Domestic violence is an unfortunate reality that many people experience. In Illinois, Orders of Protection are designed to try to help victims of domestic violence escape their abusers and prevent any further abuse from occurring. An Order of Protection is a Court Order that restrains someone from harassing, abusing, stalking, intimidating, and/or interfering with the personal liberty of the domestic violence victim. An Order of Protection may also require the abuser to refrain from contacting you, require the abuser to stay away from your home, job, and school, and refrain the abuser from interfering with your property. In Illinois, orders of protection are entered pursuant to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986.
The Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 defines “domestic violence” as “abuse. . .” The Act defines “abuse” as “physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation but does not include reasonable direction of a minor child by a parent or person in loco parentis.” The Act defines “harassment” as “knowing conduct which is not necessary to accomplish a purpose that is reasonable under the circumstances; would cause a reasonable person emotional distress; and does cause emotional distress to the petitioner” (victim of the abuse). The Act defines “intimidation of a dependent” as “subjecting a person who is dependent because of age, health or disability to participation in or the witnessing of: physical force against another or physical confinement or restraint of another which constitutes physical abuse as defined in this Act, regardless of whether the abused person is a family or household member.” Finally, the Act defines “interference with personal liberty” as “committing or threatening physical abuse, harassment, intimidation or willful deprivation so as to compel another to engage in conduct from which she or he has a right to abstain or to refrain from conduct in which she or he has a right to engage.” Although it seems clinical and insensitive to talk about domestic violence in these terms, it is important to know how the law defines these terms in order to properly request an order of protection.
Some people may think that you must be married to your abuser or have some other kind of relation in order to obtain an order of protection. However, you do not have to be married or related to your abuser in order to seek an order of protection. Rather, in order to obtain an order of protection, you must be a "family or household member" of the abuser. This may cause some people to think that you must be either related to, or live with, the abuser in order to get an order of protection. However, the term "family or household member" is misleading because the Act defines "family or household members" to include "spouses, former spouses, parents, children, stepchildren and other persons related by blood or by present or prior marriage, persons who share or formerly shared a common dwelling, persons who have or allegedly have a child in common, persons who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child, persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship, persons with disabilities and their personal assistants, and caregivers as defined in Section 12-4.4a of the Criminal Code of 2012." Therefore, the Act allows people who may not be related by blood or marriage and do not reside with an abuser to file for an order of protection, such as former spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, or persons who have a child together. Provided you are a "family or household member" of the abuser as defined by the Act, you may ask the court to protect yourself, any minor children in your care, any dependent adult in your care, and even any employees and/or residents of a private home or shelter if you are staying at the private home or shelter at the time you file a petition for the order of protection.
Your safety and the safety of any children or dependent adults in your care is of the utmost importance. If you feel you need an order of protection, contact your local police station, local courthouse, or an attorney for help. Here are some helpful phone numbers for the various Counties in Illinois:
Cook County – Domestic Violence Division – 312-325-9000 or 312-325-9017
DuPage County – Psychological Services Partner Abuse Intervention Program (PAIP) – 630-407-6400
Kane County – Community Crisis Center of Elgin – 847-697-2380
Kankakee County – State's Attorney's Domestic Violence Division – 815-936-5800
Lake County – State's Attorney's Office – 847-377-3000
Will County – Groundwork Domestic Violence Program – 815-729-1228