Insights ~ November 2017


Board President Honored 

Domestic abuse survivors who have to interact with the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) are at greater risk of having their children removed from the family home because the children have witnessed abuse. These families need services that will allow them to rebuild their lives and care for their children in safety. “The families we aim to serve will be stronger because of our collective strength, coordination, and approach,” stated SHALVA Board President Sara Block during her acceptance speech at the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network (CMBWN). Sara was honored for her groundbreaking work with the Family Defense Center and the CMBWN. This coalition of domestic violence and child welfare agencies has developed an innovative pilot project to improve DCFS interventions for families impacted by domestic violence.

The project places domestic violence professionals in Illinois DCFS investigative offices to advise DCFS staff and advocate for trauma-informed, supportive family interventions.

The successful Florida program that this project is based on has led to more children staying in their mother’s care and less time in foster care for those children that need to be removed. The state of Florida also reported saving taxpayer dollars because of the decreased amount of time in foster care.

Sara graciously acknowledged everyone involved, stating, “As is true with any partnership, it is those with whom we have partnered that deserve a spot next to me as I receive this honor. I use the pronoun ‘we’ intentionally because a partnership inherently does not exist in the singular and because it truly takes a village.”

The pilot project will launch in Lake County in early 2018.

At the Holiday Table

As Thanksgiving approaches, we want to take a moment to express our gratitude to all of our supporters and community partners for joining us in this work. We also want to be mindful that the holidays can bring anxiety and stress, especially for the 1 in 4 women in our community who have experienced abuse in their lives.

If you notice behavior such as possessiveness, overt control, or humiliating one’s partner in front of others:

  1. Privately share your concerns with the person who experienced the abusive behavior.
  2. Listen to, believe and affirm their feelings. This may be the first time their feelings have ever been acknowledged.
  3. Don’t tell them what to do. A survivor of domestic abuse is the expert of their experience.
  4. Personal safety is critical. Word getting back to an abuser that a friend or family member is offering advice or asking questions about abuse can put more people in danger.
  5. Check out SHALVA resources on our website ( or call us at 773.583.4673 if you’re unsure of what to say in any situation.

Remember that even if one is no longer experiencing abuse, the holiday season can be re-traumatizing or triggering for survivors. Make sure you tell your friends and family that you’re thankful for them this Thanksgiving, for their presence in your life and for their strength.

Run DV Out of Town

Is finishing a marathon on your bucket list? Did you know that registration for the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon closes on November 30th? If you register on your own you are entered into a lottery and not guaranteed entry. But no need to worry! SHALVA is a member of Run Domestic Violence Out of Town with guaranteed slots. Run DV Out of Town is a collaboration of 10 domestic violence service providers from across the city of Chicago, who have come together to advance our cause in ending domestic violence. As a partner, SHALVA receives a share of the proceeds. To register and receive more information check out or email Bethany Gomillion at .




Divorce Mediation in Domestic Abuse Cases: Can It Be a Good Option?

Family law mediators, attorneys and mental health professionals gathered at a continuing professional education program organized by SHALVA to recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to learn about best practices for mediating cases where there may be domestic abuse. Part of the challenge for the legal system is that cases do not come with a label stating “this is a domestic abuse case.” This makes it imperative that mediators screen for domestic violence, determine if the case is appropriate for mediation, and ensure that there is a safety plan.

Mediation works when there is a subject that needs to be addressed and both parties are ready to compromise and make decisions. This allows mediation to be an empowering decision making process. It is important for a mediator to ask, “How can we make this process safe for you? Will you be able to say ‘no’ to things you oppose?” It is also important to set realistic expectations. As presenter Rachel Moore stated, “These questions let me know if mediation might work for these people. I ask both parties to make sure that they are here for the right reasons.”

More information about mediation will be available on our website in December. Go to

                                               This program is supported by the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.


Did you notice our new bathroom sign?

It appears throughout the Chicagoland Jewish community and we always get the question: “Why the bathroom stall?”

Our bathroom signs play a crucial role in getting information to those who need it in a safe and confidential manner. Over the years, many of our referrals have come from these signs, and they remain our most recognized effort to get the word out about our free support services.

For victims of domestic and dating abuse, being in a bathroom may be the only time of day away from the abuser. This may be the only private moment to read and memorize the phone number to our confidential helpline.  Sometimes, the only way a victim can learn that their relationship is not healthy or safe is through a sign in the bathroom.

Please contact Viki Rivkin at  to request signs for your business, synagogue or agency.

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