The chances of being successful at leaving an abusive relationship are very low. That’s why a victim may leave 5 to 7 times before she is successful. So many things can be stacked up against you. Finances, fear, family, friends, children, religion, social disapproval, guilt, belief systems, marriage stigma and hope that the abuser will change, just to name a few. Also, when a victim is successful at leaving she is then sabotaged by her abuser. Some examples are: acts of violence, threats of violence, threats of violence against her family, threats of suicide, threats to take the children away, threats to call DCFS, cut off car insurance, stalked through phone activity or other gps devise, disable vehicles, take keys to vehicle, take tires off of vehicle, make false police reports, wipe out bank accounts, run up credit cards, wipe out saving accounts, destroy legal documents, cut off health insurance, cut off cell phone service, shut off utilities, make false reports to employers and false reports to the court, etc..
Leaving an abuser is a process and many victims access their safety daily. They are at a 75% higher risk of being injured and or killed when they leave than when they stay, therefore, it takes great courage for a victim to come forward for help. It has been proven that the more support a victim and her children have the greater her likely hood of being successful at safely leaving her abuser and also the greater her likely hood of staying away and creating a non violent life for herself and her children.
Each time a social service agency, other agency or entities help victims, it may seem small at the time, however think of it as if you were building a chain. Each hoop goes inside the other one to make it stronger and longer. One without the rest cannot be very strong but together it can withstand much more. Advocacy with victims is like this. Needs are great but together we can each give a part to make the strongest plan possible for the client.
As legal advocate’s we contact many of these agencies/staff on behalf of the victim to get services started as soon as possible. We intercede whenever needed and while working with others we begin the process of Building the Chain of Hope.A perfect example of how this works is:
- Cient comes for domestic violence counseling.
- Client is given bill of rights and info about Illinois Domestic Violence Act and how it works.
- Client participates in her safety plan.
- Client may be given support with EOP and going to court.
- Client may be referred to local or county police.
- Client may be referred to Land of Lincoln legal aide for free legal services for orders of protection, custody and or divorce.
- Client may be given referrals to other attorney’s.
- Client may be given info about crime a victim’s rights and AVN, automated victim notification system.
- Client may be given offer for safe, temporary shelter thru Dove.
- Client may be given referrals to Homeward Bound or other housing programs for rent based on income.
- Client may be given info about Housing Rights for Domestic Violence Victims. (Out of lease & change locks)
- Client may be given info about VESSA, to protect their job.
- Client may be referred to local food banks for immediate food.
- Client may be given referral to CEFS, MAX or DAX programs or other programs who help with financial needs.
- Client may be given referral to WIC.
- Client may be given referral to DHS for link and medical card.
- Client may be given referral to Habitat Re-Store to receive furniture needed for free. Including washer and dryers, ice box, etc. (or other agency’s who donate household items)
- Client may be given referral to Sullivan’s Thrift Shop to receive free clothing for self and children, also household items.
- Client is referred and given child support paperwork which goes directly to Il State Child Support Division.
- Client is supported in all court cases and with police reports.
- Client may be given referral to Growing Strong.
- Client may be given referral to Sacis.
- Client may be given referral for financial help in township.
- Client may be given referrals for child care thru EIU, Project Help, Bright Start, Head Start, and local daycare programs, etc.
- Client may be given referrals for New Life Car Care Program. Provides work on victims car with reduced rates.
- Client may be given application for free vehicle thru New Life Car Care Program.
- Client may be give info and referral to Lake Land College, Richland Community College and other higher education programs.
- Client may be given info a referral to local children’s programs such as: Taekwondo and free summer program at the park.
- Client may be given referral to SAIL program for people with disabilities.
- Client may be given referral for Free phone service and low cost phone service.
- Client may be given referral to Moultrie County Counseling Center, or any other counseling services, or
- Client may be given referral for Private Children’s counselor.As advocates with Dove, Inc., for domestic violence victims and their children we take a stand and do not give up, no matter the issues. We appreciate each and every service provided and
as you can see there are MANY agencies that provide services and are all a piece of the chain. We could not do what we do with such success without all the agencies and help of others in our communities. Together we are Building a Chain of Hope, a chain strong enough, to break the cycle of violence.
Mary R. Hughes
Moultrie County Coordinator