Close up of man fist. Scared injured woman face on background.

Unfortunately, many Illinois families are affected by domestic violence every year. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported over 100,000 domestic violence cases in the state of Illinois in 2006. A spouse, common-law spouse or ex-spouse committed more than half of those crimes. A Chicago family law attorney knows that domestic violence is a disturbing trend that can result in pain and heartache for families.

In 1986, the state legislature passed the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA) in a response to the societal issue of domestic violence, recognizing the problem as a serious crime that has implications both to families and to society as a whole. The addition of more recent rulings by the Supreme Court provides further protection for victims and their families with the help of court orders and law enforcement.

What is considered abuse?

According to the IDVA, domestic violence can be defined as a wide range of harmful acts, including the following:

  • Physical abuse, such as pushing or hitting
  • Harassment
  • Intimidation
  • Willful deprivation
  • Forced sex
  • Interference with personal liberty

The law requires that law enforcement take steps to protect any victim of these kinds of abuse in an attempt to prevent arm and end the cycle of abuse.

Who is protected under the IDVA?

The IDVA offers protection for victims who are related to an abuser in several different ways. According to the law, household or family members who are protected include spouses, ex-spouses, children, stepchildren, those who share a common dwelling, those who have or have had a dating relationship and anyone related through blood or by a current or prior marriage. A Chicago family law attorney understands that disabled adults are often easy targets for abuse, and the IDVA provide special provisions for such cases.

Obtaining an order of protection

Domestic violence victims can obtain a court order that protects them from the abuser by outlining prohibitions designed to relieve victims from abusive behavior. A domestic order of protection can be obtained either through a civil court, criminal court or juvenile court. An order may grant ownership of a residence to the victim or may prevent the abuser from possessing firearms. The violation of an order could result in up to 364 days in jail.

Where to find help

Illinois offers support for victims of domestic violence through its Domestic Violence Victim Services. Programs are located throughout the state and are offered free of charge for anyone in need of assistance.

A victim of domestic violence may benefit from speaking with a Chicago family law attorney to find out what legal protections may be available.