Illinois Cities Report Increase In Domestic Violence Calls Under Stay-At-Home Order

ILLINOIS — Illinois’ stay-at-home requirement could be one of the reasons for an increase in domestic violence calls across the state.

Vickie Smith, chief executive officer and executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said over the past month there has been a jump in contacts made to various helplines for victims of domestic violence.

“One of the behaviors of a person who chooses to use violence against their partner is to isolate them and to control their movements, control their encounters with others, control where they go, what they do, when they do it,” Smith said. “This just really plays into the hands of someone who chooses to emotionally deprive their partner of any kind of interactions with anybody else.”

The city of Rockford has seen a 51 percent increase in calls over the past month, while Elgin’s numbers have gone up 56 percent. Calls in Chicago have jumped around 20 percent since the stay-at-home order went into effect.

“If I’m a survivor, right now I have a lot less access to anyone else that can give me different information or recognize that maybe I’m experiencing some emotional or psychological violence,” Smith said.

She said there are ways to help those who might be at risk.

“One of the things that we’ve all been encouraged to do is to check on each other more during this time,” Smith said. “If you have a family member or a friend that you suspect may be experiencing domestic violence, go the extra mile, call them more often.”

Smith also said it might be a good idea to reach out to those with domestic violence in their past or those who might have a propensity toward violence to talk through any stress or tension caused by the virus.

“It’s OK to say, ‘You know what, there are other ways to approach the person that you care about. Talk to me about what’s going on. Let me know what you’re worried about, what you’re feeling stressed about,’ ” Smith said.

Anyone who needs assistance is urged to call the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline at 877-863-6338, including those who might be looking for help for a friend or loved one.

“Just sort of think more about what might be going on, because we don’t know right now,” Smith said. “We just don’t know what we don’t see.”

The Center Square – Scot Bertram

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