October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Unfortunately, this type of violence is prevalent for a variety of reasons, including mental illness or drug/alcohol addiction. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, every minute, an average of 24 people are victims of physical violence, sexual assault, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. Abuse can destroy the trust in a marriage, ultimately leading to one of the partners filing for a divorce. However, it can be very intimidating to take that first step if a person is afraid of their spouse’s reaction to ending their marriage. If someone is a victim of abuse, it is imperative to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney throughout the divorce process.
How Is Domestic Violence Defined?
Domestic violence is also referred to as domestic abuse, intimate partner violence (IPV), or relationship abuse. It is defined as a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. This is typically between spouses or dating partners, but it can also include violence between parents, children, or other relatives. Domestic violence does not discriminate based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion. Anyone can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. It affects people of all financial backgrounds and educational levels.
Create a Safety Plan
There are certain steps a victim of domestic abuse can take to plan ahead to help ensure his or her safety and protect any children who are involved. The National Domestic Violence Hotline gives tips on creating a “safety plan” to leave an abusive relationship or marriage in an emergency situation. The following actions should be included in this plan:
Write down a checklist of important documents you need to take with you (birth certificates, driver’s license, medications, credit cards).
Pack a bag of essential items (clothing, toiletries) and keep it at a family member or friend’s house.
Practice leaving the marital home with a safe destination in mind.
Designate a code word that alerts family or friends you are in danger.
Memorize important phone numbers in case you cannot access them via your phone or address book.
Tell your coworkers about your situation and have them escort you to and from your car at your place of business.
Obtain an order of protection against your spouse if you feel like you are in danger.
What Can Orders of Protection Do?
According to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, an order of protection is a court order that can protect family or household members from the actions of another. Commonly known as a “restraining order,” these protective orders are requested by the “petitioner” and entered against the “respondent.” They can restrict what the alleged abuser can or cannot do. For example, the respondent may not be allowed to have any contact with the petitioner, and he or she may be ordered to stay a certain distance from anyone named in the order. Protections such as these are meant to prevent further abuse, and they may be necessary during divorce proceedings if the abusive spouse is contesting the divorce. If an order is violated, it can result in misdemeanor or felony charges, and the perpetrator may face jail time and/or fines.
Contact an Oak Park Divorce Lawyer
Domestic violence is a real problem that can have deadly consequences in extreme cases. One spouse may be afraid to leave an unhealthy marriage because he or she has been abused by the other spouse. If you or someone you know are contemplating getting a divorce because of a toxic relationship, a compassionate Cook County orders of protection attorney can assist you during your divorce proceedings to make sure your safety and well-being are a priority. Call Wakenight & Associates, P.C. today at 708-480-9651 to schedule a free consultation.