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Iowa Passes ‘Safe At Home’ Law

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Judy and Alan Harberts of Grundy County haven't seen their daughter or granddaughter for more than a year. Their daughter, Hannah, left the state to escape an abusive husband. She had to.  He was using public records to stalk her.

"I miss her. We miss her," Judy Harberts said, "Her family misses her and she misses us and we know it."

Hannah moved to California, which has a "Safe at Home" law, keeping the addresses of domestic violence victims confidential. Hannah pushed for the legislation here in Iowa. The legislature passed it unanimously and Thursday Governor Terry Branstad signed it into law.

"The crime of domestic violence is one of the most horrifying crimes and it is certainly one of brutality," the governor said,  "Often the victims live in a state of constant fear. This bill takes the steps to protect the victims of domestic violence."

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says the law gives victims peace of mind.   "They can vote without worrying about voter registration lists being used against them. They can have a drivers license without someone worrying about them accessing that and finding out where they are living," Pate said.

Hannah's parents say she is spending upwards of 60-percent of her pay on attorney's fees to keep her ex-husband away from her. With the safe at home law now in place here in Iowa, her parents hope she will come back. Someday.

"She still does not feel safe here. So she wanted this bill passed for future victims and their families that she would be able to help them," Judy Harberts said, "And maybe someday yes I'm sure she would like to come home."

Once the program is up and running, victims of domestic violence can get a post office box issued by the state to use as their legal address. Fines from offenders will cover the cost of renting those boxes.