Senate approves confidentiality program for assault survivors

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad voted for bipartisan legislation passed by the Michigan Senate Tuesday to help protect victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking by keeping their street addresses hidden from their offenders.

Under the plan, victims would be able to obtain a confidential address for official documents and mail correspondence to help protect them from their past offenders.

“Address confidentiality is an important part of keeping survivors safe and secure,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “Making a difference and protecting the most vulnerable is my top priority in the Senate, and this legislation would do just that by giving peace of mind to those who have suffered from domestic violence and sexual assault and helping them to put the past behind them.”

The program would enable victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking to receive a unique identification number and a legal substitute address, such as a post office box, to use in place of their actual address for voting, driver’s licenses and other state interactions. The state would then keep their true address confidential.

The plan would also afford children the same address confidentiality if they are at risk of being threatened or physically harmed, or if they or their parents or guardians are victims of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, rape or sexual battery. A school would not be allowed to disclose the address of a pupil or a pupil’s parents or guardians if they are program participants.

A program participant’s location would also be made confidential in the state’s Qualified Voter File system, and participants would be able to vote absentee instead of going to a polling location, which might reveal their address.

Michigan would join 38 states with similar laws if the plan is enacted.

Senate Bills 70-76 now advance to the House of Representatives for consideration.