In 2004, the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s Office, Center for Prevention of Abuse, Peoria County Sheriff’s Office, Peoria Police Department and Peoria County Probation Department formed a multidisciplinary team to provide a coordinated community response for domestic violence survivors. The Peoria County Family Justice Center came to fruition from this effort after being awarded funding via the STOP Violence Against Women Act Formula Grant program, and it continues to serve victims of domestic violence in Peoria County to the present day. This partnership has strengthened the collaborative relationship between the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s Office and Center for Prevention of Abuse.
Victims of domestic violence are referred to the Center for Prevention of Abuse to access a multitude of services. They can seek safe shelter at the Peoria location or at Carol House of Hope in Pekin, as well as transition into longer-term housing in apartments located on-site. The State’s Attorney’s Office encourages victims of domestic violence to obtain emergency and plenary orders of protections. They may utilize the Center for Prevention of Abuse’s Order of Protection Office in the Peoria County Courthouse.
In addition, the Family Justice Center has domestic violence advocates who can assist with orders of protections. Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault are encouraged to seek counseling and attend support groups offered by the Center for Prevention of Abuse, while families with children who have been exposed to domestic violence are referred to the Center’s Safe from the Start program so they can receive counseling from licensed therapists.
In cases of elder abuse, victims and family members are encouraged to access the services provided by the Adult Protective Services division of the Center of Prevention of Abuse. The Center also has established a Human Trafficking division to provide services and counseling to victims of human trafficking. Defendants in domestic violence cases are sentenced to attend the 26-week domestic violence program provided by the Family Intervention Project at the Center.
In addition to the strong connection with the Center for Prevention of Abuse, the State’s Attorney’s Office refers victims to Prairie State Legal Services, which can provide representation in civil matters such as evictions, foreclosures, and the loss or denial of public and subsidized housing benefits. Staff attorneys at Prairie State Legal Services can also assist victims with divorce, child custody and visitation proceedings. Victims are encouraged to apply for assistance and representation for order of protection hearings as well.
The Peoria County State’s Attorney’s Office understands that victims of crime often face numerous challenges because of—and apart from—the crimes committed against them. The State’s Attorney’s Office is dedicated to not only the prosecution of criminal cases, but also to assisting victims in accessing available community resources. PM
Jerry Brady is Peoria County State’s Attorney. Corie Sego is project coordinator at the Peoria County Family Justice Center.