Domestic abuse victims trying to keep their “ex” from finding out where they’ve moved would get some help from the “Safe at Home Act” that cleared the Iowa House today.
“This bill will be a step forward in our work to assist the victims of domestic and sexual violence,” said Representative Dean Fisher, a Republican from Garwin who is the bill’s chief sponsor.
The bill sets up a process so victims of domestic abuse as well as victims of sexual assault, human trafficking and stalking can get a new legal address, so they don’t have to list their home address when applying for a job, signing their kids up for school, registering to vote or taking some other action that requires disclosure of a home address — which might be discovered online. Representative Fisher said the bill was inspired by the story of a young mother who was the victim of domestic abuse.
“She was suffering the threats from her ex-husband over a bitter custody battle,” Fisher said. “She ultimately left Iowa for a state that already had a ‘Safe at Home’ problem. It bothered me greatly that (she) did not feel safe at home here in Iowa and felt the need to move to another state to achieve that safety.”
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate and his staff would administer the program and provide the victims with a Post Office Box in Des Moines as their new legal address. Mail sent to that P.O. Box would be forwarded back to the victim wherever they may live in Iowa.
“The Secretary of State’s office is the only entity that will have the physical address of the participant unless there are extenuating circumstances that require it,” Fisher said.
The bill is fashioned after similar laws in 33 other states. If the bill becomes law in Iowa, the names and addresses of Iowans who participate in the “Safe at Home” program would not be listed on voter registration records. Secretary of State Paul Pate, a backer of the bill, says victims of these types of crimes too often become reclusive and this program to shield their home addresses “is a tool that can help rebuild lives.”
The bill passed the House on a 100-0 vote and is now eligible for consideration in the Senate.