Safe at Home launched in Ohio, gives protection to domestic violence victims

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DAYTON, Ohio (WRGT) - Victims of domestic and sexual violence can sometimes struggle to escape their abusers. With public information everywhere, victims often feel like they have nowhere to hide.

A program that began as a bill passed earlier this year to protect victim's information, and after months of building a network and training staff, Safe at Home has launched.

For domestic and sexual violence victims, public information can threaten their safety and force them to weigh unthinkable options.

"We have seen women, who come to us for support and services, choose homelessness as a way to escape their abuse," Audrey Starr, with the Dayton YWCA, said.

Those victims are often stuck in a losing battle.

"They felt like they've moved three or four times and because their address is so easily accessible through the internet, through public records like voter registration records, there's just no other option for them," Starr added.

Now, Safe at Home offers that option.

"They can, today, make sure that they can exercise their personal liberties, without sacrificing their personal freedoms," Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said.

When a victim enrolls, they're given a P.O. box to use as their address. It's rerouted to the Secretary of State, who then forwards that mail to the victim's actual residence.

"So how do you take advantage of it? You can contact the Secretary of State's Office, you can contact the board of elections, you can contact your local domestic violence network or shelter.," Husted added.

With the new option, Safe at Home will also be part of routine services at the YWCA. Any victim who comes to them for help, will automatically be registered.

"We are prepared to start taking applications immediately, since we have three staff that are trained," Starr said.

There's also another benefit to the program. In court, victims can request to have their phone company separate their phone from an abuser. It helps to maintain distance, while still keeping contact with friends and family.

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