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 that 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

Domestic Violence Act Information

Domestic Violence (English)
Domestic Violence (Spanish)
Domestic Violence Act Brochure