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Abuse survivors in Illinois can file orders of protection online

The law goes into effect after the first of the year.
Published: May. 31, 2022 at 4:39 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse will soon have a safer and easier way to file an order of protection against their abuser.

During the pandemic, survivors of abuse had the option to file an order of protection against their abuser virtually, now with help from state Senator Steve Stadelman, that option becomes permanent in Illinois.

The law gives survivors the ability to file from the comfort of their own home, rather than possibly confronting their abuser at the court house.

“If the victim has to go to the court house, here are some of the problems, the one who’s accused knows where that person has to go and there have been stories unfortunately across the country of a victim having to confront their abuser in the parking lot or wherever,” Stadelman said.

Stadelman says survivors face immense fear and pressure when making the decision to file. That’s why he worked with Rockford city leaders to make sure this new law benefits not just Illinois residents but people right here in the Rockford community.

“I think we kind of found out the past couple years, this is a really good thing, this has worked well for the victims, it’s made their task easier of trying to get help and so we’re just trying to codify that into state law, this is good practice, it’s helped a lot of women and men as well so let’s make it state law and so we can help everybody,” Stadelman said.

Rockford Domestic and Community Violence Prevention executive director, Jennifer Cacciapaglia says streamlining the process could give survivors a glimmer of hope in the process.

“They know that they will very likely encounter their abuser and then be in a court room where they are feet away from that abuser, at best it’s intimidating and at worst it’s dangerous because that abuser knows that they are in that building, they probably know the exits that they have to take to get back to their vehicle,” Cacciapaglia said.

Even though anyone can file online right now because of the pandemic, this law won’t go into effect in Illinois until January 1, 2023.

Anyone looking to file an order of protection virtually can do so on their county’s website.

“To have an option to obtain these orders remotely and have a hearing outside of the court house is just remarkable, we’re ahead of the game here in Winnebago County because our amazing team members and collaborators at the domestic violence coordinated courts, but the idea that this could become something state-wide is just such an impactful moment,” Cacciapaglia said.

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