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Domestic Violence & Battered Women

updated 24 October 2019

by Wes Cowell

Most abuse cases of abuse do not escalate to violence.    Illinois law recognizes that


"domestic violence is a serious crime against the individual and society which produces family disharmony in thousands of Illinois families, promotes a pattern of escalating violence which frequently culminates in intra-family homicide, and creates an emotional atmosphere that is not conducive to healthy childhood development."

Illinois law (750 ILCS 60/102) is designed to "support the efforts of law enforcement officers to provide immediate, effective assistance and protection for victims of domestic violence, [and] expand the civil and criminal remedies for victims of domestic violence; including, when necessary, the remedies which effect physical separation of the parties to prevent further abuse."

Basics:  In Iillinois, violence is one form of abuse.  Illinois also recognizes emotional and verbal abuse as well as harassment.  If you are in an abusive relationship, there is plenty of help available.  You can call our office to start. 


Emergency Contacts:
Here some phone numbers for emergency services in cases of domestic violence:


Cook County State’s Attorney’s Victim Witness Assistance Program 773-869-7200

Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office

Domestic Violence Resource Center 312-341-2999

Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline 888-293-2080

Cook County State’s Attorney’s Domestic Violence Division 312-341-2866

Cook County State’s Attorney’s Victim-Witness Assistance Program 312-341-2763

Cook County Circuit Court Clerk’s Domestic Violence Liaison 312-827-2452

Illinois Atorney Generals Financial Assistance for Victims 800-228-3368

National Center for Victims of Crime 800-394-2255

National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233

National Organization for Victim Assistance 800-879-6682

Chicago Domestic Violence Help Line 877-863-6338

Constance Morris House – West (Shelter Services) 708-485-0069

Crisis Center for South Suburbia (Shelter Services) 708-429-7233

Evanston Shelter for Battered Women and Children (shelter Services) 847-864-8780

Life Span – North 847-824-4454

Sarah’s Inn – West 708-386-4225

South Suburban Family Shelter, Inc. 877-335-3020


Do's and Don'ts:  If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are.  Use a safe computer go to a library, a friend's house, or an internet café.


Cell phones can be easily monitored.  Consider getting a second phone to ensure confidentiality.


Have an Emergency Safety Plan:  Talk with people you trust such as friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Let them know what is happening and talk about ways they might be able to help.


Consider what you might do to increase safety during an argument or if you can tell abuse is coming.  For example, some rooms in your home may be safer than others.  Some survivors try to move away from the kitchen because it has knives and other many sharp objects.  Some survivors try to stay close to a door, so they may run if they needed to.  


It's common for abusers to confiscate cell phones.  So, memorize the numbers you might need to use in an emergency: a friend’s or family member’s number,and the local hotline. 


Plan how you will escape if necessary.  If you live in an apartment building, make sure you know all the ways out of the building.  Consider what routes you could take to get to transportation, and where you could go to get to safety.  Plan  to get to a local police station, fire department, hospital emergency room, or 24-hour store.  


Consider talking with your children about safety. Some survivors teach their children how to call 911, or talk with them about a neighbor’s home or place in the community that may be a safe place to go in an emergency.   


Pack"Go Bag:"  You may want to put together a bag that includes money, copies of house and car keys, medicine, and copies of important papers such as birth certificates, social security cards, immigration documents, court orders, and health insurance information.  Pack extra clothes, important phone numbers, or other things you might need if you had to leave your home in a hurry.  Keep you "go bag" out of the house -- maybe at work or, better, with a trusted friend.


Make a plan for times when you are at work.  You may want to speak with your employer about changing work locations or hours, or alerting security or reception staff to your situation.


Exclusive Possession of the Home:  One of the things a court can do is to award the abused spouse the exclusive use of the home.  The abusive spouse if forced to move out the same day.  If the abusive spouse ever returns to the home, simply call the police and the abuser goes to jail for violating the Order.  There has to be a balancing test, however.  That means that the court must be given evidence of the immediate danger of future abuse and the hardship to the Respondent of being dispossessed of the residence.  The court must balance those two factors.  If evidence is lacking, any issued Order of Protection is erroneous and should be reversed on appeal.  In re:  Marriage of Creaser, 342 Ill.App.3d 215, 794 N.E.2d 990 (2d Dist., 2003).


When the Defendant "Takes the Fifth:"  The constitutions of the United States, and of Illinois allow individuals the right to not be forced to give testimony against themselves.  Even in civil cases, defendants can refuse to answer questions if the answer may lead to incriminating information.  When a defendant stands silent in a criminal case, the court is not allowed to infer anything from the refusal to answer.  In a civil case, however, the court is allowed to draw a negative inference from the defendant’s silence.  


Without additional evidence, however, a court hearing a civil case may not issue an Order of Protection against a defendant exercising his or her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.  That is, an Order of Protection may not be issued based solely on the negative inference drawn from the defendant’s refusal to testify.  People v. Houar, 365 Ill. App. 3d 682, 850 N.E.2d 327,  (2d Dist., 2006).  “A Fifth Amendment invocation cannot, on its own, constitute the basis of a guilty finding.”  In Houar, the child returned from a visit with the father showing a welt on her leg that was not present when she left for the visitation.  The mother’s Emergency Petitioner for an Order of Protection alleged that the father hit the daughter on the leg with a plastic stick.  The Order of Protection was granted.  At the re-hearing, the mother testified about how she noticed the welt when her daughter returned from visitation and also that the daughter was shaking, crying and upset.  The daughter did not testify.  The father stood silent, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.  The Order of Protection was extended based on the negative inference drawn from the father’s silence but, on appeal, was dismissed for lack of evidence.


When a divorce case is going on and a criminal charge of domestic violence is brought against one party, you should be sure to work with an attorney who is familiar with both court systems and can prepare you and coordinate efforts in each case.  A criminal defendant may want to delay the divorce case so as to preserve his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent at the criminal trial.  10-Dix Bldg. Corp. v. McDannel, 480 N.E.2d 1212, 134 Ill.App.3d 664, 89 Ill.Dec. 469 (1 Dist., 1985)  Otherwise, the defendant may be forced to testify in the divorce case and that testimony may later be used in the criminal case.  


Reasonable Discipline of a Child: Sometimes a parent's reasonable discipline of a child will be used by the other parent -- or even the child -- in an attempt to obtain an Order of Protection.  The real intent, of course, is to alter custody or visitation using the criminal court's Order of Protection as a tool where such efforts have, or likely would, fail before the family law judge.  In In re: Marrige of Radke, 349 Ill.App.3d 264, 812 N.E.2d 9 (3d Dist., 2004) the daughter, during a visitation period at the father's house, screamed at and cursed the father and even kicked him in the groin.  The father grabbed her by the arms and pushed her into her room and denied her use of the telephone.  The mother and daughter argued that denial of the telephone -- so the daughter could call the mother or the police -- amounted to "harassment."  A two year plenary Order of Protection was entered and that effectively ended visitation.  On appeal, the appellate court held that denial of the use of the telephone was reasonable discipline under the circumstances and the Order of Protection was vacated.


Police as Abusers:  Cop cases can be expecially tough on the victim.  Throughout their careers cops are trained in how to get people to do what the cop wants.  They refer to it as "verbal judo."  It can be great when employed in the line of duty.  It can be terrible when employed at home.  Worse, cops tell their spouses that if the court issues an Order of Protection the office will have to surrender his weapon and that will severely hamper his career and ability to earn a living.  Everyone will suffer.  It's an effective tactic and stifles a lot of abuse victims.  


If you're in an abusive relatinoship with a police officer, you need help. Call our office.


Criminal Domestic Violence: Illinois law (725 ILCS 5/112A-1) makes domestic violence a crime.   The law also covers the crime of "domestic battery," stalking, child abduction, telephone harassment, interference with reporting of domestic violence, violation of orders of protection.  Moreover,the Federal Violence Against Women Act criminalizes a lot of acts that come out of divorce cases.


You may wish to seek a criminal order of protection through your local State's Attorneys office, but if you have a divorce case pending, or are thinking about filing for divorce (or paternity or child support) the smarter practice is to consult with an attorney.  You will probably save money and benefit in other ways by having the same family court judge hear all of your matters rather than have two different judges hearing, essentially, the same case between the same people.  When in doubt, ask your attorney and don't eb afraid to seek relief in the civil, family-law court.






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