WHEATON, Ill. -- DuPage County is introducing a QR code that will allow domestic violence victims to get help safely and discreetly.
When Kathleen Savio was found dead in 2004, her death was initially ruled accidental. She told relatives of her fears that her ex-husband Drew Peterson would kill her, but she never got help until it was too late.
"Maybe it would have changed her outcome. Maybe she'd still be here, and so would Stacy," said Norma Peterson, Drew Peterson's sister-in-law.
Drew Peterson was eventually convicted of Kathleen Savio's murder in 2012. But the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, remains unsolved.
DuPage County State's Attorney Bob Berlin is introducing a QR code that first responders can share with domestic abuse victims on the scene. It leads survivors to services to help them discreetly without alerting the abuser.
"The whole idea is to provide victims and survivors with as much protection as we can," Berlin said.
The state's attorney said cases of domestic abuse in DuPage County have risen in the last year from 1,571 in 2021 to 1,743 last year, an increase of nearly 11%.
Nicole Ousley of the YWCA Metro Chicago said she deals with victims who are often too scared to find help.
"Now your abuser doesn't know you're looking for counselling in order to help yourself," Ousley said.
The QR code is initially going to be used by first responders to share with victims. Norma Peterson's organization, Document the Abuse, has been using a similar system in offering help to victims and protection from their abusers.
"So what we're looking for is a safe way to communicate with victims at the time the incidents occur," Peterson said. "So they don't want to cause any more trauma or danger."
DuPage Country plans to make the QR code and the links to services available to the general public by posting it on signs in public places. Officials believe ultimately it will save lives.