Information for Help with Domestic Violence
This article, I Need Help with Domestic Violence During the Pandemic, was written by Marj Askins and Liz Ptacek. It was originally published on Illinois Legal Aid Online. Republished with permission.
If you are experiencing domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic, there is help.
You can still ask for an Order of Protection from a judge. Even though many courts are closed for certain cases, they are allowing some cases. This includes Orders of Protection.
An Order of Protection requires the abusive person to stop doing things like physically hurting you or harassing you. The order can prevent the abusive person from contacting you at all. If you live together, the order can force the person to move out.
In this article we will review how the courts can help you. But court is not always the only or best option. You are the one who will know best what sort of plan will make you the most safe.
Before taking action, call the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline (877) 863-6338. It is multilingual, confidential, and available 24/7. You can also call your local Domestic Violence agency. These organizations can help you understand your options. They can also tell you what to expect if you decide to go to court.
Asking for an Order of Protection during the pandemic
To get an Order of Protection, you must file court papers and talk to a judge. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), many courthouses are not hearing some cases. But you can still get an Order of Protection, no matter where you are in the state.
Cook County has a Domestic Violence Courthouse at 555 W. Harrison in Chicago. You can still show up in person to ask for an Order of Protection. You must wear a mask. There is no child care on site currently.
From inside the courthouse, you can get help over the phone from an advocate by calling (708) 689-3422 or from a Legal Aid Chicago attorney by calling (312) 229-6020. These people can help you fill out your court papers. Your hearing will most likely take place through a video program in the courthouse.
If you live in Cook County and do not wish to go to the courthouse, you can still get help from an advocate by calling (708) 689-3422 or contact Ascend Justice at 312-239-0413 Monday-Friday, from 8:30 am to 5 pm to get help from an attorney. Attorneys can help you fill out your court papers over the phone. They can help you work with the court to do a video hearing with a judge.
Illinois—outside Cook County
Outside Cook County, different courts have different policies due to the pandemic. However, they must allow you into the building during normal hours for an Order of Protection case. Explain clearly to the person who comes to the door that you are there for an Order of Protection case. Bring paperwork with you if it is an existing case.
You must wear a mask when you go. You must go to the courthouse where Orders of Protection are normally handled. Call your Circuit Clerk to find out where this is.
Prairie State Legal Services serves the northern half of Illinois outside of Cook County. They have a legal advice hotline for domestic violence issues. Call (844) 388-7757 Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 9 am to 1 pm, and Wednesdays 6 pm to 8 pm. Outside of those hours, call the general legal advice line at (800) 531-7057.
And remember, no matter where you are in Illinois, the statewide hotline is available 24/7 at (877) 863-6338.
Calling the police
Call 911 and ask for assistance if you feel like you are in immediate danger.
If you act quickly, the police can make an arrest and charge the abusive person with a crime.
If the police arrive after the abusive person left the location, you can ask the police for a police report. Then call your local States Attorney to tell them you want to press charges. In Cook County, call the Victim Witness Unit at (773) 674-7200.
If you don’t immediately call the police, you can still call their non-emergency number. In Chicago, this is 311. Ask for a police report about a domestic violence incident.
The information provided here does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only.