Safe at Home
Ohio’s Safe at Home laws protect victims of domestic violence, sexual battery, human trafficking, rape, or menacing by stalking by keeping their personal information private.
Sadly, abusers can often locate their victims through public records or even a simple internet search. Because of this, Ohio took a stand to protect those who are most vulnerable. The Secretary of State’s office ensures that a Safe at Home program participant’s personal information stays hidden from public records so they can stay safe, participate in our democratic processes, and rebuild their lives.
When a person enrolls as a participant in Safe at Home, the Secretary of State’s office does all of the following:
- Assigns them a substitute address to serve as their address in virtually all state and local public records. This substitute address is used in almost every type of government office – from law enforcement issuing a speeding ticket, to public school records, to court documents.
- Provides them with mail forwarding to help keep their home address away from private companies. Participants choose if they would like to use the mail forwarding system, or if they would like to provide their true address for mail – the choice is entirely up to them. However, Safe at Home will provide this option for as long as the person remains in the program.
- Provides a special confidential voter registration form. A person who is otherwise eligible to vote can participate in the democratic process without fear of their address becoming public. Their voter registration information will not appear on public voter registration lists, and they can vote by mail to avoid any disclosure.
- Provides information about a legal pathway to protect real estate records for those who would like to buy a home. Ohio’s Safe at Home laws convert records held by a county recorder, auditor, engineer, and others to a confidential status.
To join the program, survivors must apply through a certified Application Assistant who works or volunteers at an agency or organization that helps survivors of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, rape, or sexual battery. These assistants receive supplemental training and are certified by the Secretary of State to vet and help individuals complete their program applications.
Most of Ohio’s Safe at Home law is found in R.C. 111.41 et seq.