DES MOINES, Iowa – April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is reminding Iowans that address confidentiality is available for those needing an extra layer of protection. Iowa’s Safe at Home program provides a substitute address for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking, and stalking. The program is administered by the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.
One in five women and one in 38 men have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, according to the CDC. Last year in Iowa, there were nearly 3,000 convictions for sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. It is an issue in all 99 counties.
Safe at Home provides a legal substitute address for survivors, replacing their actual, physical home address. Participants also receive a mail forwarding service and confidential voter registration.
“The purpose of Safe at Home is to shield a participant’s address from public records, making it a lot harder for their abuser to locate them. It gives an added layer of protection for Iowans looking for a way out of a harmful situation,” Pate said.
The Secretary of State’s Office is partnering with Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) across the state to provide information directly to survivors. A SANE is a registered nurse who has specialized training to assist sexual assault victims. They are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provide compassionate, culturally sensitive treatment, and collect medical evidence.
“Sexual assault is far more prevalent than most people realize,” Katy Rasmussen, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Coordinator for the University of Iowa Hospitals. “It is happening in every community to people of all ages. Despite their prevalence, nearly 80% of these assaults go unreported. Sexual Assault Awareness Month gives us an opportunity to increase awareness and provide education to prevent further violence from occurring.”
Iowa’s Safe at Home program currently has more than 660 participants across 63 counties. This includes men, women, and children from various age groups and races. It launched in January of 2016. Roughly 40 states provide address confidentiality or confidential voter registration. To learn more about Iowa’s program, visit SafeatHome.Iowa.gov.
“Safe at Home is an important program that gives survivors an extra layer of protection and helps to restore their feeling of security,” Rasmussen said.
Pate also encourages Iowans to participate in Denim Day next Wednesday, April 28. Denim Day is a national event in which people are encouraged to wear jeans to raise awareness of rape and sexual assault. The Secretary of State’s staff and county auditors’ offices will be participating.