*Reposted from Gotham Gazette. Written by Ethan Geringer-Sameth*

Governor Kathy Hochul is signing two bills Thursday to protect the personal information and finances of domestic violence survivors fleeing their abusers.

One bill allows survivors to shield their home address in public records when registering to vote with the Board of Elections. The second bill requires utility companies to release individuals from shared contracts without charge when they affirm that they are victims of domestic abuse. The latter makes it easier for individuals to leave abusive homes without the financial penalties often attached to seeking safety. State lawmakers passed the bills almost unanimously this spring.

"My mother worked with domestic violence survivors all her life, and I’m proud to continue the mission to put an end to abuse and support the needs of survivors and families,” Hochul said in a statement provided to Gotham Gazette. “Requiring utility companies to release survivors of domestic violence from their contracts freeing up funds for necessities as they get their feet on the ground in a new home and keeping those new homes’ addresses confidential ensures survivors can live there safely."

The legislations’ supporters say the laws will help individuals, especially women and youths, extricate themselves from abusive environments. Home addresses in Board of Elections records can be used by abusers to locate their victims and renew cycles of harm. And so-called "escape clauses" in utility contracts can mitigate the often great personal costs survivors sustain when they break free, the bill's sponsors said. The new provision only applies to contracts initiated after the law is signed.

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