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How can residents protect themselves from domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a widespread problem in Illinois. If you are being mentally or physically harassed or abused by a partner or spouse, or if anyone in the house is threatening to hurt you or your children, then you are a victim of domestic violence and you should seek immediate help from law enforcement officials.

Anyone who physically assaults, threatens, harasses or interferes with the personal liberty of another family or household member can be charged with domestic violence in Illinois. Even former spouses and formerly involved couples, including same-sex couples, are covered by the definition of family member.

An order of protection against the abuser can be sought by visiting the office of the local circuit court clerk or by contacting an attorney. An order of protection can be filed with a divorce petition or during a criminal prosecution. The order will direct the abuser to stop using threats and abuse against the victim. The subject of a protection order also may be prohibited from visiting the victim at work or school, be ordered to say away from any children a couple may have, be required to hand over any weapons he or she owns and be compelled to attend counseling.

To file criminal charges against an abuser, a victim should contact police. Violations of protection orders are crimes, and victims should immediately notify police if they happen.

When contacted, law enforcement officers should arrest the abuser and help the victim get to a safe place or medical shelter. Abusers who contact their victims after an arrest may be committing another crime and thus should be reported by the victim. Law enforcement should also show the victim how to save evidence against the abuser.

Source: IllinoisAttorneyGeneral.gov, "Domestic Violence" Accessed on Nov 13, 2014

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