State of Illinois Has New Law Protecting Domestic Violence Victims

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Victims of domestic violence in Illinois will have new protections in January. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a new law on Wednesday that allows survivors to omit their address, whether it be a home address or the address of a domestic violence safe house, from court filings if it would risk their family’s safety. Supporters say court documents can lead abusers directly to their victims and children, putting them in constant fear, and danger. The law passed with bipartisan support and will take effect January of 2020.

Dona Leanard, Director of the Crisis Center Foundation in Jacksonville, says Senate Bill 399’s signing was a step in the right direction. “Prior to this, order of protection victims did not have to list their actual address if they felt it would put them in more danger. They could list the address of a local domestic violence shelter. Even that would make their location known. This is definitely a step in the right direction to increasing confidentiality and protection of victims and their children. My understanding it also includes any court filings not just orders of protection. If they feel that they are going to be in further danger, this will help them not being put at further risk of being harmed, especially if their abuser is trying to find their location out if they have fled.”

Leanard said that court documents are often released as public record that anyone can request. Abusers will often go to those lengths to find a victim that has gone into hiding.

Leanard is thankful that legislation of this nature went through quickly. “I want to thank the sponsors of this bill and the governor for quickly acting on this. My understanding is that this was just introduced in January; and to have something like this to move through the process this quickly and be signed into law is a testament to their willingness and commitment to protect domestic abuse victims and their children.”

For more information about how to get out of the cycle of domestic abuse or if you are needing support as a domestic abuse victim, call the Crisis Center Foundation hotline at 243-4357 or toll free at 877-243-5357. They are open 24 hours, 7 days a week.