20, No. 10, Nov. 16, 2000
violence common, but underreported
Mabry , Assistant Editor
(217) 244-1072; firstname.lastname@example.org
by Bill Wiegand
Hawley, (left) an investigator, and Joan Fiesta, a corporal,
are just two members of the UI's police department who often
encounter victims of domestic violence. one in three women
will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
The scene isnt
that uncommon. A couple has an argument. The female tries to walk away,
but the guy grabs her arm to stop her.
Just a few weeks ago a UI student found herself in that situation with
her 22-year-old boyfriend who was visiting from Chicago. When she tried
to walk way, he chased after her on the sidewalk and then ran in front
of her to block her. He called her names and grabbed her arm.
He reached into her purse and got her keys, and then threw them at her.
He picked her up and hoisted her over his shoulder and carried her behind
a nearby building.
Fortunately, a stranger walking his dog asked the woman if she needed
help. The womans boyfriend put her down and she was able to run
to the safety of her residence hall.
Once there, she called the police, as she should have. She had been
the victim of domestic violence.
Her boyfriend was arrested for domestic battery and unlawful restraint.
The two were ordered by the court not to have contact with each other
for 72 hours. She was given information about how to get an order of
protection to keep him away. And she learned about the safe house on
campus for domestic violence victims. She also learned of other resources
where she could get guidance and counseling if she wanted.
"Domestic violence is a pervasive thing and its hidden,"
said Cpl. Joan Fiesta of the UI Police Department. One in three women
will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
"A lot of it goes on, but I dont think people recognize it
as domestic violence."
It is very much underreported, just like rape, according to Viki Hawley,
an investigator with the UI police. It can happen in marriages and in
relationships of all kinds, including same-sex relationships and between
roommates in residence halls.
Police estimate that violence occurs in approximately one out of four
dating relationships on campus.
"A lot of times people dont know its going on, or theyre
afraid of getting the (abuser) in trouble," Hawley said. "I
had a telephone call from someone who said I suspect that domestic
violence is going on, but I dont want to make false accusations.
I say, when in doubt, report it.
"The victim can turn down the offer of help and deny that anything
is going on," Hawley said. "But at least she knows that there
is help out there and that people are watching out for her or
In dating relationships, abuse can occur when one person in the relationship
begins hurling insults or calling the other names. Warning signs are
yelling, threats and acts meant to purposely humiliate the other in
public. There also can be isolation of a partner from family or friends,
or threats to "out" a same-sex partner.
Physical abuse includes hitting, punching, shoving, restraining, destroying
property and choking. Abusive sexual behavior is rape and any coercion
or forcing of a partner to engage in sexual activity.
Dating violence is recognized as a crime under the Illinois Domestic
Violence Act and is also a violation of the Student Conduct Code.
A recent state law takes the onus of pressing charges off the victim
by requiring that police make an arrest if there is clear aggression.
That tells the aggressor that it is not the victim who is responsible
for the charges, it is the state.
"A lot of times in the past victims wouldnt want to press
charges because they feared repercussions," Hawley said. "But
if you put the responsibility on the state, it helps."
Fiesta said shes seen domestic violence in all forms, from shouting
matches to full-blown fights.
"Sometimes when the victim comes in for photos they are bruised
up and down their bodies," Fiesta said. "Its terrible.
And its a cycle.
"You hear a lot from the victim my partner was very
charming. I never knew. It just follows. Maybe a battle
will happen and the next day, flowers come. Theres a period of
forgiveness and then a honeymoon period and then it falls back into
that cycle of violence. And it just keeps getting worse and worse."
And each time the violence happens, the degree of violence tends to
escalate and the chances of it being lethal increase, Hawley said.
"They start out by pushing or shoving, and then it increases from
there," Hawley said. "A lot of times it will take a victim
seven to nine times to leave an abusive relationship."
A whole range of crimes are associated with domestic violence. In fact
officers often respond to reports that seem unrelated to domestic violence
such as damage to a car and find out when they get there
that it is a domestic violence situation. Related crimes are criminal
damage to property, violation of orders of protection, telephone line
interference, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, harassment by
telephones, stalking and criminal sexual assault.
"And there can be forced financial exploitation especially
of an elderly or disabled person," Hawley said. "There can
be criminal trespass to property. You come home from work and this person
is sitting on your front porch."
The university does have a safe house on campus for victims. (Call 333-5626
for information). It offers a temporary haven for victims where their
abusers are not going to find them. It also allows them time to make
arrangements, such as finding a new apartment or room in a residence
"We also provide police standbys," Fiesta said, "where
we will have officers go with the victim to get items from their home."
"Thats one of the obligations we have, to see that the victim
gets to a place where he or she will be safe and with their things,"
There also are support groups on campus for victims of domestic violence.
There is a coalition known as the Dating-Domestic Abuse Project that
focuses on victim safety, offender accountability, and public awareness
and education. That number is 333-3137.
A Womans Place in Urbana (384-4390) also offers shelter, help
with orders of protection and other services to victims of domestic
violence and their children.
Counselors also are available through the Faculty-Staff Assistance Program
at 244-5312. Students also can get help from the McKinley Health Center,
333-2700, and the Counseling Center, 333-3704.
Every university police officer has received training in handling domestic
violence situations. They learn that one of the things to tell the victim
is, "You dont deserve to be hurt."
Hawley said the potential for violence to escalate in these relationships
It also affects those in the households who are not being hit, such
"It has a lot of victims, not just the ones being beaten,"
Hawley said. "I think its really important that victims and
their children get counseling to help them through it."
Fiesta emphasized that people should not be afraid to become involved
in the reporting of domestic violence.
"If theres any suspicion, its OK that we investigate
it," Fiesta said. "You never know. You might be helping somebody
and you could make a huge difference in somebodys life by getting
involved. And if youre in a domestic relationship, dont
be ashamed to call. We have a lot of programs on campus here to help."
People with questions are encouraged to call the police just to talk,
"Our officers are more than willing to talk and give advice and
assistance and offer resources," she said. "We want to do
whatever we can to help."