New law will protect sexual abuse survivors


ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Survivors of sexual and domestic assault will receive an extra layer of protection with a new law that allows survivors of sexual assault and stalking to keep their home addresses confidential to reduce the risk that their attacker may locate them.

“It’s another layer of protection for sexual assault survivors and stalking survivors that we’re excited to see for them,” says Erica Engler, Executive Director of Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling.

The measure enables people to list the Illinois attorney general’s office as their contact address in some circumstances through the address confidentiality program already established for domestic violence survivors.

“Many times after a sexual assault or a stalking survivor feel the need to move because the perpetrator knows where they live and so this bill ensures they don’t have to give their new address,” Engler said.

According to Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley, once an application is accepted victims and survivors can create a substitute address to be used for public records.

“The requirements to the survivor and the victim are really just to fill out an online application and they give their current address and where they believe they are going to move to,” Hanley says.

He adds that the survivors don’t have to provide any police reports in order to fill out the application.

“So let’s say I live at 123 Main Street, on my drivers license I don’t have to put 123 Main Street I put whatever the designated attorney general address is and then when people want to send me mail they send it to that attorney generals office address and it’s forwarded to the 123 address where I live,” Hanley explained, using an example of how it would work.

He says this bill is another tool that can be used to help survivors and it’s recognizing the challenges many survivors face when it comes to escaping from their attacker.

“This needs to get to the people that need it, so often survivors of domestic violence really don’t know about the resources that are available to them and so for our offices we have victim service providers and one of the things we’ve talk to them about is letting them know this program is available,” Hanley said.

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