Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence involves any pattern of abusive behavior in which one person seeks to gain or maintain control over their intimate partner or other immediate family member, such as the couple’s child(ren). Domestic violence can include physical abuse, including hitting, shoving, kicking, and sexual violence. Beyond physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence can include emotional and financial abuse. Emotional abuse may include constantly yelling at or berating a partner, threatening physical violence, and preventing loved ones from maintaining supportive relationships with other people. Financial abuse may include monitoring a partner’s spending habits or controlling their access to money, bank accounts, or credit cards.

What is an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection, or OP, is a court order that protects its holder (the “Petitioner”) by ordering their abuser (the “Respondent”) to stop certain behaviors. You may have heard this referred to as a restraining order. An OP can order an abuser to physically stay away from the Petitioner, to stop contacting them by any means, and/or to stop harassing behaviors. An OP often starts off as an emergency order, or EOP. An EOP is a short-term solution to protect you from an abuser. Due to fear of immediate or imminent harm, the EOP hearings are conducted “ex-parte,” which means that the Respondent does not have to be notified. A judge may grant an EOP for a period of 14-21 days, which will give the Petitioner time to follow the court process to obtain a Plenary Order of Protection (POP). A POP can extend the protections of the initial order for up to two years.


How do I know if it is time to get help?

If you feel afraid of your partner due to patterns of behavior such as those described above, please seek help. If you fear that your partner may physically harm you, your child(ren), or pet, seek help. You have a right to feel safe in your home, and any time a partner’s behavior makes you feel intensely fearful, you have a valid reason to ask for support and help.

How can I get help?

If you already have a relationship with a mental health professional such as a psychologist, social worker, or therapist, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. They will be able to support you emotionally and help you formulate a concrete plan for your next steps. You may also wish to consult legal services from a domestic violence attorney or family lawyer with experience in domestic violence cases to help you and your child(ren) achieve safety and independence. If you are not ready to contact an attorney but need immediate help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline today. 

Domestic Violence Resources

If you do not already know a therapist or counselor, or you simply feel overwhelmed about where to begin, you can seek assistance at these national and Chicagoland-specific organizations:

You can also call the City of Chicago’s Domestic Violence Hotline 24 hours per day at 1-877-863-6338.

The Long and Short of It

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