State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) and State Representative Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent), along with Executive Director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network Nancy Neylon, announced today the introduction of legislation to help protect survivors of domestic violence in the state. The Address Confidentiality Program would establish safeguards to protect victims’ personal information from being accessed by abusers.
“This bill presents a common sense, low-cost measure following in the footsteps of 37 other states that have successfully implemented similar programs. As a state, we should be doing all we can to ensure the safety of people who take the hard and dangerous step of leaving domestic violence situations. Protecting their address and restoring their ability to vote without fear is one way to do that,” said Rep. Clyde.
The Address Confidentiality Program sets up an alternate mailing address that participants would use in government and other transactions so that victims of domestic violence can shield their home address and other personal identifying information from the public record where it can be available to abusers. The program would be housed in the Secretary of State’s office. The office would also serve as the intermediary for election-related correspondence and facilitate voting for the participants.
“Through the Address Confidentiality Program, victims of domestic violence and other crimes can protect their families from potential harm,” said Sen. Turner. “As legislators, we can help break the chain that allows abusers to find their victims by tracking their address through public records. It is time to act and join the 37 other states that have already implemented this program and give victims the resources that allow them to engage in the electoral process without the constant fear that their attacker may find out their whereabouts.”
Under this bill, individuals and their children who fear for their safety or have already experienced incidents of abuse, stalking or harassment would be eligible to enroll in the program with the help of an application assistant. This specially-appointed and trained professional, such as a counselor at a domestic violence shelter, would help the victim understand if the program is a fit for her or his situation and complete paperwork to enroll in the program.
“Domestic violence is a community problem that demands community solutions,” said Neylon. “The fact that we have the opportunity to help survivors live fuller lives after taking the dangerous steps of leaving a violent situation is reason enough to enact the Address Confidentiality Program.”
An identical version of the Address Confidentiality Program passed the House with unanimous support in the 128th General Assembly.