October is domestic violence month and in Illinois, several new laws protecting survivors of domestic violence have been passed to help support those who are the process of leaving an abusive relationship and starting new without their abusive partners in their lives.
Senate Bill 1645: Amendment to the Public Utilities Act to Provide 60-Day Grace Period
One of the most recent bills to be passed is Senate Bill 1645. This bill amends the Public Utilities Act, which provides that survivors of domestic violence who are in the process of running away from their abusers are given a deferral from having to pay initial deposits for utility services immediately upon move in to a new home. Generally, when people move into a new home, there are initial deposits and service fees to initiate the utilities within the home. For those who are survivors of domestic violence and are fleeing from their abusers, finding a home for themselves and their children immediately after fleeing the shared home with their abuser can be difficult.
Requirements to Receive 60-Day Grace Period Benefit
For those survivors who do not have family or friends who can house the family until the family is ready to live on their own, this new law gives the family breathing room to set up shop in the new home and save money for rent and the bare necessities for up to 60 days. To avail themselves of this benefit, survivors and their family must show that they have the basis for the issuance of an order of protection or have a certification letter provided by a medical professional, law enforcement personnel, a domestic violence shelter, a state’s attorney or the Attorney General. This law will go into effect January 1, 2016.
Necessity for the Bill: Difficulty of Survivors to Leave Abuser
There are many reasons why it is already difficult for a survivor of domestic violence to leave her abuser. The survivor most likely has already been separated from family and friends, and may have nowhere to go. Her abuser may be in a position of power, wealthy, or a big name in the community so she is afraid no one will believe her. The survivor may be in denial about the abuse and that she is in danger, or may believe that the abuser has reasons in his life to justify the violence (job stress, substance abuse, etc.).
Benefit of this Bill for Those Fleeing from Their Abusers
Though it is already difficult for a survivor to leave her abuser, this law will be crucial to provide a safety net for survivors considering making the move to leave. In other words, this law removes one more impediment from her leaving. However, leaving is still the most difficult and dangerous part of the fleeing process. One statistic published in the Guardian emphasized the point that 50 percent to 75 percent of domestic violence homicides occur when the survivor is leaving or has left her abuser. It has also been estimated that it takes the average survivor five to seven times before she finally leaves her abuser for good. Hopefully with an introduction of a law like Senate Bill 1645, it will become easier for a survivor to leave.
Experienced Family Law Attorneys in DuPage County
Leaving an abusive spouse is never easy and orders of protection can be complicated. It is important to speak with the experienced family law attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC who can provide guidance on protecting yourself and your family from domestic violence. Contact our experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation.
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