LANSING – State Representative Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-Muskegon) is introducing a bill that would support survivors of domestic violence, rape, human trafficking and stalking as they seek to recover from abusive situations. The bill would establish legal standards of confidentiality for victims of these crimes as they seek to rebuild their lives after violence. This proposal is similar to laws that exist in 32 other states that give victims substitute, government-managed addresses (often a post office box) to use in place of their physical address – a measure that decreases the victim’s vulnerability to stalkers and other offenders who attempt to locate them.
“It’s a known fact that a woman in an abusive situation is at an increased risk of serious harm or death when she tries to leave that situation,” Hovey-Wright said. “My bill would protect the confidentiality and security of anyone leaving a violent relationship or seeking justice after rape or human trafficking from retaliation by those who harmed them. It would also protect the privacy of these survivors from employers, landlords or others who might use that information against them.”
Hovey-Wright’s bill is part of a bipartisan package of legislation aimed at supporting survivors of rape, domestic abuse, human trafficking and stalking that was announced this week. Other bills in the package include measures that would:
- Allow survivors of rape, domestic violence, human trafficking or stalking to use sick leave to seek medical attention, meet with police or prosecutors or move to a shelter, if their employer already allows for sick leave.
- Urge colleges and universities to update their policies and training to deal with sexual assault on campus.
- Ensure individuals aren’t disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits as a consequence of being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- Prevent landlords or Realtors from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their status as a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking.
“Leaving a violent relationship or seeking justice after sexual assault or trafficking takes courage, and we should do all we can to support these survivors,” Hovey-Wright said. “Protecting them from additional violence or retaliation is a common-sense measure that I’m sure my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will understand. I look forward to moving this bill through the Legislature and seeing it signed into law.”