Domestic Violence – Ending the Cycle with Long Term Solutions
What is domestic violence? The Illinois Domestic Violence Act, home of the current order of protection laws, defines domestic violence as physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty, or willful deprivation. Some obvious forms of domestic violence include punching, slapping or choking. Not all domestic violence is as blatant or obvious, such as repeatedly following someone around (stalking behavior); keeping someone under surveillance; or engaging in unnecessary conduct that causes you distress. While these behaviors may seem like a mere annoyance, they relate to the abuser’s sense of power and control over the victim, and may be the first step in a pattern of escalating violence.
Domestic violence is a widespread problem and plagues many families. Last month my partner and I attended the IFVCC’s Domestic Violence Training for Mediators, Guardians ad Litem and Judges in Springfield, IL. There we discussed the dynamics of domestic violence, the impact of domestic violence on children; and long-term strategies for minimizing the risk of further violence.
For many victims, the first step to escaping domestic violence is seeking an Order of Protection, or OP. A properly litigated Order of Protection can bar the abuser from coming within 500 feet of the victim, require the Abuser to forfeit his or her firearms, prohibit the abuser from contacting the victim, provide the victim with exclusive possession of a shared home, and provide temporary remedies relating to children.
Solutions DO Exist
An OP can be a powerful tool for ensuring the safety of a victim, but is only a short-term solution. Especially when there are children involved, a more permanent solution is necessary, such as a paternity or divorce case. A paternity or divorce case can address issues like custody of the children, child support and visitation. An attorney familiar with domestic violence cases can seek judgments to restrict the abuser’s contact with the victim, require supervision for visitation, and ensure that the victim is empowered to make decisions for herself and her family.
When a victim of domestic violence seeks to escape an abusive relationship, it is important that she has an attorney that appreciates the risks posed by domestic. At Holtzhouser, Shaner & Cha, Ltd., we know that cases involving domestic violence require special consideration and we fight for safe, long-term solutions.