December 21, 2017
Tip of the Month:
Safe at Home: Confidentiality for Abuse Victims
In the December Tip of the Month, attorney Amanda Rabe explains Wisconsin’s Safe at Home program, which protects the confidentiality of victims of abuse or threatened abuse.
Amanda R. Rabe
As of April 1, 2017, Wisconsin joined 35 states in enacting a program to address confidentiality for victims of abuse.1
Safe at Home: Wisconsin’s Address Confidentiality Program applies to victims of abuse and threats of abuse in the context of domestic abuse, child abuse, stalking, or human trafficking.2
Amanda Rabe, Marquette 2012, is a Civil Unit staff attorney for Wisconsin Judicare in Wausau, where she handles public benefits, landlord/tenant, and family law cases.
The program is also available for individuals who require a legal substitute for their address due to physical safety concerns. The substitute address can be used for public and private purposes, including receiving personal service in a legal context.
The program is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and provides information for victims and victim advocates on the DOJ’s website.
Wisconsin provides statutory guidance for the prerequisites to qualify for the program. As required by Wis. Stat. section 165.68(2)(a), the individual must assert that:
- he or she is a Wisconsin resident; and
- he or she is either:
- A victim of abuse or threats of abuse, the guardian or parent of a person who is a victim of an act or threat of abuse, or a resident of a household in which a victim of an act or threat of abuse also resides; or
- in fear for his or her safety; and
- the person who committed the abuse or threat against the applicant or ward of the applicant does not know the residence or place the applicant will reside in the state of Wisconsin, and is not known by the person who committed the abuse or threat against the applicant or his or her child or ward; and
- he or she will not disclose his or her actual address to the person who committed the abuse or threat against the applicant or his or her child or ward.
Advocate and Application Assistance
Designated Advocate Assistants are available to help the applicants through the process and with safety planning.
Safe at Home Application Assistants are on staff with designated programs which can be found on the Safe at Home website. The applications are available in English, Spanish, and Hmong.
To protect the applicant’s physical address once a Safe at Home address has been issued, applicants should use the substitute address for all purposes, including on court documents. Attorneys should not disclose a physical address if the client has a Safe at Home address and are therefore permitted to provide only the substitute address to the court.
Amanda Rabe is currently secretary/treasurer of the Public Interest Law Section Board of Directors.
1 Wisconsin Department of Justice, Statewide Address Confidentiality Program for Victims of Actual and Feared Abuse Available April 1 (2017).
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