Safe at Home is an address confidentiality program for victims of of domestic abuse, stalking, human trafficking, rape, sexual battery, or any other sexual offense.
The purpose of the program is to protect the confidentiality of a participant’s confidential address, which will most often be their residential address. Once a participant has been approved to participate, they will be provided with a ‘substitute’ address. The participant will then be able to use the ‘substitute’ address as their official mailing address for all state and local government purposes and for their children, including public school or public benefits enrollment, subject only to a few limited exceptions. By doing so, the participant’s confidential address will not appear in public records relating to either themselves or their children.
The Safe at Home Program will receive all first class and certified mail sent to the substitute address and then forward that mail to the participant at their mailing address.
How to Participate:
To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be a victim of domestic abuse, stalking, human trafficking, or any sexual offense, such as rape or sexual battery. Applicants must be able to provide ONE of the following:
- Documentation that an ongoing criminal case exists that may result in (or has already resulted in) a conviction by a judge, jury or guilty plea in which the applicant was a victim of domestic abuse, stalking, human trafficking, or any other sexual offense; or
- Documentation that a court has granted an order of protection which is in effect at the time of the application; or,
- The applicant must submit a notarized statement by a licensed professional, such as an attorney, social worker, or therapist, confirming that the applicant is a victim of abuse and that the applicant is in danger of further harm.
- You must have relocated to a new residence within the previous thirty (30) days or presently intend to relocate to a new residence within the next ninety (90) days.
- The move requirements do not apply if the Secretary of State determines that the program applicant is currently residing in a domestic violence shelter, or a similar facility.
You are not eligible to participate in the following circumstances:
A person who is required by law to be registered under any of the following is not eligible to participate in the program:
- Tennessee Sexual Offender and Violent Sexual Offender Registration Verification and Tracking Act of 2004, compiled at Title 40, Chapter 39, Part 2;
- Tennessee Animal Abuser Registration Act, compiled at Title 40, Chapter 39, Part 1
- Registry of persons who have abused, neglected, or misappropriated the property of vulnerable individuals, compiled at Title 68, Chapter 11, Part 10; or,
- Drug offender registry under Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-17-436.
The following individuals are able to complete an application:
- Any adult may apply on their own behalf
- A parent may apply on behalf of their minor child
- A fiduciary, such as a guardian or conservator, may apply on behalf of a minor or a person with a disability
An application form must be completed with the assistance of a Certified Application Assistant, who must also sign the application. Certified Application Assistants work with various state and local agencies and/or nonprofit agencies that provide counseling and shelter services to victims of domestic abuse and other crimes.
A list of Certified Application Assistants can be found here.
Once an applicant has been approved, the Safe At Home Program will issue to the participant:
- A Certificate of Program Participation
- A Program Authorization Card
- A unique substitute address
- A Participant Identification Number.
- Additional instructions and documentation required by law
The Substitute Address
Once a substitute address has been assigned, the Safe At Home Program will accept all first class and certified mail received at the substitute address. The Safe At Home Program will also accept all service of process directed to the program participant. When mail or other documents are received, the Safe At Home Program will forward those materials to the program participant at their designated mailing address.
The Safe At Home Program will not accept packages or other boxes, unless clearly marked as sent from a state or local government agency. The Safe At Home Program will not accept or forward magazines, catalogs, or other advertising materials (i.e., junk mail). Participants should not attempt use the substitute address for receipt of perishable or fragile materials or controlled substances - these packages may be refused and returned to the sender at the Office of the Secretary of State's sole discretion.
- Participants should always use the substitute address when interacting with a state or local government entity, whether on their own behalf or on behalf of their children. Participants should never disclose their confidential address, unless required by law to do so.
- Participants should always notify the state or local government official or entity with whom they are interacting that they are a program participant and that their residential address is confidential.
- Participants should always be prepared to provide officials with a copy of their program participation certificate.
- If a Participant has filed paperwork with a state or local government entity using their confidential address within 30 days prior to their application for program participation, the participant should immediately contact the state or local agency to notify them of the Participant's participation certification, provide a copy of the Participant's Certificate of Program Participation, and request that the participant's confidential address be protected.
- If a Participant is asked to verify their residential address for purposes of enrolling either themselves or their minor children in a public school, the Participant should provide the school with a copy of their Certificate of Program Participation and your substitute address. Then, direct school officials to contact the Office of the Secretary of State for further verifications in accordance with T.C.A. §§ 40-38-602, 606.
- Participants should provide their Public Utility Service Providers (electric, water, and gas, etc.) with a copy of their Certificate of Program Participation and their substitute address, and then request that the Public Utility Service Provider keep their residential address confidential. These requests should be presented to the Public Utility Service Provider's records custodian.
Program Participants are also required to update their contact and application information with the Safe At Home Program any time that any change occurs. Failure to do so may result in the cancellation of program participation.
Safe at Home is most effective as part of an overall safety plan. Additional information regarding safety plans can be found here.