Domestic violence continues to be a big problem in our society. Despite campaigns to draw awareness to the issue, Illinois residents are still often victims -- or perpetrators -- of violence at the hands of family members. The legal issues surrounding domestic abuse can be complicated and serious, owing mostly to the fact that authorities generally err on the side of caution when it comes to these kinds of cases.
Tougher domestic violence laws are slated to take effect on Jan. 1 in Illinois. Under the new law, repeat offenders will face more serious charges than they currently do; all repeat offenses will be charged at the felony level. Four or more convictions can result in up to a 14-year prison sentence. As the state prepares to crack down on domestic violence in 2014, several county and city governments in Illinois also have local efforts underway.
October is designated as Domestic Violence Month. In order to raise awareness regarding the issue, The Women's Center in Southern Illinois participated in and organized a number of events in the state. The goal was to honor domestic violence victims, while also getting the point across that domestic abuse is not just an individual's issue as it affects the entire community. Therefore, the community needs to work together to end domestic violence.
When talking about domestic abuse, many tend to assume the victim is a woman -- either a wife or a girlfriend -- and that the abuser is a man -- either the husband or boyfriend. And while these scenarios certainly do play out, it is important to keep in mind that men can also be the victims of domestic abuse.