Domestic Violence Awareness Report

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In 2006, the City of Chicago recorded 204,729 domestic violence service calls, an average of 561 calls per day, according to a recently published study.

The study, called “Assessment of the Current Response to Domestic Violence in Chicago,” was complied by Mayor Richard Daley’s Office on Domestic Violence (MODV). While the study notes that last year’s numbers are the lowest recorded since 1982, it says “the rate of domestic violence remains high.”

“Domestic violence is not just a criminal justice or social service issue,” Leslie Landis, Executive Director of MODV, said in a press release about the data. “It is a community concern and many committed people are taking an active role in addressing it.”

Domestic violence is violence against any family member, from brothers and sisters to in-laws and aunts, according to Officer C. Childs, domestic violence officer for the Chicago Police Department’s 9th District at 35th Street and Lowe Avenue.

It’s not just about a man and his wife or girlfriend. Domestic violence can occur between same-sex partners, or it can be the man in the relationship being abused by his wife or girlfriend. Domestic violence is not only physical either. It can involve isolation, financial abuse, mental abuse, or any combination of these where the victim is helpless.

The laws have changed from when the police would send a domestic violence offender to take a walk and “cool off,” Childs explained.

Now, if the police are called for a domestic violence offense and they see a physical mark on the victim, they have to make an arrest. An offender can also be arrested if he says he’s going to hit or kill someone in his family. But offenders can’t be arrested for mental abuse or isolation or the other forms of domestic violence.

“Even if the police don’t see a mark if the victim says she was hit and she wants the offender arrested, a complaint will be signed and he will be arrested to stand before a judge, usually within 12 to 36 hours, where he will receive a court date,” Childs said.

If it is the offender’s first domestic violence offense, Childs said it is considered a misdemeanor, with potential jail time of anywhere from one day to one year.

If he has multiple offenses, or if he violates an Order of Protection, felony charges can be brought against him.

If the offense involves hurting a child, the State’s Attorney’s Office and Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) gets involved.

Childs said, “Sadly, over the thousands of cases I have seen, maybe only about 25 percent of [victims] go through with the whole proceedings of having [the offenders] do time.” Many times, the victim decides to drop the charges, and if she does not show up on the court date, the offender will go home, he said.

In those cases the victim has to decide she wants to seek help or counseling from some of the agencies that can help her, Childs added.

Childs also said all 25 Chicago Police Department districts have domestic violence officers.

Yvonne Shorter, a domestic violence awareness volunteer at the 9th District, told Residents’ Journal, “We need to reach the teenagers because some of the girls are being abused and they think it’s all right.”

“There are so many people who are being abused and they keep it to themselves. Their families don’t even know,” she said.

Shorter went on to say literature and information from the police district’s resource fairs has helped people become aware of resources available to combat domestic violence, including the offenders.

“One lady’s husband went to jail for a few months because of the abuse, and he agreed to go to anger management classes. He found out he was really angry,” she said. “Not being able to work, not having enough finances, he took it out on the person he loved.”

Domestic violence hot line numbers you can call other than your local police stations are also available. The city’s domestic violence number is 1-877-863-6338. The mayor’s office also has staff who assist victims, and they can be reached by calling 312-747-9972.

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