Cindy Bischof, 43, of Chicago broke up with a longtime boyfriend and got a protective order that prohibited him from contacting her. When he violated it twice, she had him jailed. He was released and killed her and himself this month, reports the Chicago Tribune, which says the case shows “the harsh realities of domestic violence and the limitations of the system designed to address it.”
In some cases, a protective court order is not enough and the only viable option is for a woman to either enter a shelter or relocate, experts say. Nationwide, the number of women killed by intimate partners has declined in recent decades from about 2,900 in 1976 to 1,510 in 2005, says the U.S. Justice Department. Despite the declines, the cases occur with numbing frequency in the Chicago area. Research has identified danger signs — such as suicide attempts and losing interest in work, both of which Bischof’s killer displayed — that point to an increased likelihood of murder. A program in the Cook County state’s attorney’s office was created to identify high-risk cases and actively prosecute them. As the Bischof case showed, some people are not deterred by aggressive prosecution. Bischof’s family and other victims say the state should provide additional legal protections, such as mandatory electronic monitoring of people who have protective orders against them. “If they’re doing everything they can and this still happens, the laws need to be changed,” said Bischof’s brother, Michael. Some police officers, prosecutors and judges can be dismissive of protective order violations, allowing harassment, stalking and other abusive behavior to continue, said Jennifer Greene of Family Rescue, an organization that helps victims of domestic abuse.