WEB EXCLUSIVE: 'Safe at home' act helps IA domestic abuse survivors

Posted at 7:45 PM, Jun 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-21 11:26:25-04

On the Iowa side of the bridge a law, crafted and unanimously approved in January, is helping survivors of domestic and sexual abuse stay survivors.

The Safe at Home act shrouds a victim by allowing them to change their permanent address to Des Moines regardless of where they live.

State politicians gathered at the Pottawattamie County courthouse Monday afternoon with local law enforcement and domestic abuse councilors, to discuss the law’s success and usefulness.

“Many of the clients that we work with have disclosed that they feel fearful at their homes,” said Katie Choquette, domestic abuse coordinator. “They fear that even though they’ve moved on or moved to a new home that they might still be found.”

While Council Bluffs doesn’t experience the volume of domestic and sexual abuse cases as a larger city, for many, the threat is very real and hard to avoid. It’s not uncommon for suspects to look through victim’s trash, hack into computers and taken even more drastic measures to find them after a police report is made.

“In extreme cases we’ve found they’ve installed hidden cameras in folks’ houses,” said Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber.

“Because of the lengths that these stalkers will go to, a program like this is just another tool kind of to put in the tool box.”

Although not yet measured in Iowa, the safe at home effort has helped thousands in other states.

The program allows victims to go as far as listing Des Moines on driver’s licenses and voter registration.

“A criminal convicted of a felony loses his right to vote. “His victim shouldn’t lose their right to vote,” said Iowa Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal.

“That’s really what this program’s about. It’s a great effort by the legislature working together in a bipartisan way.

You can apply for a safe at home address at where you can complete an enrollment form or by calling 515-281-0145.