Emotions often run high during a divorce, and the first year of separation can be particularly difficult and dangerous for estranged spouses who have been the victims of domestic violence and abuse. This is the period when decisions are made about important matters like child custody and visitation, and the lingering effects of family violence can have a profound impact on how abused victims approach these issues according to research from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois.
Leaving an abusive relationship can be very difficult for many Illinois women. Pressure to stay with an abuser often arises from a person's lack of income, homelessness and no access to health care. Among immigrants, especially individuals without documentation to be in the country, barriers to action include fear of deportation, poor English language skills and little understanding of legal rights.
In many parts of Illinois, domestic violence remains a problem. Alton police, for example, have responded to more than 500 reports of domestic violence in 2017 alone. In Madison County, it is estimated that about 1,400 emergency orders of protection were filed, coming out to an average of five each and every day. To combat incidents of domestic violence, the Alton Police Chief and his wife started the annual Domestic Violence Awareness Walk.
According to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there were 61 deaths related to domestic violence in the state in 2017. That is an increase from 49 such deaths in 2016. While the exact reason why the number went up is unclear, it may be related to the fact that the group didn't have a budget for two years. Other domestic violence agencies in the state were also forced to cut services or close entirely.
Illinois residents or others who go through a natural disaster may experience emotional trauma. They may also experience physical injury or stress that comes from not having access to food, water or basic services. These factors may increase the likelihood of domestic violence in the aftermath of a storm like Hurricane Harvey. Therefore, those who study the issue say that domestic violence services should be part of an overall disaster recovery plan.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, domestic violence is a leading health concern. However, Illinois residents may not necessarily know what domestic violence looks or feels like. This may stop victims from reporting abuse or prevent friends and family members of an abuse victim from seeking help on that person's behalf. The definition of domestic abuse is abusive behavior used by a person to gain control over a partner.