Victim Witness and Domestic Violence Services

Domestic Violence Services

Domestic violence can happen to anyone. It does not matter what age, race, sexual orientation, income, education, ability, or gender someone may be. Anyone can suffer from abuse at any time.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can take on many forms:

Physical abuse (includes but not limited to): pushing, shoving, slapping, hitting, kicking, punching, choking or restricting airway/breathing, pinching, burning, beating, spitting, hair pulling, throwing objects, damaging property, cruelty to pets or animals, threats or use of weapons (guns, knives, or any object), physical restraint (pinning against wall, floor, bed, etc).

Verbal and emotional abuse (includes but not limited to): name-calling, yelling, degrading remarks, verbal insults, cursing, threatening, belittling, attempts to control, constant phone calls, actively undermining, manipulation, extreme jealousy, explosive temper, harsh criticism, efforts to foster self-doubt and lower self-esteem.

Controlling behavior (includes but not limited to): isolates you from friends and family, confinement, stalking, monitoring or tracking your movements and whereabouts, possessive, tells you what to wear and who you can talk to, controls what you eat, prevents you from making own decisions, controls finances and money, sabotages employment, childcare arrangements or plans with friends or family, coercive, intimidating, pressuring or forcing you to use drugs or alcohol.

Social abuse (includes but not limited to): checking your phone, invading your privacy, confining, isolating, publically embarrassing, publically degrading, not allowing you to attend school, not allowing you to work or go to work, trying to convince friends and family you are crazy, slandering your reputation, non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images.

Sexual abuse (includes but not limited to): unwanted touching, forced or coerced sexual activity, painful or degrading acts during intercourse, sexual exploitation through pornography or prostitution, forcing sex with others, withholding contraceptives or refusing to use protection to prevent pregnancy or protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

Financial/Economic abuse (includes but not limited to): Deny access to family assets (bank accounts, credit cards, vehicle, etc), destroy property or prized possessions, take money you earn or deny access to money, withhold medical treatment, not allow you to work or attend school or force you to work.

Neglect (includes but not limited to): Fail to provide or withhold food, shelter, clothing, and personal hygiene to a dependent person who needs such assistance, failure to take care of the needs of the dependent person, and the failure to protect the dependent person from health and safety hazards.

Spiritual abuse (includes but not limited to): Using religion or spiritual beliefs to control, manipulate or empower abuser to engage in controlling and/or abusive behavior such as make all family decisions, rigidly define roles of woman and men in the relationship/marriage, expecting to be treated with a level of respect that is not returned.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can take on many forms:

Physical abuse (includes but not limited to): pushing, shoving, slapping, hitting, kicking, punching, choking or restricting airway/breathing, pinching, burning, beating, spitting, hair pulling, throwing objects, damaging property, cruelty to pets or animals, threats or use of weapons (guns, knives, or any object), physical restraint (pinning against wall, floor, bed, etc).

Verbal and emotional abuse (includes but not limited to): name-calling, yelling, degrading remarks, verbal insults, cursing, threatening, belittling, attempts to control, constant phone calls, actively undermining, manipulation, extreme jealousy, explosive temper, harsh criticism, efforts to foster self-doubt and lower self-esteem.

Controlling behavior (includes but not limited to): isolates you from friends and family, confinement, stalking, monitoring or tracking your movements and whereabouts, possessive, tells you what to wear and who you can talk to, controls what you eat, prevents you from making own decisions, controls finances and money, sabotages employment, childcare arrangements or plans with friends or family, coercive, intimidating, pressuring or forcing you to use drugs or alcohol.

Social abuse (includes but not limited to): checking your phone, invading your privacy, confining, isolating, publically embarrassing, publically degrading, not allowing you to attend school, not allowing you to work or go to work, trying to convince friends and family you are crazy, slandering your reputation, non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images.

Sexual abuse (includes but not limited to): unwanted touching, forced or coerced sexual activity, painful or degrading acts during intercourse, sexual exploitation through pornography or prostitution, forcing sex with others, withholding contraceptives or refusing to use protection to prevent pregnancy or protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

Financial/Economic abuse (includes but not limited to): Deny access to family assets (bank accounts, credit cards, vehicle, etc), destroy property or prized possessions, take money you earn or deny access to money, withhold medical treatment, not allow you to work or attend school or force you to work.

Neglect (includes but not limited to): Fail to provide or withhold food, shelter, clothing, and personal hygiene to a dependent person who needs such assistance, failure to take care of the needs of the dependent person, and the failure to protect the dependent person from health and safety hazards.

Spiritual abuse (includes but not limited to): Using religion or spiritual beliefs to control, manipulate or empower abuser to engage in controlling and/or abusive behavior such as make all family decisions, rigidly define roles of woman and men in the relationship/marriage, expecting to be treated with a level of respect that is not returned.

Effects of Abuse on Victims

• Feeling hopeless and helpless
• Feeling confused about the relationship
• Blames herself for the abuse
• Makes excuses for the abuser’s behavior
• Feeling isolated from friends and family
• Self-doubt
• Wonders if she is crazy/insane
• Feeling emotionally numb
• Feeling embarrassed about the abuse
• Loss of self-esteem
• Tries to change the abuser
• Hopes the abuser will change
• Fears for her safety/wellbeing
• Experiences nightmares/sleep disturbances
• Has difficulty concentrating
• Experiences disturbed eating patterns
• Developed hypervigilance, depression and/or anxiety
• Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

Protective Orders

There are three types of civil protective orders in the state of Illinois; Orders of Protection (OP), Civil No Contact Orders (CNCO) and Stalking No Contact Orders (SNCO). When a criminal case is pending, a “No Contact” order as a condition of bond may be ordered by the Judge.

Effective January 1, 2019, a family or household member or law enforcement officer may petition for a Firearms Restraining Orders (FRO) against a person alleged to pose a danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself, or another by having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.

The process of petitioning for an Order of Protection, Civil No Contact Order and Stalking No Contact Order through the civil court is the same for each type of protective order and is similar for Firearms Restraining Orders.

https://www.illinoisprotectionorder.org

Order of Protection (OP)

What is an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection is a legal document granted by the judge that orders the person who has threatened or hurt you to stop and have no contact or limited contact with you. Seeking an Emergency Order of Protection can be a very important step in staying safer. It is important to seek an Emergency Order of Protection immediately, or as soon as possible, after the occurrence of domestic violence.

Who is eligible for an Order of Protection?

Family or household members of an alleged abuser who have been the victim of domestic abuse/violence may petition for an Order of Protection. According to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA), abuse is defined as physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation. The IDVA defines family or household members as:

  • Persons related by blood or by a present or former marriage.
  • Persons who have or have or had a dating or engagement relationship.
  • Persons who have or allegedly have a child in common.
  • Persons who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child
  • Persons who live together or formerly lived together.
  • Persons with disabilities and their personal assistants.
  • High-risk adults with disabilities abused by a family member or caregiver.
  • Caregivers (as defined in Section 12-4.4a of the Criminal Code of 2012).

How much will an Order of Protection cost?

It’s free. The IDVA states that there are no fees charged for filing an Order of Protection.

How long does an Order of Protection last?

The duration of an Order of Protection may vary. Your attorney or court advocate can best answer this question for you. There are three types of Orders of Protection. Each type may be granted for a specific length of time.

EMERGENCY ORDER OF PROTECTION: This order can be in effect for a 14- to 21-day period.

INTERIM ORDER OF PROTECTION: This order can be effective for up to 30 days.

PLENARY ORDER OF PROTECTION: This order can be in effect for a fixed period of time, not to exceed two years, unless otherwise provided for by the court. This order can also expire by the occurrence of a specific event.

What remedies may be granted by the judge under an Order of Protection?

The judge can grant up to 18 remedies to keep you safer including:

  • Ordering the Respondent to stop abusive behaviors.
  • Limiting or stopping contact between the Respondent and you.
  • Ordering the Respondent to leave your home and stay away from it.
  • Limiting or stopping the Respondent´s visitation with the children.
  • Protecting certain items of property, like cars or household goods.
  • Ordering the Respondent to pay for child support or other expenses.
  • Ordering the Respondent to get counseling.
  • Ordering the Respondent to turn in guns or other weapons to the police.

Where do I get an Emergency Order of Protection?

You can petition for an Emergency Order of Protection Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the second floor at the Will County Courthouse, 14 W. Jefferson St., in downtown Joliet.

Who is the respondent and who is the petitioner?

The victim files the petition and is called the petitioner. The petition is filed against the abuser who is called the respondent.

Do I need an attorney to Petition for an Order of Protection?

You can Petition for an Order of Protection on your own, but it may be helpful to have an attorney represent you. Prairie State Legal Services offers a toll-free Victims Legal Advice Line – (844) 388-7757 – that is available to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse for legal advice about certain matters. Prairie State Legal Services also provides free legal assistance and representation on certain civil matters to individuals who meet their eligibility requirements. Please call Prairie State Legal Services Joliet Office directly at (815) 727-5123 to determine your eligibility for assistance.

The Will County Bar Association offers a Lawyer Referral Service in which each participating attorney will charge $15 for the initial 30-minute consultation. (Beyond 30 minutes, they charge their rates, including any retainer fees).  You can request a lawyer referral through this service by going to the Will County Bar Association website at http://www.willcountybar.org/index.php?option=com_referral or calling (815) 726-0383.

It is also helpful to speak with an advocate. Guardian Angel Community Services provides legal advocacy and they can be reached at their Domestic Violence 24-hour hotline at (815) 729-1228 and the Sexual Assault 24-hour hotline at (815) 730-8984.

How are the Orders of Protection filled out?

The first step is completing what is referred to as a Petition for Order of Protection. You are petitioning or requesting the court grant the Order of Protection against the respondent. A Petition for Order of Protection may be completed at the courthouse or from any computer or electronic device with internet access at www.illinoisprotectionorder.org. Courthouse employees and/or domestic violence advocates are available at the courthouse to assist with completing the Petition. Once the Petition is completed and signed, it is taken before a judge to be reviewed. The judge determines whether there is good cause shown for an Order of Protection to be granted.

How do I complete a Petition for Order of Protection online?

You can start or complete a Petition online at www.illinoisprotectionorder.org. This website can be accessed on any computer or electronic device with internet access at any time. The website is very user-friendly and has tabs/links to click to define terms and assist you as you complete the Petition. Once you start a Petition online, you will receive a receipt number at the beginning of the process. This number should be kept in a safe location and allows you to start, stop and continue completing the petition as needed. You can complete or partially complete the Petition online. When you are ready to go to the courthouse to proceed with the Petition, you must take the receipt number to the Order of Protection Room. The Order of Protection courthouse staff will assist with finishing the Petition or any final preparations for the judge’s

What is the process to obtain an Emergency Order of Protection/Plenary Order of Protection?

  • Go to the Order of Protection Room at the courthouse.
    If you have completed or partially completed the Petition online bring your receipt number with you and provide it to the Order of Protection courthouse staff. If you have not completed the Petition online, you will need to complete the Petition in the Order of Protection Room.
  • The Petition will ask about the most recent incident of violence/abuse as well as past incidents of abuse.
  • Include as much detail as possible in your Petition.
  • Your children may be protected under your Emergency Order of Protection. You need to write about any abuse directed at them.
  • You will go before a judge who will hear your petition.
  • Tell the judge about the abuse.
  • Try to stay calm and answer any questions the judge may have.
  • If you are afraid of your abuser, you must tell the judge.
  • The judge may grant your Emergency Order of Protection for a two or three week period during which the respondent will be served or attempts will be made to serve the respondent with notice of the Emergency Order of Protection and a summons to appear for a hearing on the Plenary Order of Protection.
  • The judge may not grant the Emergency Order of Protection and may schedule a hearing on the Plenary Order about three weeks from the date the Petition is filed. During this time the respondent will be served or attempts will be made to serve the respondent with a summons to appear for the hearing on the Plenary Order.
  • If a hearing is scheduled for a Plenary Order, you must return to court on the hearing date to seek the Plenary Order of Protection which may be may be entered for up to two years.
  • At the hearing for the Plenary Order, it is important to know the alleged abuser/respondent will have a chance to appear and tell his or her side of the story.
  • Knowing the respondent may be present for the hearing, consider any safety planning that may be necessary – Not attending court alone, contacting an advocate to accompany you, having someone accompany you to and from the courthouse, etc.
  • At the hearing, try to stay calm, tell the judge why it is important that the Plenary Order of Protection is granted and answer any questions the judge may have.
  • The judge will ensure both sides are heard.

What if the judge denies the Emergency Order of Protection and the Plenary Order of Protection?

There is a possibility the judge may deny the Petition for Emergency Order of Protection and set a hearing on the Plenary Order of Protection. This could mean the judge wants to hear both sides before making a decision on whether to grant the Order of Protection. The judge could also deny the Order of Protection all together. However, if anything of an abusive, harassing or threatening nature were to occur you can always petition for an Emergency Order of Protection again. Just because a petition was denied once does not mean that another petition in the future will be denied.

Do I need pictures or a police report to obtain an Emergency Order of Protection?

Police reports and pictures can be helpful but are not necessary to file for an Emergency Order of Protection. If you have visible injuries, ALWAYS take pictures.

Can I bring my phone to Court?

If there is information on your phone you believe is evidence of the respondent’s abusive, harassing or threatening behavior, inform the judge of this at the Emergency hearing and request permission to bring your phone into court at the Plenary hearing. You CANNOT bring your phone into the courthouse without a form from the judge granting you permission.

How long will I be in the courthouse?

The process of filing for an Emergency Order of Protection can be lengthy and may take several hours. For your convenience, washrooms are located on each floor of the courthouse and there is a snack room on the first floor as well as many eating establishments within walking distance.

How do criminal charges affect my Order of Protection?

They don’t. Orders of Protection and criminal charges are two separate matters. If no criminal charges are filed, or if they are dismissed, you may still petition for an Order of Protection.

Civil No Contact Order (CNCO)

What is a Civil No Contact Order?

A Civil No Contact Order is a civil protective order similar to an Order of Protection but is designed specifically for survivors of sexual assault. Whether or not an assault is reported or charges are filed, a survivor may petition for a Civil No Contact Order to address their safety and protection from future interactions with the offender. Petitioning for a Civil No Contact Order follows the same process as petitioning for an Order of Protection.

Who is eligible for a Civil No Contact Order?

  • Any person who is the victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or sexual penetration.
  • Any family or household member of the victim.
  • Any employee or volunteer at a rape crisis center that is providing services to the petitioner or the petitioner’s family or household member.

How much will it cost?

It’s free. The Civil No Contact Order Act states that there are no fees charged for filing a Civil No Contact Order.

What remedies may be granted by the judge under a Civil No Contact Order?

The judge may grant any or all of the following remedies:

  • Prohibiting contact with the victim.
  • Ordering the offender to stay away from the victim and/or to stay away from specific locations.
  • Ordering the offender to stay away from property or animals owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by the petitioner.
  • Ordering offender to transfer to another school if the victim and offender attend the same school.
  • Other injunctive relief is necessary to protect the victim.

The process of petitioning for a Civil No Contact Order is the same as for an Order of Protection. For more information about the process please see the information provided under the Order of Protection link.

Stalking No Contact Orders (SNCO)

What is a Stalking No Contact Order?

A Stalking No Contact Order is a civil protective order similar to an Order of Protection but is designed for any person who is the victim a course of conduct that causes the victim to fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person or to suffer emotional distress and relief is not available to the victim through the Illinois Domestic Violence Act or the Civil No Contact Order Act. Petitioning for a Stalking No Contact Order follows the same process as petitioning for an Order of Protection.

Who is eligible for a Stalking No Contact Order?

  • Any person who is a victim of stalking and relief is not available through the Illinois Domestic Violence Act or the Civil No Contact Order Act.
  • A person on behalf of a minor child or an adult who is a victim of stalking but, because of age, disability, health, or inaccessibility, cannot file the petition.

How much will a Stalking No Contact Order cost?

It’s free. The Stalking No Contact Order Act states that there are no fees charged for filing a Stalking No Contact Order.

What remedies may be granted by the judge under a Civil No Contact Order?

The judge may grant any or all of the following remedies:

  • Prohibiting further stalking or threats of stalking.
  • Prohibiting contact with the victim.
  • Ordering stalker to stay away from specific locations.
  • Prohibiting stalker from having a FOID card and possessing or buying firearms.
  • Ordering other injunctive relief necessary to protect the victim.

The process of petitioning for a Stalking No Contact Order is the same as for an Order of Protection. For more information about the process please see the information provided under the Order of Protection link.

Firearms Restraining Order (FRO)

What is a Firearms Restraining Order?

A Firearms Restraining Order is an Order issued by the civil court, prohibiting a person from having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving any firearms.

Who may petition for a Firearms Restraining Order?

  • A Family member of the Respondent. A family member is defined as a spouse, parent, child, or step-child of the respondent, any other person related by blood or present marriage to the respondent, or a person who shares a common dwelling with the respondent
  • A law enforcement officer.

How much will a Firearms Restraining Order cost?

It’s free. The Firearms Restraining Order Act states that there are no fees charged for filing a Firearms Restraining Order.

What remedies may be granted by the judge under a Firearms Restraining Order?

  • Prohibit the respondent from having in his or her custody or control any firearms.
  • Prohibit respondent from purchasing, possessing, or receiving additional firearms.
  • Order respondent to turn over to the local law enforcement agency any Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) and concealed carry license in his or her possession.
  • If the Court finds probable cause to believe that the Respondent is in possession of firearms, then (1) the Court shall issue a warrant for the seizure of the firearms; and (2) the Court may issue a search warrant to locate the firearms.

For more information, please contact the Will County Court House at (815) 727-8592, TTY: 800-526-0844 or go to their website at www.circuitclerkofwillcounty.com.

Safety Planning

Take steps to protect yourself against the potential for future violence. You can develop a plan to increase your safety. Although you do not have control over your partner’s violence, you can choose how to respond and how to get you and/or your children to safety. Most of the safety planning you do should occur before an attack.

BEFORE AN ATTACK

1) Prepare an Emergency Kit including:

  • Money (Checkbook, ATM card, credit cards, bank books). Be careful in using bank accounts/credit cards after you leave your abuser because he may be able to track this activity.
  • Identification for yourself including birth certificate.
  • Identification for your children including birth certificates.
  • Social security cards.
  • School and vaccination records. You might consider contacting schools and doctor’s offices to make sure your abuser cannot access these records.
  • Insurance papers.
  • Keys for the house, car or office.
  • Drivers license and registration.
  • Medication and medical records for you and your children.
  • Public Aid identification, work permits, medical cards.
  • Passports.
  • Legal documents including divorce, child custody, Orders of Protection, visitation orders, etc.
  • Lease agreements, deeds, mortgage payment books.
  • Address book.
  • Pictures, jewelry, other items of sentimental value.
  • Your children’s favorite toy or blanket.
  • Phone – You might consider contacting phone companies to make sure your abuser cannot access account information. If you do not have a cell phone, contact a domestic violence program and ask if they have access to a no-contract cell phone that you can use to call 911 at any time.

2) Make Contacts: Decide if and when you will tell others that you have been abused. Friends, family, and co-workers can help protect you. Consider carefully which people you trust to help secure your safety. You may also consider choosing one of these people to leave your emergency kit with to ensure that your abuser does not find it. Make sure that the people you choose know why you are leaving them these items so they do not accidentally let it slip if your abuser talks with them. NOTE: If you do not have any safe contacts, consider placing your emergency kit items in your desk drawer at work or hidden somewhere inside your home. Keys can be hidden in a magnetic box that attaches under the fender of your car. Check for the box frequently.

3) Develop an Escape Plan: If you need to leave during a violent incident, practice beforehand how you will get out safely. Practice your exit.

4) Find a Safe Place: Decide ahead of time on two safe alternative places where you can go if you must flee an abusive relationship. Notify these people ahead of time and share your emergency contact information with them ahead of time. This will allow your safety contacts to plan ahead of time for their safety as well as yours. Tell a trusted family member or friend about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from your house.

5) Will County Domestic Violence Services: Contact your local domestic violence agency to find out about the services that are available to you. Ask the domestic violence advocates about creating a safety plan and whether or not they provide shelter if you need a safe place to escape to.

The domestic violence agency for Will County is:
Guardian Angel Community Services
Groundwork Domestic Violence Program 24 Hour Hotline: (815) 729-1228

TTY: (815) 741-4643 www.guardianangelhome.org

NOTE: Always remember to call 911 in the event of an emergency.

6) Prepare Your Children: Whether or not your children have been harmed by your abuser, they are still at risk in any violent relationship.

• Teach your children to use the telephone and call 911 when necessary.
• Rehearse your escape plan with them but have realistic expectations. Your children may be frightened of your abuser, but be aware they may also feel uneasy keeping secrets from him.
• Tell teachers, caregivers, and babysitters who has permission to pick up your children and to call the police if your abuser arrives to pick them up instead.
• If you have an Order of Protection, make sure each child’s school has a copy on file.
• Develop a code word ahead of time you can use with your children so they know when to call for help.

7) Safety at Your Home: There are various additional precautions that you may take if your abuser does not reside with you. It may be impossible to do everything at once, but safety measures can be taken and added. Consider the following:

• Change the locks on all doors and windows.
• Replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
• Install security devices that can include anything from additional locks to poles, wedges against doors, window bars and electronic systems.
• Purchase rope ladders to use to escape from second-story windows.
• Install smoke detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for each floor in your house or apartment.
• Install outside lighting systems that are motion-sensitive.
• Install home surveillance systems if possible.
• Inform your neighbors, pastor, and friends that your abuser no longer resides with you. Let them know that they should call the police if they see your former partner near your residence.
• Buy a cell phone with no contract and limited minutes so that you have access to 911 at all times.
• Teach your children how to use the telephone to make collect calls to let you or others know if the abuser has taken them. They should always call 911 first!
• Tell teachers, caregivers, and babysitters who has permission to pick up your children and to call the police if your abuser arrives to pick them up instead.
• Make sure your children’s school has a copy of your Order of  Protection.

DURING AN ATTACK

Minimize your risk.

Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchen or anywhere near weapons or in rooms without access to an outside door. When you think you are going to have an argument, try to move to a space that is low-risk.

Trust yourself.

Always use your judgment and intuition. You know better than anyone else how your abuser is likely to react. If you feel that the situation is serious, and it is safe to do so, give your abuser what he wants to calm him down. You must protect yourself until you and/or your children are out of danger.

Call for Help.

Keep a cell phone on you at all times, even if it’s just a no-contract cell phone that you can use to call 911. If you do not have a phone when an attack occurs, scream loudly and continuously. You have nothing to be ashamed of. He does.

Get Away.

Escape if you can. Go to a relative’s or friend’s house or a domestic violence shelter.

Call the Police.

The police must now attempt to protect you from further abuse. They are required to provide or arrange transportation to a hospital or safe place for you and can arrest your abuser if they have enough evidence of a crime. They must give you a paper explaining your rights and telling you of one social service agency which can help.

AFTER AN ATTACK

Seek Medical Attention Immediately.

Tell the doctor or nurse what happened and ask them to take pictures of your injuries. Find out how to get copies of your records if you need them later.

Make a Police Report.

Police reports may be filed with the local police department or the county sheriff’s department. Once a police report is completed the police department may provide it to the State’s Attorney’s Office for review to determine whether charges can be filed. You may also contact the State’s Attorney’s Office yourself and provide the police report for review to determine whether charges may be filed.

NOTE: If the police take photographs of your injuries on the scene, specifically bruising injuries, it is important to follow up and have the police take additional photographs as the injuries progress (bruising wounds usually do not develop fully until a day or two after an attack.)

Save Evidence.

The police should compile any evidence including pictures of your injuries, damage to property, torn clothing, any weapons used and statements from anyone who heard or saw the attack.

NOTE: It is also suggested that you take pictures of any injuries for your own records in case you may need to use them in civil proceedings.

Talk to Someone about the choices you have including a domestic violence social service agency which can give you information about whom to call for help and what some of your choices are. Find out about legal remedies available to you through an Order of Protection.

Create an Abuse Journal.

Writing down dates, times, and details of your abusive history can be extremely helpful in any legal proceedings involving you and your abuser. Remember to also keep this journal in a safe place away from your abuser which may mean a secure location outside of the home.

Remember, most abusers become more violent over time. Physical violence, especially, tends to become more severe and more frequent. Even though you may be afraid, take action NOW! Your safety and the safety of your children may depend upon your willingness to act. It can be more dangerous to do nothing than to take some action.

This safety plan can be used as a general guide for all victims of domestic violence; however, each person’s situation is unique. It is important to contact a domestic violence program in order to create a safety plan that is specific to your situation. Having these steps completed ahead of time can make your decision to leave an abusive situation much easier. In addition, these things can help you find peace of mind and a sense of more control over your life.

Special Circumstances

Safety on the Job and in Public:

Remember to carefully select who you tell about the violence and who you choose to help. It is important to make sure the person is comfortable calling the police if your abuser shows up at work or finds you in public. This is also a safety issue for this person. As a victim of domestic violence, you may do any of the following to ensure the safety of yourself and your dependents:

  • Inform your employer or the security supervisor at work of your situation.
  • Ask a coworker to help you screen your calls at work.
  • When leaving work, ask security to walk you to your car.
  • Shop at different grocery stores and malls. Shop at hours that are different than those you normally use.
  • Use a different bank and bank at hours different from those you usually use.
  • Take different driving routes to places that you frequent.

Safety and Your Emotional Health

Being abused and verbally degraded can be exhausting and emotionally draining. The process of building a new life takes courage and energy. Consider these steps that you can take to conserve your energy and ease the emotional strain.

  • Think about the things you can tell yourself when you are considering returning to an abusive situation.
  • Educate yourself on domestic violence and ways to develop healthy relationships for the future.
  • Identify the red flags of an abusive relationship and always keep them in mind.
  • Consider books, magazines, internet self-help pages, etc. that you can read to make yourself stronger.
  • Attend support groups and/or individual therapy through a local domestic violence program in order to gain support and strengthen your relationships with other people.
    Safety with an Order of ProtectionYou can never be certain whether an abuser will obey an Order of Protection or not. Recognize that you may need to ask the police or the courts to enforce your Order of Protection.
  • Keep your Order of Protection so that it will always be with you. It should be easily accessible in your purse, in the car, in your office, etc.
  • Make several copies of your Order of Protection in case it is requested by the police, your child’s school or a state agency.
  • File your Order of Protection with the court in other counties that you visit regularly.
  • Call your local domestic violence program if you are unsure of any of the steps listed here or if you are having problems regarding your Order of Protection.
  • If your Order of Protection is lost or stolen, you can get another copy from the Will County Courthouse by going to the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office at 14 W. Jefferson Street in Joliet, IL.
  • If your Order of Protection is violated, you should call the police immediately and file a report. Also, contact your attorney and/or advocate if you have one.
  • Once a police report is filed, you may also ask that a complaint be filed with the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office at 121 N. Chicago Street, Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • The State could potentially charge your abuser with a violation of the Order of Protection and all the crimes that he commits in violating that order.

Safety and Drug or Alcohol

Use If your abuser uses drugs or alcohol, your risk for violence increases significantly. If you use drugs or alcohol, your ability to react quickly and use sound judgment can be lessened. Additionally, your drug or alcohol use can be used against you in legal proceedings with your abuser by lessening your credibility.

  • Your abuser may use his drug or alcohol use as an excuse for “losing control” during an abusive incident.
  • Drug and alcohol use and abuse are never an excuse for violence. Rather, they are additional risk factors that may contribute to the frequency and severity of violence.
  • Keep friends that understand the risk of violence and who are committed to staying clean and sober and will help you stay safe.
  • If you think that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, contact a local treatment program to have an assessment completed.