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Four Remedies Against Domestic Violence

As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we continue our focus on the subject of domestic violence with a look at the four remedies against domestic violence available under Illinois law. Victims of domestic violence need the support of friends, family, churches and the community, but they also have legal remedies available to use against domestic violence.

When a person takes a step against abuse, that person begins to change from a victim to an overcomer. Aside from seeking help and support, people can seek legal remedies that are available to combat domestic violence.

Four remedies exist in the law to address domestic violence. The most powerful and most important is the Order of Protection. Other remedies include a Mutual Restraining Order, a Civil No Contact Order and a Stalking No Contact Order. Each remedy fits a different circumstance.

Some definition of what constitutes domestic violence is helpful first. Domestic violence is broadly defined in Illinois. It includes physical abuse, including sexual abuse; physical force, confinement or restraint; purposeful, repeated and unnecessary sleep deprivation; and behavior that creates an immediate risk of physical harm.

Domestic violence also includes harassment, defined as “unnecessary conduct which causes you emotional distress”: including disturbances at work or school; repeatedly telephoning work or school; repeatedly following you in public places; repeatedly keeping you under surveillance; threatening physical force, confinement or restraint on multiple occasions; hiding your children or threatening to hide them (unless fleeing domestic abuse).

In addition, domestic violence includes intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty and willful deprivation of medication, medical care, shelter, food or other assistance of an elderly or disabled person.

The most often used remedy to address domestic violence is Order of Protection (OOP. An OOP provides protection from family members, household members and a few other people who have a relationship or living arrangement with the person seeking the OOP. OOP’s can be sought on an emergency basis without notice when harm is likely to occur if notice is given. When there is no imminent threat of harm, notice must be given.

OOP’s can be sought on one’s own, through private attorneys or through the local State’s Attorney’s office in Illinois. Most counties handle OOP’s on a “walk-up” basis, meaning that a person can show up in court unannounced and see a judge  and/or meet with an assistant State’s Attorney or Victims Advocacy group representative. The local circuit court clerk’s office should have information regarding the mechanisms available in your county.

Often we see cross petitions for Orders of Protection. Real life is not always black and white. Sometimes relationships are violent with the violence being reciprocal. Sometimes, one person files for an OOP, maybe to get to the court room first as a kind of defensive ploy. In circumstances in which there is no clear perpetrator and victim, when the relationship is simply toxic, a Mutual Restraining Order may be the best remedy. Mutual Restraining Orders can also be used to resolve a disputed OOP. The important thing is to get an order entered, regardless of the proof or who is most at fault.

Since an OOP requires some familial or living arrangement, other remedies are necessary. A Civil No Contact Order is available for victims of sexual assault and unwanted sexual contact. This remedy is available regardless of whether any relationship or living arrangement exists. It protects not only the victims, but also their family and household members, as well as employees and volunteers of rape crisis centers. These orders are also available on an emergency basis.

Finally, a No Stalking Contact Order is also available for victims who do not fit into the other protected classes. Stalking is defined as following or surveillance of someone, making unwanted contact or vandalizing property or harming a pet such that the person knows or should know that the actions would cause a reasonable person to feel fear or emotional distress. A No Stalking Order is only available when an Order of Protection is not applicable.

The remedies available for domestic violence cover most, if not all, the situations in which a person may be victimized by harassment, abuse and other forms of domestic violence. The important thing to know and understand is that there are remedies available. Although it is easier said than felt, no one needs to feel alone or without hope when it comes to domestic violence. There is an out. Contact a local attorney, victim support group, church, counselor or the State’s Attorney’s office and seek help if you or someone you know is struggling as a victim of domestic violence. Help is available.

Mark D. Brent
Drendel & Jansons Law Group
111 Flinn Street |2000 W. Galena Blvd.
Batavia, IL 60510 | Aurora, IL 60506
630-523-0543 | 630-517-5130
[email protected]