MASON CITY — Iowa’s Secretary of State was in Mason City this morning to talk with local law enforcement about the Safe at Home program.
Paul Pate says it offers address confidentiality for survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, stalking and assault. “We want to offer people an opportunity to be able to come out of the shadows and re-take their lives, giving them a safe address to work from so that people assaulting them can’t easily find them is what we’ve launched here. Law enforcement are a key partner in that. They’re the ones that help us let these victims know the program is out there, but also they’re there so they can understand when they encounter people who are in the program how to support them.”
Pate says the program has been successful since it started six years ago. “We’ve grown to almost 70 counties, so it’s just not an urban issue…it’s not just one for the big cities, and we have almost 1200 folks in the program right now. I wish it was none, but we are there to help those in need.”
Pate says the program is a key tool to allow victims to try to lead a normal life, including being able to be registered to vote. “We are not the experts in this arena, we are here to help. From my standpoint since we handle voter registration, we want to make sure that people aren’t penalized for wanting to be a voter by having their personal information out there on the internet. We want to protect that component, and it makes sense to protect all that information, and working with law enforcement it has been very positive.”
Cerro Gordo County Sheriff Kevin Pals says it’s a great program that helps victims with another tool to keep their abuser from finding them and hunting them down. “We know there’s stories all over the nation, including the state of Iowa, that victims have been murdered because their abuser has found them and tracked them down. This is just a tool that they can use. It’s not for all victims, because every victim’s story is different. I think this is a great law that’s going to help victims if they want help, to keep themselves safe, and to start rebuilding their life.”
For more information about the program, head to the website safeathome.iowa.gov.