Knowledge and resources shared at domestic violence presentation
SUN CITY – Part of the aftermath of the murder of Sun City resident Michelle Mathieu by her boyfriend this March is a focus on domestic violence in the community.
These concerns were addressed during “The Hidden Secret – Domestic Abuse,” a presentation on June 5 in Drendel Ballroom. The discussion shed light on what domestic violence is and what victims of it, or those who know a victim, can do for help.
Sgt. Linda Hooten of the Huntley Police Department was first to speak, sharing the good news that through April, domestic violence calls in Huntley have been down 27 percent since last year.
P.O. Box 723
Woodstock, IL 60098
Community Crisis Center
PO Box 1390
Elgin, IL 60121-1390
Senior Services Associates, Inc.
McHenry Township Rec. Center
3519 N. Richmond Road
McHenry, IL 60051
24-hour emergency phone: (800) 339-3200
Office: (815) 344-3555
Kathie Green is a resident and domestic abuse counselor. She is working to start a support group in Sun City for victims of abuse. She can be reached at 850-428-0582 or email@example.com
For more information on orders of protection, follow this link.
Hooten, who is head of the investigations department and domestic abuse coordinator, reported that in 2011, there were 27 calls from Sun City to the police regarding domestic trouble.
In addition to statistics, Hooten discussed patterns of domestic violence, such as how tension builds in relationships, which will lead to the incident of abuse, be it physical or verbal. Next come apologies from the abuser or blaming of the victim and, finally, a temporary reconciliation and calm phase, only to see the cycle repeat later.
“For a victim to come forward is a huge step, and it’s a very risky step for them because when a victim tries to leave, that’s when it becomes the most volatile in that relationship,” Hooten said.
Upon taking the step to leave the relationship, a victim may seek an order of protection against their abuser. In Illinois, an order of protection can be used against blood relatives, spouses or ex-spouses, roommates or ex-roommates, people who allegedly have a child in common, people who are dating or used to date, and people with disabilities and their personal assistants.
The order can: prevent an abuser from being near a victim or others affected by violence, require an abuser to turn over weapons, remove an abuser from a shared home and specify child visitation rights, among other options.
Dawn Koch, a victim advocate for Turning Point in McHenry County, spoke next. Turning Point is a domestic violence agency in Woodstock that serves men, women, and children who are victims of domestic violence. It offers services like counseling, children’s programs, therapy, emergency shelter, and assistance in obtaining orders of protection.
Turning Point can also assist victims of elder abuse, or abuse of seniors by younger adults or caretakers, but Koch stressed Senior Services in McHenry can offer specialized help.
Koch debunked myths on domestic abuse and its victims. One big mistake she said many make is stereotyping victims.
“That’s a big misconception, a big myth about domestic violence: that it only happens to women, that it happens to people that are uneducated, that it happens to people that are living in poverty,” she said. “It can happen to anybody.”
Koch also addressed the false beliefs that women return to abusive relationships because they are emotionally unstable, pregnant women are immune to assault, and that children need two parents even if one is violent.
“Sometimes a woman will say, ‘I didn’t call the police, because I didn’t want my children to see their father being hauled off in handcuffs,’” Koch said. “The damage is already done. The violence has already occurred. Those children have already witnessed or lived with that abuse. Let them see that someone who chooses to be violent is going to have a consequence from that.”
Both Koch and Hooten stressed that domestic violence is a learned behavior. Those who grow up with it may be more likely to become abusers or victims as adults.
While there are no absolute signs of domestic abuse, Koch said people who feel their partner is controlling, possessive, constantly blaming them and accusing them of infidelity, may want to seek help.
“If somebody comes to you and wants help or you think that there’s domestic violence going on in their relationship, the main thing is to be there for them,” Hooten said. “Don’t judge, don’t refer to other people, focus on them, express your concerns, know where to go to get help for them.”