domestic violence

National Domestic Violence Hotline -

People who experience domestic violence can be especially at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Survivors could be forced to into quarantine with an abuser.


But domestic violence services are still available across the state. 


Supporting Survivors Through Days Of Plenty And Want

Oct 21, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

This story includes themes of domestic and sexual violence. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline if you need help at 1-800-799-7233. 


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the need for helping hands is brought to the forefront. And for some organizations, a shortage of resources led them to look for new solutions. 



Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Rockford-area leaders recognize domestic violence and human trafficking as some of the biggest problems in the community. Now the tool they’ve been working on to tackle those issues is closer to becoming a reality.


Rockford is working to set up a one-stop shop for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.

In 2016, Rockford was ranked second highest in the state for human trafficking, and domestic violence currently makes up about 30% of the city's violent crime.

Sarah Jesmer


Robert "R." Kelly was indicted recently on ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four women. Kelly maintains his innocence.


Abuse allegations made against Kelly came from black women and go back decades. Chicago activist Anthony Clark organized protests once a documentary brought stories to light earlier this year. Clark said charges are long overdue.

"Why did it take this long? Are black women and girls, are brown women and girls not worth anything?" Clark said.


Flickr user Tony Alter / "Nice Heels" (CC v 2.0)

About 100 people are expected to participate in this year’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event Saturday in DeKalb. About a quarter of that number will be men walking that mile in high heels.

Registration is up from last year’s event. That’s according to Kendal Baker – she is a spokeswoman for Safe Passage, which is a domestic violence agency and rape crisis center in DeKalb County.

Baker says the main purpose of the nationwide event is to continue to bring awareness to sexual assault and domestic violence, especially since this month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Survivors of domestic violence who want to change their name might get additional protections under a new Illinois proposal. 

Current law says a name change must be published in a local newspaper, but the new measure would allow someone to submit a waiver and keep the change away from public records. 

Sara Ghadiri, a Chicago attorney who does pro bono work assisting survivors of domestic violence, says there are many instances where survivors don’t feel safe even after leaving an abusive relationship.  

Flickr user Growinnc / "Practice makes perfect! #hairdo#school#perm#cosmetology" (CC V. 2.0)

Saturday is the last day for cosmetology professionals and teachers in Illinois to renew their licenses before the next cycle.

Renewal requirements include certain continuing education, but domestic violence training is not yet on the list. Those requirements start next year, but they still haven’t been explicitly outlined. 

Mary Ellen Schaid directs Safe Passage in DeKalb. She says the group already gave presentations to several local schools and salons on what to do if a client confides in them about domestic violence.

A recent murder in Sycamore is bringing attention on domestic violence within the community.

37-year-old Lidia Juarez of DeKalb was found dead in her car outside the Illinois Department of Human Services, where she worked. Her estranged husband -- and a suspect in her death -- was killed in a shootout with police Friday afternoon.

DeKalb County records show Antonio Juarez violated an order of protection earlier this year.

State of Illinois

Illinois has entered its 22nd month without a real budget. Among the state services most affected by the political fight are those that help victims of domestic violence.

Illinois doesn’t spend a lot of money fighting domestic violence — it’s way less than a tenth of a percent of the state budget. But since last summer, it’s spent nothing.

Vickie Smith represents 62 providers across Illinois. She says some groups have laid people off; others are about to.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

All 11 Democratic congressmen from Illinois have signed a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner demanding that he restore funding to domestic violence shelters.

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Rock Island, initiated the letter, which was sent Friday, after an Associated Press report showed that funding for a domestic-violence program was omitted from a temporary budget last summer.

The Department of Human Services waited nearly six months to alert providers.

Bustos is serving her third term in the U.S House and is considering opposing Rauner for governor in 2018.

"Window" By Flickr User Sam Howzit / (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois officials waited more than five months to alert dozens of domestic violence programs that their funding had been eliminated, an omission that forced layoffs and other cuts.

Officials providing services to victims of domestic violence tell The Associated Press they were unaware that about $9 million in state funding was left out of the stopgap plan that expired in December. They learned about it in a Dec. 16 letter from Human Services Secretary James Dimas.  

"Behind the Scenes..." by Flickr User Mainstream / (CC X 2.0)

An Illinois law that takes effect Sunday aims to take advantage of the trusted relationship between hairstylists and their clients to prevent domestic violence.

The law requires one hour of abuse-prevention training for almost 92,000 Illinois stylists, barbers, cosmetologists, estheticians, hair braiders and nail technicians. The National Conference of State Legislatures says the measure appears to be the first of its kind in the country.

The anti-domestic violence nonprofit Chicago Says No More pushed for the law and worked with the industry on its language.

"Window" By Flickr User Sam Howzit / (CC BY 2.0)

Those who work for Illinois organizations that provide services to survivors of domestic violence say the fact there’s no funding for them in the state’s soon-to-expire spending plan was an unfortunate surprise.


The stopgap budget doesn’t have a line item for domestic violence programs, but directors say they thought they would be paid out of the Department of Human Services' budget.


Candlelight Sparks Domestic Violence Vigil In DeKalb

Oct 4, 2016
Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Survivors gathered for an annual vigil this week at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeKalb.

The event was hosted by Safe Passage, a group that provides services like crisis intervention and housing options to victims.

Margaret Thacker is a domestic violence survivor. She says she’s come a long way since being picked up by a police officer years ago in Ohio.

Thacker shared her story because she wanted to send a message of encouragement.


FBI data shows Illinois has recorded 38 gun-related domestic violence homicides since 2006, but the number is likely higher because the data are incomplete.  

Only the Chicago and Rockford police departments report firearm-related domestic violence homicides to the FBI.  The Illinois State Police says the relationship of a homicide victim to the offender is considered supplementary data that is not required to be reported.

A researcher at University of Illinois at Chicago was named to the NFL's domestic violence panel.

Beth Richie teaches African-American studies, criminology, law and women's studies. She is joining a panel of experts that includes a former New York attorney general and leaders of numerous anti-violence groups.

Officials say Richie studies the ways that race, ethnicity and social position affect women's experience of violence and incarceration.

The football league formed the panel after players were involved in domestic violence or child abuse incidents.