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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
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October 23, 2008

MADIGAN ENCOURAGES AWARENESS OF
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ISSUES

Attorney General, Holmes, Chapa LaVia Visit Aurora Shelter

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today visited Mutual Ground, an Aurora domestic violence shelter, to stress the importance of recognizing the signs of domestic violence and to take action to stop this crime. In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Attorney General, Sen. Linda Holmes (D-42nd) and Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-83rd) discussed the critical work of domestic violence shelters around the state, introduced a domestic violence quiz to raise awareness of how to identify signs of abuse and presented the shelter with a $42,000 grant from the Illinois Violent Crime Victims Assistance Fund, which is administered by Madigan's office.

Madigan said Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a critical time to educate the public about the crime and to remember those lost due to a domestic violence-related homicide. Since 2007, 66 people have died as a result of domestic violence. Statistics show that a woman is abused every 10 seconds, and four women a day die at the hands of their husbands or partners in the United States.

The startling statistics belie the fact that many people are unaware that domestic violence often involves more than just physical abuse. It's a pattern of physical violence, threats, intimidation and tactics used to control victims that can affect women of all ages and in all kinds of relationships.

"Individuals may not be able to recognize initial signs of abuse in their friends or family members," Madigan said. "Domestic violence comes in many forms and doesn't always start by leaving a physical mark or a scar. It is critical that we spread awareness of all of the signs of domestic violence, so that we can stop the cycle of abuse that so often escalates into violence."

Madigan was joined by Holmes and Chapa LaVia, who are both strong advocates for domestic violence funding and supporters of efforts to stop this crime.

"Domestic violence damages too many lives. If we can get the word out that help is available, we can end the cycle," Holmes said. "That is a goal everyone can support and a goal that Mutual Ground is helping to achieve."

"Domestic violence crosses all language and cultural barriers, so we must be vigilant in getting the message out to everyone that there is help and there is hope," Chapa LaVia said. "The grant being awarded today will help Mutual Ground do that."

The Domestic Violence Awareness Quiz is a series of questions designed to help individuals determine whether they or their friends or family members are victims of domestic abuse. The quiz is available on Attorney General Madigan's Web site at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov. Madigan is also distributing the quiz to news media for publication.

The quiz explains that if a person answers yes to any or all of the following questions, this may be a sign of an abusive relationship.

Does your partner:

  • Keep track of your schedule and whereabouts?
  • Control you by being very bossy or demanding?
  • Blame others, especially you, for his/her mistakes?
  • Accuse you of flirting or cheating?
  • Constantly criticize you?
  • Control all the money?
  • Humiliate you in front of others (including making "jokes" at your expense)?
  • Threaten to hurt you, your children, or your pets?
  • Use violence or intimidation to stop you from spending time with friends and family?
  • Use violence or intimidation to stop you from working or going to school?
  • Force you to have sex, or demand sexual acts that make you uncomfortable?
  • Push, hit, slap, punch, kick, or bite you or your children?

Madigan offered the following suggestions for those who believe they may know someone who is a victim of abuse:

  • Listen to the victim and believe her.
  • Remind the victim that the violence is not her fault.
  • Talk openly and without judgment.
  • Offer to go with the victim for help.
  • Validate the victim's feelings and strengths.
  • Talk with the victim in private, encourage the victim to find help but don't tell others unless the victim asks you to.
  • Gather information, such as the number for a local domestic violence agency or local court options, to help take effective action.

Madigan urged anyone who thinks they know someone who is in an abusive relationship to take it seriously, and she asked anyone who thinks they could be in an abusive relationship to call for help.

"We all have the right to be safe in our homes," Madigan said. "Even if you have the slightest inclination that a loved one is in a dangerous relationship, make the call. There are numerous resources and organizations throughout Illinois that can help."

Madigan's office administers the Violent Crime Victims Assistance Fund, which provides $8 million in grant funding to help victims of violent crimes and victim services providers around the state. Mutual Ground offers shelter, financial assistance and counseling to domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Founded in 1975, the agency provides a 24-hour hotline that helps victims obtain legal assistance, children's counseling, medical assistance, parenting and computer classes, and referrals to other area agencies to enable victims to become independent from their abusers. The grant will help Mutual Ground to hire a bilingual victim's advocate and a sexual assault program director. For more information, visit http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/ or http://www.mutualgroundinc.com/.

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