Domestic Violence Cases on the Rise


ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The deaths of two Stateline women, allegedly abused by their boyfriends, have phones at local shelters ringing off the hook.

"This is someone cutting off your air supply or your blood supply, and without those, you cease to exist," Karen Gill, Vice President of Operations for Remedies Renewing Lives, said.

That's the fear Gill has for every victim of domestic violence who walks through the doors of remedies renewing lives. She says nearly every victim of abuse has been strangled.

Now Gill has a new tool at her fingertips to check in on where those abusers are in the court process. That real-time electronic court file was paid for through a grant to the Domestic Violence Court.

"If they were there at one o'clock on Monday for a group, probably by three o'clock that’s in their electronic court file. If they show up in court later that day the judge can pull it up, the probation officer can pull it up," Gill explained.

The specialized courtroom was created two years ago because there are so many cases of domestic violence in Boone and Winnebago counties, and the numbers keep going up.

"Unless you solve that cycle you have that same repeated behavior, that same repeated behavior and that's what we're trying to do is break that cycle," Rockford Police Deputy Chief Dave Hopkins, said.

Chief Judge Joe McGraw says having specific judges dedicated to that courtroom is critical in protecting those victims.

"If you don't have continuity of court personnel, specifically the judges and allegation might sound unreasonable or unfounded, but if you know the broader relationship of the parties then you're able to evaluate how serious that allegation may actually be," Judge McGraw, said.

Domestic Violence court includes civil and criminal sides. There are three judges who work in those courtrooms and are trained to handle domestic violence cases.

Rockford Police say last month there were 418 calls for domestic situations. That's a 10 percent increase from the month before. Officers say they make an arrest in about 20 percent of those cases.


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