Domestic violence homicides on the rise in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WRSP) —
In 2017, there were 41,243 adult survivors of domestic violence in Illinois.
While thousands received help, the number of people killed from domestic violence increased.
There were 61 domestic violence homicides in Illinois in 2017. In 2016 there were 49, according to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The reason for the spike is unclear.
“We can't say it's directly related to not having a budget for two years, but it is interesting to us the numbers were going down and then two years without a budget the numbers jumped back up," said Vickie Smith, the executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Two years without a state budget took a toll on domestic violence agencies throughout Illinois, with some shutting their doors and others cutting services.
"We stop doing community education, we stop doing community programs, we cut back on staff, that's where the cost is so if we have fewer people available we're less available to people in crisis," said Smith.
Smith said when someone dealing with domestic violence contacts their agency, it's usually because they need help immediately.
She said if domestic violence resources aren't available it could have life-threatening consequences.
“If we're not open immediately, we're not available to people when they need us,” said Smith.
Sojourn Shelter, a resource for people needing a safe place following domestic violence, said the number of people contacting them for help decreased.
“There were so many stories and so many domestic violence agencies closing in the state that people didn't know what was happening with us,” explained Angela Bertoni, with Sojourn Shelter.
Bertoni said it's vital resources like there's are available because often times it can save a life.
“I think the first thing that people don't understand is that when someone reaches out that may be their only chance. When someone is leaving a domestic violence situation they're at 75-percent greater risk of being killed so when they vacate that situation they need someplace open," said Bertoni.
Domestic violence agencies are fully funded this fiscal year but said they have no clue what the future holds.