Domestic violence program expands coverage

A program created in 2019 to give domestic violence survivors and those who are victims of stalking, human trafficking and sexual offenses a bit more ease of mind has now been expanded via the Tennessee legislature under SB0885/HB1128.

The amendment to the original Safe at Home Address Confidentiality Program was sponsored by State Senator John Stevens and State Representative Andrew Farmer and was enacted into law in April. The amended law expands the eligibility requirements for participation in the program, which gives survivors a substitute address to use throughout state and local governments. This program provides protection against discovery by abusers or predators via public records. Driver’s licenses and voter registration applications can be secured with the substitute addresses as well.

The original law allowed the survivor’s minor children to be included in and approved to participate in the program under the same application. The amended bill widens eligibility to others who may be affected like new spouses, an adult child loving at home or an elderly parent who is being cared for by the victim.

Allowing these additional individuals to shield their address from disclosure is necessary to ensure that an abuser or predator cannot use the traditional public address information of a known co-resident to locate the primary participant in the program.

“This program was created to empower Safe at Home participants to continue living their lives as survivors,” said Secretary Tre Hargett. “We take our duty to protect all vulnerable Tennesseans very seriously and expanding these eligibility requirements will ensure that any side doors are permanently closed off to abusers and predators attempting to re-victimize our Safe at Home survivors. I am grateful for Senator Stevens’ and Representative Farmer’s support of our initiative.”

Senator John Stevens says the program is a critical tool to help protect victims of domestic violence.

“I was very pleased to partner with Secretary Hargett and Representative Farmer to help these victims by expanding the program to provide further protections that will keep them safe.”

Representative Andrew Farmer said that closing this loophole for criminals to access victims’ information is incredibly important to protecting the innocent from those who may wish to do them harm.

“Especially for those who have already experienced trauma, it is our job at the state to do everything we can to serve as a wall of protection between them and criminals.”