Illinois Domestic Violence Act:
Information for Victims

Domestic violence is a crime. Any person who hits, chokes, kicks, threatens, harasses, or interferes with the personal liberty of another family or household member has broken Illinois Domestic Violence law. Under Illinois law family or household members are defined as:

  • family members related by blood;
  • people who are married or used to be married;
  • people who share or used to share a home, apartment, or other common dwelling;
  • people who have or allegedly have child in common or a blood relationship through a child in common;
  • people who are dating or engaged or used to date, including same sex couples; and
  • people with disabilities and their personal assistants.

Orders of protection
An order of protection is a court order which restricts an abuser and only is available to family or household members. An order of protection may:

  • prohibit abuser from continuing threats and abuse (abuse includes physical abuse, harassment, intimidation, interference with personal liberty, or willful deprivation)
  • bar abuser from shared residence or bar abuser while using drugs or alcohol;
  • order abuser to stay away from you and other persons protected by the order and/or bar abuser from your work, school, or other specific locations;
  • require abuser to attend counseling;
  • prohibit abuser from hiding a child from you or taking a child out of state;
  • require abuser to appear in court or bring a child to court;
  • give you temporary physical possession of children or give you temporary legal custody;
  • specify visitation rights (if and when visitation is awarded);
  • bar abuser from accessing child’s records;
  • give you certain personal property and require abuser to turn it over, or bar abuser from damaging, destroying or selling certain personal property;
  • require abuser to pay you support for minor children living with you, require abuser to pay you for losses suffered from the abuse, require abuser to pay for your or your children’s shelter or counseling services;
  • require abuser to turn weapons over to local law enforcement, if there is danger of illegal use against you;
  • prohibit abuser from other actions; or
  • to protect you, require abuser to take other actions.

Criminal Prosecutions
If an arrest wasn’t made and you wish to seek criminal charges against your abuser, bring all relevant information, including the police report number and this form, to your local state’s attorney. It may be helpful to contact a local domestic violence program so they can help you through the system.

To obtain an Order of Protection, you can:

  • Ask your attorney to file in civil court.
  • Request an order with your divorce.
  • Request an order during a criminal trial for abuse.
  • Go to your local circuit court clerk’s office and get papers to seek an order of protection for yourself.
  • Contact a local domestic violence program to ask for assistance in completing the forms.

Law Enforcement Response
Law enforcement officers should try to prevent further abuse by:

  • arresting the abuser when appropriate and completing a police report;
  • driving you to a medical facility, shelter or safe place or arranging for transportation to a safe place;
  • taking you back home to get belongings;
  • if there is probable cause to believe that weapons were used, taking those weapons;
  • telling you about your right to an order of protection; and
  • telling you about the importance of saving evidence, such as damaged clothing or property and taking photographs of injuries or damage.

Also, law enforcement should know that the Illinois Domestic Violence Act assumes it is in the best interest of the child to remain with the you or someone you choose.

If Abuser Contacts You After an Arrest
When anyone is charged with a crime and the victim is a family or household member, that abuser is most likely prohibited from contacting the victim and from entering or remaining at the victim’s residence for a minimum of 72 hours.
So, if the abuser does contact you soon after an arrest, you should call the police because the abuser can be charged with an additional offense, violation of bail bond, which is a Class A misdemeanor.

Violation of an Order of Protection
Violating an order of protection is a Class A misdemeanor, and the abuser could go to jail for up to 364 days and pay a $25 fine. A second violation of an order of protection (or a violation after conviction of a serious crime against a family or household member) can be a felony. If an abuser commits a second violation of order of protection, courts must sentence the abuser to 24 hours jail time and order abuser to pay $100 domestic violence fine, unless the increased fine will impose an undue harm on you , the victim of the domestic violence.

Where you can get help and advice:
National Domestic Violence Hotline

Chicagoland Domestic Violence Help Line


Orders of Protection (Restraining Orders) in Illinois

An order of protection, also sometimes informally called a “restraining order,” is a court order that is intended to stop domestic violence, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, or interference with personal liberty. Men, women, and children can seek an order of protection.  The law surrounding orders or protection can be complex, so I always recommend that those seeking an order of protection – or those defending themselves against a wrongfully filed order of protection – retain an attorney.

Physical abuse is defined by Illinois law to include:

  • sexual abuse
  • physical abuse, confinement, or restraint
  • purposeful, repeated and unnecessary sleep deprivation
  • behavior which creates an immediate risk of physical harm

Harassment is defined by Illinois law to include:

  • creating a disturbance at your place of work or place of school
  • repeatedly calling your work or school
  • repeatedly following you around in a public place or places
  • repeatedly observing you by loitering outside of your home, school, work, vehicle, or looking in through your windows;
  • threatening physical abuse, confinement, or restraint
  • improperly hiding your child from you or repeatedly threatening to do so, repeatedly threatening to improperly remove your child from your physical care or from the state, or making a single one of these threats following an actual or attempted improper removal or hiding of your child

Intimidation of a dependent includes:

  • when the abuser makes you participate in, or witness, physical force, physical confinement, or restraint against any person

Interference with personal liberty includes:

  • committing or threatening to commit physical abuse, harassment, intimidation or deprivation with the intention of forcing you to do something you don’t want to do or not allowing you to do something that you have a right to do

An order of protection may be obtained against against a family or household member who has committed acts of domestic violence against the victim or their minor child.

A family or household member includes:

  • A spouse or ex-spouse
  • A boyfriend or girlfriend, or someone you date or used to date
  • A parent, stepparent or grandparent
  • A stepchild or child of yours, even if you’re not married to the child’s father or mother
  • Siblings
  • A person responsible for you if you are a high-risk or disabled adult
  • A person related to you by blood or by marriage
  • A person who you live with or have lived with in the past
  • The mother or father or your baby, even if you have never been married to them or lived with them
  • A person with whom you share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child
  • A caregiver

An abuse victim can request an Order of Protection on behalf of themselves, their minor child, an incapacitated adult, or another household member.

There are three types of Order of Protection:

Emergency Orders of Protection: An emergency order can be obtained based solely upon an abuse victim’s testimony before a judge. The alleged abuser does not need to be present. The judge must be convinced that the abuse victim is in danger, or experiencing emotional distress, or else the judge may not grant the Emergency Order of Protection.

Interim Orders of Protection: An interim order is generally used to protect an abuse victim in between the time when the emergency Order of Protection expires and the full hearing necessary before a court can enter a Plenary Order of Protection. An interim order lasts for up to 30 days.

Plenary Orders of Protection: A plenary Order of Protection can be issued only after a court hearing in which the alleged victim and alleged abuser have been afforded the opportunity to obtain lawyers and present their evidence in court. It provides the most protection and the longest-term protection. A plenary order may last up to two years.

An order of protection may require the abuser to do any of the following:

  • stop harassing, abusing, stalking, and intimidating you, and interfering with your personal liberty;
  • leave your shared residence or stay away from your shared home when he is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and is a threat to you or your children;
  • stay away from your home, work, school or any other site you specify in the order;
  • not contact you in any way (including phone, mail or through third parties);
  • give up his guns and firearm owner’s identification card to local law enforcement for up to two years;
  • give you your personal property and forbid your abuser from taking or damaging your personal property or property that you co-own with the abuser;
  • reimburse you for losses suffered as a result of abuse, such as medical expenses, lost earnings; property damage, attorney’s fees, moving and travel expenses, shelter and meals, cost of finding/
  • recovering your children, counseling for you and your children;
  • undergo counseling;
  • pay you child and spousal support;
  • not remove your child from the state, not to hide the child within the state, or to bring the child to court; and/or
  • not have access to the children’s school (or other) records.

The order or protection can give an abuse victim any of the following:

  • temporary custody of children, and determine temporary visitation rights, if any
  • custody of any animal owned by the victim, the abuser or the child (even if the child lives with the abuser) and order the abuser to stay away from the animal and forbid the abuser from taking, harming, or otherwise disposing of the animal
  • anything else necessary to prevent further abuse

Where an Order of Protection may be requested:

A petition for an order of protection may be filed in any county where the victim lives, where the abuser lives, where the abuse occurred, or where the victim is temporarily located if he or she left his or her home to avoid further abuse and could not obtain safe temporary housing in the county where his or her home is located.