Survivors of domestic violence now have the option to keep their home, work, and school addresses private. Ohio’s “Safe at Home” program keeps a survivor’s address out of public records. By keeping a survivor’s address private, the program tries to prevent a perpetrator of violence from finding out where the survivor is and following him or her to work, school, or home.
Safe at Home is a free program created by the Ohio General Assembly through House Bill 359, which assists people who have experienced domestic violence, human trafficking, rape or sexual battery. Safe at Home allows a survivor to receive a substitute Post Office Box (P.O. Box) address to use in place of his or her home address. Another benefit of the program is that the survivor can keep his or her address private and away from public records. The office of the Ohio Secretary of State will forward any mail sent to the P.O. Box address to the survivor’s home address.
Applications for Safe at Home must be made in person. To find an Application Assistant, visit www.SafeatHomeOhio.com or call (614) 995-2255. Once an applicant is approved, a Safe at Home staff member will give the survivor a P.O. Box address. When asked for an address, the survivor may choose to give the P.O. Box address instead of his or her home, work, or school address. The P.O. Box address may be used for four years. After four years, a survivor may reapply for the program to receive another P.O. Box address.
The Safe at Home program works best for survivors trying to keep their whereabouts unknown. Survivors of domestic violence should only give their home, work, and school addresses to trusted people. Contact information, including addresses and phone numbers, should never be shared on the internet.
This article was written by Courtney Koski and Davida Dodson and appeared in The Alert: Volume 35, Issue 2.