Social Security Number Change and Domestic Violence – Vital Program to Prevent Homicide that is Not Working
Survivors in Action
May 17, 2012
Victims of domestic violence and stalking in need of social security number changes for safety continue to be abandoned by the SSA- the Social Security Administration and NNEDV, domestic violence agency and advocates who have collaborated and contributed to this program.
Survivors In Action, with the support of Tri-County Crisis Center and victims left behind, are hoping that their efforts collaborating with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to uncover the facts and statistical data regarding the SSA and related programs for domestic violence and stalking victims will help lead to streamlining and improving the process of identity change for victims.
Victims of domestic violence and stalking seeking life saving protection measures such as social security number changes for safety to prevent homicide are discovering that a process of changing their social security numbers for safety is not as easy as it sounds. Instead, many find that it is a very complicated and difficult process that often leaves victims frustrated and confused.
One would think these life saving programs would be a priority and that the process would be updated to ensure the needs of victims are met, but this is not the case. Homicide prevention experts and consultants worry that these tools and others will be needed more than ever in 2012 as the number of public safety budget cuts continue making victims more vulnerable and this program, more needed than ever.
Survivors In Action has yet to receive any positive feedback from victims regarding their experiences with SSA since the agency was founded in 2007. To date, SIA hasn’t had one victim provide feedback that they were able to successfully change their social security number by applying directly with the SSA, but yet victims continue to be referred to this program as a tool and re-victimized over and over.
“Victims continue to be left behind by this SSA program and this simply has to change in 2012. Ignoring the problem or trying to hide the fact that victims are being denied at an alarming rate is not pro-active. Those who have had success changing their social security numbers face the risk of being accused of identity theft or their new personal information is co-mingled with the old information. This issue must be exposed to stop re-victimization, and to stop when victims of domestic violence and stalking from suffering further harm after reaching out for help”, says Alexis Moore founder of Survivors In Action and an outspoken advocate for stalking victims that supports reform of this SSA program and practices.
“Victims need to be made aware of the process in clear, easy to read language and the Social Security Administration, as well as the advocates who have been working within the program continue to fail to address the needs of victims. This is imperative because this tool is one that is being sought by victims who are facing life or death circumstances.”
“I was hopeful once Social Security Administration officials reached out to me via Survivors In Action this past year to discuss this matter, but communications stopped and instead, SIA received a certified letter from the Inspector General requesting that our agency stop our efforts to support victims. Thankfully, the ACLU stepped in and is supporting Survivors In Action since this matter is one that impacts a large group of victims and survivors nationwide.” Alexis Moore, President of Survivors in Action.
We can only hope that with the increased awareness of our efforts that the SSA Officials and the advocates from NNEDV and other agencies involved will take action to ensure the needs of victims are met and quickly.
Alexis Moore, founder of Survivors In Action, personally understands the devastating ramifications of a program like this failing. She has been a stalking victim since 2004 and was recommended to this program by law enforcement and crime victim advocates only to discover that the social security number change was not as easy as completing paperwork at the SSA office.
“My petition was denied for lack of on-going abuse, just like many victims that I have collaborated with from across the nation. The victims are learning about Survivors In Action and our efforts to help promote awareness of this problem and they are reaching out. I made it my personal goal to help reform this program and shed light on its failures after I suffered and was re-victimized by the present system in place in 2005. Someone has to take action, and waiting for that someone may never happen- so it happens to be me.” says Moore.
I could not be more proud of the work that Survivors In Action volunteers do and more honored to be part of the movement to reform victim resources and ensure no victim is left behind.
The questions remain regarding the programs guidelines and whether or not any measures have been put in place to protect victims after the change is completed. Presently, there are many victims who have successfully made the change who are discovering a whole new set of problems. They are finding that they are facing new problems in 2011 such as identity theft accusations and co-mingling of their old and new information, making it difficult for them to obtain credit, housing and even employment.
The growing concern shared by agencies and crime victim consultants is that this failure will continue without intervention by government officials if there is not more attention brought forth to highlight the problems.
Instead of the program working to protect crime victims, it is failing. The program needs to work well in order to prevent homicide, violence and re-victimization. This issue must be brought to light and addressed in 2012 or many more will be re-victimized and tragically domestic violence and stalking related homicides will continue.
“The TCCC and SIA goal is to prevent domestic homicide. We want to bring this matter to the forefront and we want to advocate for change” says Maria DiBari President of Tri-County Crisis Center who is leading the reform efforts from the east coast.
SSA (social security administration) number changes are the financial freedom that victims need in many cases. Specifically having a new social will prohibit further acts of id theft and stalking and help our clients with financial freedom and prevent violence and victimization. We need this system in place to work for people reaching out for help.
“In cases where the abuser has restricted access to financial resources and intentionally destroyed the credit of their victim,having a new social security number will not only prevent further stalking but also put an end to repeated ID theft and fraudulent activity. We must ensure that these important protections are put in place so that the victim can leave the abusive situation and progress towards self-sufficiency, ” Jodie SanJuan founder of the Domestic Violence Justice Project.