your mail, including bills, due dates, checks, or other documents.

Finally, if the ACP Post Office Box and/or the ACP Authorization Code number is not on your mail, your mail may never reach you.

If my abuser is a law enforcement officer, how do I keep my address confidential?

Your local domestic violence program should provide you with information about this issue.  The best means of protecting your address from disclosure to your abuser as a law enforcement officer is to seek a protective order against him or her. 

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Domestic Violence - Immigration Laws

Domestic violence reaches all segments of our society. Unfortunately, many people who come to America with hopes of better lives find themselves in abusive relationships. Because their right to reside in the United States is dependent on their spouse's status as a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), many victims of domestic violence and sexual assault may be afraid to seek help. Immigrants who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault should know that HELP IS AVAILABLE.


Isn't this a family matter that is best kept within the family?

Although most people who are abused first turn to friends and family for help, domestic violence is against the law. In addition to the police, there are various services available to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

What can I do?

You can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. Someone is available to speak to you at any time. The call is free and confidential.

You can call the police. If you are being hurt, you can call 911 and the officer will help you. When the officer arrives, you may ask the officer to transport you to a hospital, shelter, or magistrate. A magistrate is an officer of the court who can issue emergency protective orders and warrants.

You can ask for a protective order. Protective orders are orders from a judge or magistrate to the abusive person to stop the abuse. Protective orders also can require the abuser not to contact you or to allow you to use a vehicle that you and the abuser own together.

Will I have to leave my home if I seek help?

No one will force you to leave your home. If you choose to stay, you should talk to someone from a domestic violence organization to determine the best way to stay safe while at home. Call the Hotline at 1-800-838-8238 for more information. You should know that most victims of abuse believe that leaving was the most helpful way to achieve safety.

Will I be deported if I seek help?

If you are undocumented or are unsure of your immigration status, you should talk to an immigration attorney. In any case, calling the Hotline will not place you in danger of deportation, and police will help you if you call them in an emergency.

Even if you are reported to authorities, you will have the opportunity to tell authorities about the abuse. "Cancellation of removal" is available for some victims of abuse when deportation proceedings have already begun. Remember, your safety is important. Get help and be sure to speak to an immigration attorney.

Can I get a green card without the help of my spouse?

Victims of abuse who are married to U.S. citizens or LPRs can file for their residency status (green card) on their own behalf and on behalf of their children. This is called the self-petitioning process.

How do I self-petition?

You must complete an immigration form and file supporting documents. There is also a fee to apply, but you may be eligible for a fee waiver. Please talk to an immigration attorney for additional information and assistance.

Can I get a work permit?

Yes. Self-petitioners and their children who have been approved through the self-petitioning process are eligible for a work permit.

I can't afford an attorney. What do I do?

There are several organizations serving Virginia that offer immigration assistance for free or for a low cost. Click here for a list of names and contact information for these organizations. Also, someone at the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238 may be able to refer you to other places that assist immigrants.

What if my spouse is not a U.S. citizen or LPR or I was never married to my abuser?

You may be eligible for a U type visa when they become available. U visas will be available for victims of all crimes if they have information that will be helpful in the prosecution of the perpetrator of the crime and have suffered substantial injury. Again, speak to an immigration attorney for more information and assistance.
For more information, visit the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) web site.

end faq


P.O. Box 34303
West Bethesda, MD 20827
(888) 417-2742
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6201 Leesburg Pike, Ste. 307
Falls Church, VA 22044
(703) 534-9805

P.O. Box 584
Accomac, Va 23301
(505) 247-9521 








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Domestic Violence - Batterer Intervention Programs

Why Does Someone Use Violence in a Relationship?

People use violence to exert power and control over another person. They might have learned such behavior through the violence they witnessed in their families. This is one reason why family violence tends to continue from one generation to the next.

If you use violence in your relationship, or if you know someone who does, consider contacting a Certified Batterer Intervention Program for assistance. Batterer intervention programs are designed to help people change their abusive behavior. A court may order offenders to a batterer intervention program as a term of probation under Va. Code § 18.2-57.3.

Goals of Batterer Intervention Programs Include the Following:

  • Stop the violence and prevent the reoccurrence of future violence, while ensuring victim safety.

  • Identify abusive behaviors.

  • Teach alternatives to violence.

  • Explore the impact of violent and abusive behavior on intimate partners, children, and others.

  • Assist individuals in examining the beliefs they hold about violence.

Under the Virginia Standards for Batterer Intervention Programs:

  • Everyone who completes a Certified Batterer Intervention Program receives a minimum of 36 hours of group services over 18 weeks.

  • If referred to a Certified Batterer Intervention Program, individuals are assessed for drug/alcohol dependency and severe mental health issues. Referrals are made to treatment if necessary.

  • Certified Batterer Intervention Programs can help to ensure that victims are offered services, informed about the Batterer Intervention services, and are notified if the individual leaves or completes the Program.

  • Certified Batterer Intervention Programs charge a fee, but they provide services to indigent clients.

  • Staff of Certified Batterer Intervention Programs must have 32 hours of initial domestic violence training, in addition to 12 hours of annual continuing education.

For more information on certified batterer intervention programs in Virginia, please visit the Virginia Batterer Intervention Program Certification Board at www.vabipboard.org