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Insights ~ February 2019

Current IL Legislative Concerns

Once again, proposed amendments to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”) have been introduced that will change the way parenting time is determined in divorces. This legislation would place an unfair burden on domestic abuse and sexual assault survivors in divorce and parenting cases.

The bill (HB 185) requires judges to presume that equal parenting time and decision making responsibility is in the children’s best interests. The bill ignores that judges can already order equal parenting time. In cases involving domestic abuse, survivors would have the burden of proving that equal parenting time with a parent who the children witnessed abusing the other parent is not in the child’s best interest.

According to Barbara Siegel, SHALVA clinical director, this is a problem for SHALVA clients because children are the most powerful tool for abusers to gain power and control. Abusers will exercise further control over victims and intimidate them through the court process. The law would also force survivors to live close to their abusers and make child-related decisions with them. The cycle of abuse will simply be allowed to continue.

“Clients have said ‘I feel as though I am under a microscope and held to a higher standard in regard to parenting my children’ and ‘I have to disprove every accusation made by him and yet he is never held accountable for his behavior,’” according to Ms. Siegel.

We encourage you to reach out to your legislators, asking them to oppose this legislation, particularly if he or she has signed on as a co-sponsor. To find your representative click here.

5 Ways to Stay Sunny on Gray Days

The polar vortex closed many workplaces and the dismal weather continued this week. For survivors of domestic abuse, the cold weather brought even more isolation and time with their abusers. “When there is an abusive person in the family, and they are forced to be together for longer periods of time, there is an increased potential for violence,” said Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in an interview with ABC News.

Prepare for more cold weather (it’s only February) and take care of yourself. This doesn’t make you selfish—it allows you to stay positive and be more present for those you care about. Here are some great tips from the SHALVA clinical staff that help our clients improve their outlook and beat the doldrums.

  1. Breathe. Stop what you are doing and take some big, deep breaths. Just breathe deeply, in through your nose and out slowly through your mouth.
  2. Escape into a book. Not only are stories fun to read, one study showed people who read novels are more empathetic.
  3. Cookies. Find a cookie recipe you’ve always wanted to try and go for it.
  4. Pay it forward. Volunteering to help others builds gratitude. You can even volunteer for SHALVA!
  5. Find your laugh again. If it’s been a while since something made you laugh so hard you cried, it’s time for the healing power of giggles. Listen to a comedy podcast, watch a silly program or treat yourself to the latest comedy on the big screen.

Share these tips with a friend!

Is Volunteering One of Your New Year’s Resolutions?

You can help build a strong and peaceful community, where every woman is safe in her home or relationship. Come learn about volunteer opportunities at our next orientation on: Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at 7:00 pm at the Skokie Public Library, 5215 Oakton Street.

Opportunities include:

  • Assisting at SHALVA events
  • Joining a SHALVA committee
  • Hosting a salon at your home for friends to learn more about domestic abuse
  • Distributing bathroom posters to area synagogues, businesses and doctors’ offices
  • Collecting cell phones to raise funds

To register, click here.

Someone you know needs help.

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