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Domestic violence is not confined to certain groups. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. Everyone argues or fights with their partner or spouse now and then. When that quarrel gets out of control and turns to physical violence or abuse it becomes a crime.

What is Abuse?

Abuse usually means physical violence such as pushing, shoving, grabbing, pulling, slapping, choking, punching, etc., but it can also mean threatening, harassing, willfully depriving (withholding food, medicine, care, etc.), stalking, or interfering with the victim's liberty.

Furthermore, when someone intimidates a partner or date by using physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, harassment, or stalking to control the behavior of their partner, they are committing domestic violence. Domestic violence is a crime. It is against the law for a spouse/partner to strike or beat you. It is not your fault! You are not responsible for someone else's violent behavior.

Facts About Domestic Violence

  • Nearly one-fourth of all relationships include violence.
  • Wife-beating is the most common but least reported crime in the U.S.
  • Over 40% of the women murdered are killed by their husbands or partners, usually after having been abused by them for years.
  • Up to one-half of all wives are beaten at least once by their husbands.
  • Domestic violence happens to people of all races, income, and education levels.
  • Violence in the home usually becomes more frequent and severe over time.
  • Victims of domestic violence may be silent because of embarrassment or shame.

What To Do After An Attack

  1. Seek medical help as soon as possible. Tell the hospital staff what happened.
  2. Make a police report, even if you do not want your abuser arrested. It documents the abuse which may become evidence for future court hearings ( such as a custody hearing, assault, battery, or stalking case).
  3. Save evidence such as police reports, medical reports, dated pictures of your injuries or damaged property, names and addresses of witnesses, weapons, etc.
  4. If you leave your spouse or partner, you may need some help, financial or otherwise. There are resources available. Counselors at any of the domestic violence programs or shelters can help you analyze your choices and work out a plan.

Law Enforcement Responsibilities

When a Law Enforcement officers responds to domestic violence at your home, the Illinois Domestic Violence Act requires that they take all reasonable steps to prevent further abuse, including, but not limited to:

  • Arresting the abuser when the officer has probable cause to believe an offense ( battery, assault, etc ) has occurred.
  • Assisting you by providing or arranging transportation for you to a hospital or shelter.
  • Assisting you in obtaining the necessary personal belongings ( clothing for you and your children, medicines, legal papers, etc. ) by accompanying you back to the home you left and standing by while you gather these items.
  • Advising you of your rights under the law and explaining how to press charges if the abuser has not been arrested.
  • Making a police report on every bona fide allegation of domestic violence.
  • You will need the report number in order to press charges in Domestic Violence Court.

The Legal System

Victims of domestic violence can obtain relief through the legal system. There are two ways in which relief can be obtained. One way is to pursue criminal charges against the offender, and the second is to pursue civil relief. The focus of this section is the criminal justice system. However, if a victim does not wish to pursue criminal charges against the offender, civil relief may be available.

Order of Protection

An Order of Protection is a court order available to "family or household members" prohibiting the abuser from certain activities or ordering the abuser to take certain actions. An Order of Protection may include, but is not limited to:

  1. Prohibiting an abuser from continued threats and abuse:

    ABUSE: physical abuse, harassment, intimidation, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation, not including the reasonable direction of a minor child by a parent or person acting in place of a parent.
  2. Barring an abuser temporarily from the home and ordering the abuser to stay away from the victim's place of employment, school, etc.;
  3. Ordering the abuser to pay child support, medical costs and legal expenses;
  4. Awarding child custody and prohibiting child abduction and requiring abuser to undergo counseling.

To obtain an Order of Protection, you may do any of the following:

  1. Contact a nearby domestic violence or legal advocacy program and ask for assistance.
  2. Go to your local circuit clerk's office and request the necessary paperwork;
  3. Ask your attorney to file a petition in civil court;
  4. Request an order in conjunction with divorce proceedings; or
  5. Request an order during the course of a criminal prosecution

If an Order of Protection is violated, the abuser has committed a Class A Misdemeanor and should be arrested. A second or subsequent offense is a Class 4 Felony. You may seek an Order of Protection on behalf of someone who cannot because of age, health, or disability.

More Information on Orders of Protection

Procedure to Obtain an Emergency Order of Protection

  1. Go to Office of the Circuit Clerk - Room 212, Will County Courthouse
    1. Request from Clerk the following forms: Forms 10A, 10B, 10C, and 11A, 11B, and 11C.
    2. Ask the Clerk to direct you to the court personnel who will assist you with the proper completion of these forms. (Assistance can be obtained in the cubicle located at the entrance of Room 212.)
    3. After forms are completed, the person helping you will return the forms to the Clerk, who will then make up a file.
    4. Clerk then escorts Petitioner to the Courtroom
  2. Appearance before Judge
    1. If Emergency Order of Protection is granted by Judge:
      1. The Judge will assign a return date and time for an Extension Hearing. ( A copy of the Petition and Order of Protection will be provided with the return date information, " do not leave without it").
      2. The date will be 14 to 21 days after the issuance of the Emergency Order of Protection.
      3. The time will be 9:30 a.m., in Courtroom 307.
    2. If Emergency Order of Protection is not granted by Judge:
      1. The Judge sets a Hearing Date instead of issuing an Emergency Order of Protection. A time (9:30 a.m.) and date (within 21 days from filing date) is set in courtroom 307. At the time, date, and place, a Hearing will be held to determine whether an Order of Protection will be granted.
  3. Circuit Clerk's Office
    1. A Clerk then sends the Order of Protection of the Hearing Notice to the Sheriff.
      1. The Sheriff serve the Respondent with the Order of Protection or Notice of Hearing. Through this service the Respondent is made aware of the remedies under the Order with time and date of the Extension Hearing or Hearing.
    2. Service outside Will County
      1. Clerk prepares 3 additional copies of the Order of Protection and gives them to the Petitioner.
      2. Petitioner must take these copies to the Sheriff's Office in the county where the Respondent resides so that the Sheriff in that county can serve the Respondent.
      3. Request that the Sheriff mail back to you the "Proof of Service." Or, you can arrange to pick it up to assure that you have the document in time to present it to the Judge at the Extension hearing.
      4. This document is the Petitioner's proof that the Respondent was served with the Order of Protection, and is very important because it shows the court that the Respondent was served.
  4. Extension Hearing/Hearing
    1. When you return to court of the date and time indicated on the Order of Protection, go to Court room 307, look for a list with your name on it under the heading "Order of Protection," go into the Courtroom and wait for the Judge to call your name.
    2. If you ( the Petitioner ) do not appear, the Order will be dismissed. make sure you appear, even if you intend to drop the Order of Protection. This is an important part of the proceedings.
    3. You ( Petitioner ) should bring witnesses and/or proof of the abuse, such as pictures. You may ask the Judge to:
      1. Extend the Order
      2. Charge parts of it; or
      3. Drop the Order.
  5. You may bring an attorney, but one is not required.
  6. The Respondent may appear with or without an attorney. At this time Respondent will tell his/her part of the story.
  7. After hearing statements of both parties, the Judge may end the proceedings or extend the Order of Protection up to two years.
  8. Be sure to return for every extension date the Judge sets, even if you want to drop the Order of Protection