CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's been a week since prosecutors at Cook County's domestic violence courthouse have been able to screen victims' petitions to have charges pressed against their abusers in the city of Chicago.
Chicago police officers are now poised to take over a huge chunk of the process by taking care of all the initial paperwork after first responding to the call for help.
"There was no pause in services. We immediately set up a process that ensured unbroken service for the survivors of domestic violence," the State's Attorney's Office said in a statement Monday evening. "We expanded law enforcement's access to domestic violence ASAs to 24 hours a day every day because we anticipated the rise in domestic violence due to sheltering in place."
"We need to be ready to go as soon as we can," said Aileen Robinson, with the CPD domestic violence program. "If you need us, we're there. And that's an important message we want to get out. We don't want anybody to think that as a result of the coronavirus crisis we're in, we're not going to respond."
In just the past three weeks, the number of domestic violence calls to CPD have shown a dramatic increase. For the week ending March 22nd those calls were up 9.2 % compared to the same time last year. For the week ending April 5th, they were up 14.9%
"For victims, they're being asked to stay in the home with the very people who are trying to harm them. And that's dangerous and that's scary," said Stephanie Love-Patterson with CAWC.
CAWC has 24/7 shelters and will help women get out of the home and house them. But help is still available, including 24/7 shelters for victims who can find a way to get out.
"Our counselors have had to be super creative lately, telling victims to maybe say they're going to the store to buy a loaf of bread because it's running low, and then while at the store reach out to talk to us or call 911," Love-Patterson said.
Victims can still request and obtain a civil emergency order of protection at the courthouse.
Anyone in need of help can call the state's domestic violence hotline at 877-863-6338.