Protections available for domestic abuse victims, survivors

The Iowa Secretary of State offers a program called Safe at Home, which provides a legal substitute address for current victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking or stalking.

Safe at Home can forward mail to an address known only to the person seeking help. This includes first class, legal and certified mail and packages of prescriptions.

Participants in Safe at Home can register to vote and then vote absentee without revealing their current address or having to appear at the polling place where their abuser may see them.

In order to apply for the free Safe at Home service, victims or survivors simply complete an online application. Safe at Home is funded through a $100 surcharge imposed on anyone convicted of domestic abuse and a $50 surcharge on violators of protective orders.

Safe at Home is not a witness-protection program, nor will it hide you from legal obligations, such as child support orders. Since real estate records are available to anyone who knows how to search for them, Safe at Home works best for people renting their current home.

Another resource available for victims or survivors is the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s office. Contact the office online or at 515-281-5044.

Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.