Illinois domestic violence hotline calls increase 90% compared to pre-pandemic levels

Jasmine Minor Image
Friday, May 10, 2024
Domestic violence hotline calls increase 90% from pre-pandemic levels
Illinois domestic violence hotline calls have increased 90% compared to pre-pandemic levels, The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence said.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Calls to the Illinois domestic violence hotline have increased nearly 90% since pre-pandemic levels. That increase is highlighting the demand for more resources for survivors.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, there is help available. Call 1-877-TO END DV. That's 1-877-863-6338.

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When someone calls the hotline, the focus immediately turns to getting that survivor to safety. However, according to The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence, for a third of 2023, 124 days, there were no shelter beds or cribs available in Chicago.

It's one thing for the hotline to get the call. It's another to have a place of safety available.

"We'd probably need 2,500 to 3,000 across the state to equitably meet the demand," said Amanda Pyron, The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence Executive Director.

That's how many more domestic violence shelter beds Pyron says the state needs.

The organization's new report shows a 45% increase from 2022 to 2023 in requests for shelter. That was nearly 18,000 requests across the state, and that number is added to the three-year trend of increased requests.

"someone's fleeing domestic violence, that's the most dangerous time for them the most likely time that they're going to be hurt or killed, because the abuser is losing control over them."

Rebecca Darr, CEP of Wings, a domestic violence service provider, says her organization spends over $1 million a year to keep their current shelters open because they understand what happens when a survivor doesn't have anywhere to go.

"I think people are seeing those stories and realizing that if they are with someone who's threatening to kill them, that threat is real," Darr said.

Carmen Navarro-Gercone is working with the Cook County Circuit Court of Clerk to turn empty courthouse spaces into domestic violence survivor centers as they make a push to turn paper files into digital ones.

"We've had over 3,000 orders for protection entered this year alone," Navarro-Gercone said. "A lot of the space, the real estate, so to speak, that is being used up as being used up with boxes and boxes of just paper files. And so moving to this digital system has allowed us to clear a lot more space."

The space is something they believe will save lives.

"Every time a new story runs, that we lost another one, we feel as providers in this space that we have failed," Darr said.

The Cook County Circuit Court Clerk's Office says they are planning to release a data report on this issue in the next few weeks that they believe will help push the state to provide more funding to the domestic violence space.