Several state representatives have introduced a handful of House Bills as part of a plan that would strengthen protections for sexual assault survivors.
The series of bills follow two Senate Bills — introduced earlier this year and not yet passed by the Senate — that will create an Address Confidentiality Program in Michigan. The program allows survivors of sexual assault to have a legal substitute address to use when a public agency needs an address. The substitute address, generally a post office box, helps keeps the survivor’s actual address private from their abuser.
If enacted, Michigan would join 37 other states with similar programs.
The House Bills, introduced earlier this week, strengthens protections for survivors under the program. The bills included specifications for law enforcement on how to handle victims who may be enrolled in the confidentiality program.
The bills in the House were sponsored by Kristy Pagan (D-21-Canton), Kyra Harris Bolden (D-35-Southfield), Diana Farrington (R-30-Utica), Daire Rendon (R-103-Lake City) and Julie Calley (R-87-Portland).
“Once a survivor escapes from an abusive situation, keeping their new address a secret from their abuser can be a matter of life or death,” Farrington said in a statement. “Enacting these reforms will help keep crime victims safe and offer them some peace of mind as they rebuild their lives.”
More than 12,000 cases of sexual assault were reported to the Michigan State Police in 2017, according to a statement from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who declared April of this year to be “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”
“Survivors have already lived through unspeakable trauma; we must do all we can to protect their privacy, ensure their safety and prevent any further abuse,” said Pagan in a statement. “The strength of Michigan’s survivors must be recognized as we fight to join the dozens of other states who already protect their residents through address confidentiality programs like this. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make Michigan a safer place to call home.”
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]