What we learn
Domestic Violence Education
The Network is a hub for information about domestic violence in Cook County and beyond.
The Knowledge Center contains informational resources, policy positions, and public statements.
About Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a pattern of intentional physical and psychological abuse, threats, intimidation, isolation or economic coercion used by one person to exert power and control over another person in the context of a dating, family or household relationship.
Domestic violence is maintained by societal and cultural attitudes, institutions and laws which are not consistent in naming this violence as wrong.
Types of Abuse
In a domestic violence relationship, the person causing the abuse tries to maintain power and control over the other person by:
- Coercion and Threats: Making or carrying out threats to hurt them, threatening to leave them, threatening suicide, threatening to call child welfare, making her drop charges, forcing her to do illegal things.
- Intimidation: Making them afraid by using looks, gestures, throwing items, holding weapons, breaking property.
- Emotional Abuse: Putting them down, making her feel bad about themselves, calling them names, calling them crazy, playing mind games, humiliation and embarrassment.
- Isolation: Controlling where they go, who they talk to. Limiting their social life. Using jealousy to control them.
- Economic Abuse: Preventing them from getting a job, making them beg for money, not letting them have access to family income, controlling access to insurance and medical benefits, threatening homelessness.
- Using Children: Making them feel guilty about being a bad parent, using children to relay messages, using child visitation to harass them.
- Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming: Making light of abuse, not taking concerns seriously. Denying abuse ever happened, saying it is their fault the abuse happened.
- Using Social Privilege: Holding them to strict gender roles, using race or immigration status against them, threatening to “out” them as LGBTQ+
Recognizing Domestic Violence
There are some signs you can look out for if you suspect a friend, coworker, or loved one is being abused. These include:
- Unexplained injuries, bruising, or other pains
- Unseasonable weather (like wearing long sleeves in the summer)
- Withdrawn and not as social as they used to be
- Acting fearful around their partner, or being quiet or letting their partner answer questions and speak for them
- Symptoms of depression and trauma, like exhaustion, confusion, isolation, and panic
- Blames themselves for their partner’s anger or dissatisfaction
- Minimizes or denies arguing, fighting, or abuse within the household
- Stops taking care of their own mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs
- Frequent visits to the doctor or hospital for unexplained or odd reasons
- Missing work or social obligations more often than usual
How to Help
There are things you can do to help someone who may be experiencing domestic violence. The most important things to do are to:
- Listen: You may be the first person your friend, coworker, or loved one has told about the abuse. Validate their feelings by letting them know you believe them, you’re sorry this happened to them, and you are here to listen.
- Support: Let them know you are a safe person to talk to. Do this by being supportive and not asking questions that could place the blame on them. Avoid statements like: Why did you stay? What did you do to make them mad? What were you wearing?
- Connect: Connect them to resources that can help, and let them decide who to contact, if they want to contact anyone, and when to do it. Taking the first (or second, or third) step to get help is hard, and can often put victims of abuse at risk. A great resource is the Illinois Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7, 365 days a year.
Where to go for help
If you or someone you know needs help, call the Illinois Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-877-863-6338. Trained Victim Information and Referral Advocates are available 24/7, 365 days a year to answer your questions by phone. You can also text the Hotline!
Projects and Position Papers
Cook County State’s Attorney 2020 Election Guide
See responses from Cook County’s State’s Attorney candidates on the felony review process and efforts to ensure appropriate charging, response to sexual exploitation and prostitution related charges, the use of self-defense by survivors of gender-based violence, data transparency, working with underserved communities such as communities of color, immigrant and LGBTQ communities and more.
Domestic Violence Outcome Measures
Through the strategic leadership and vision of The Network, our member programs have partnered with expert researchers to assess the long term impact of our services to survivors across Chicagoland. The 2016 Report provides clear and compelling evidence that our core services are working and worth the investment.
Based on our 2016 report, we found that immediate safety is no longer a primary concern for most survivors surveyed and they are satisfied with the services they received. Data continues to be collected as a part of the Domestic Violence Outcomes Measure.
Request materials to share information about domestic violence or where to go for help, or download resources we have available.