House introduces bill to protect victims of abuse

Sunday, February 22, 2015
(Photo contributed) Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (Left), R-Cedar Rapids, and Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, recently endorsed a bill to protect victims of abuse. The Safe At Home Act is designed to give security and access to services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking and stalking.

DES MOINES -- An Iowa House public safety subcommittee approved a bill last week that could potentially protect victims of abuse.

The Safe At Home Act, introduced by Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, and endorsed by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, R-Cedar Rapids, is designed to hide victim's addresses from their abusers.

The bill could give security and access to services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking and stalking, according to a press release.

That protection would be provided by keeping the home addresses of abuse survivors confidential when conducting official business, such as registering to vote.

Cathy Van Maanen, Plymouth County outreach coordinator for the Council on Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence, said she believes the bill is a good step forward.

"I would say that any step that helps increase the safety of victims and survivors is a good thing. This is a thoughtful piece of legislation," Van Maanen said.

Van Maanen works closely with survivors of abuse at her Plymouth County office, in Le Mars.

Bills such as The Safe At Home Act can be a great tool in the struggle to keep victims safe, she said.

This legislation comes at the right time and addresses important issues faced by survivors of abuse in the current world, according to Van Maanen.

"Today, with the availability of so much technology, it is more difficult for victims who are forced to 'hide' from their abuser," she said.

Van Maanen added that she believes this is a good bill, but there is always more to be done.

"This legislation will help, but we must keep doing the work to end violence against women so they don't have to hide, because that's an awful way to live and nearly impossible," Van Maanen said.

Similar legislation has worked in several other states, according to a press release issued by Pate's office.

"As Iowa's Secretary of State, it is a priority of mine to have Iowa join the 33 states who currently have address confidentiality programs in place," Pate said in the press release.

He added that he applauds Fisher for drafting the legislation and hopes many of their colleagues will join them.

According to the press release, Fisher said this bill will help give victims their lives back.

"Our goal is to give them back their safety, to make sure these victims are Safe At Home here in Iowa," Fisher said.

The bill, if enacted, has an estimated annual cost of $200,000 to $300,000 per year.

That will be paid for by a mandatory $100 surcharge imposed on everyone convicted of domestic abuse.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: