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State moves to help survivors of domestic violence hide addresses

Reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788. 

Kentucky domestic violence survivors just got a little extra help from the state in staying safe from abusers.

Republican-sponsored Senate Bill 79 passed the General Assembly during the 2023 legislative session and Gov. Andy Beshear signed it into law.

Called the “Safe at Home Program,” the law went into effect Thursday.

It lets victims of domestic violence hide their addresses when registering to vote without a protective order from a judge. It also allows the State Capitol to be the address on public records and lets those moving from out of state easily join the program.

The Secretary of State’s office and county clerks will know the person’s real address and can send them absentee ballots.

“Kentucky has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the nation. Even worse, government facilitates this through unnecessary publication of individuals’ home addresses,” Secretary of State Michael Adams said. He appeared alongside Gov. Andy Beshear Thursday to speak about the law, wearing a purple tie. (Purple is widely worn to raise awareness about domestic violence).

“When a victim of abuse decides to leave and find a safe place, often her abuser is able to find her sometimes by learning her new location through easily-accessible public records,” Adams said.

But: This law will work to fix that, he said.

Kentucky ranks high for domestic violence

In 2023 Kentucky had the second worst rate of domestic violence in the United States, according to World Population Review data. The commonwealth is also 11th in the country for femicides – killings of females because of their gender, WPR said.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, but that anyone can be harmed in a domestic setting. One in four women and one in nine men experience “severe intimate partner physical violence,” NCADV said.

Beshear said the high rates of domestic violence in the state are “unacceptable.”

“We all ought to be committed to taking action, to making change, to every single Kentuckians’ safety,” he said.

A person is eligible for Safe at Home, according to Adams’ office, if they:

  • Are a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, stalking or other crimes that make them fear for their safety. 
  • Can provide a statement, with penalty of perjury, attesting to their need for the program. 
  • Are a permanent or temporary resident of Kentucky.
  • Reciprocity will be granted to individuals who are enrolled in address confidentiality programs in their home state.
  • Co-applicants can be listed on the application if they live with the enrolling survivor and their enrollment will contribute to the survivor’s safety.

To enroll in the Safe at Home Program, visit the Secretary of State’s websitehere. Applications should be sent to or by mail at: Safe at Home Program, c/o Office of the Secretary of State, 700 Capital Ave Suite 152, Frankfort, KY 40601.

This article was originally published by The Kentucky Lantern.

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist and Kentuckian. She has covered everything from crime to higher education. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since.
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