COLUMBUS – Ohio lawmakers have unanimously approved legislation that protects survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual abuse by improving and expanding the state’s Safe at Home Address Confidentiality Program.
The legislation, House Bill 93, is sponsored by State Reps. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) and Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Twp.) and gives victims the ability to keep more of their records confidential and out of the hands of their perpetrator.
“Ohio experienced more cases of domestic violence last year,” said Abrams. “In my own district, one of our domestic violence crisis intervention hotlines saw a 53% increase in calls during the stay-at-home order from victims seeking help.”
Under the Safe at Home Address Confidentiality Program, participants are assigned a substitute address to help keep their address from being a public record, ensuring they are not located by their assailant.
“Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault should not have to refrain from moving on with their lives out of fear of being found by their abuser,” said LaRe. “House Bill 93 will provided much needed protection to provide further peace of mind for these victims.”
This legislation would expand the current program in three ways:
Authorize the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to create a real property confidentiality notice for program participants who are interested in purchasing a home
Expand the program to apply to ongoing child custody cases, as participants are often involved in these court proceedings with their former abuser
Authorize the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to disclose confidential information on behalf of the participant and with their permission to government entities such as the United States Postal Service, the BMV, a judge or magistrate, schools, public assistance, and food pantry administrators in order to confirm their enrollment in the Safe at Home program and verify their residency
H.B. 93 now moves to the Senate for consideration.