One in five orders of protection obtained by Illinois domestic violence victims have not been served on the abuser, reports the Chicago Tribune. The disclosure has prompted calls for reforms by victims’ advocates and the state’s attorney general. Orders of protection, widely viewed as one of the most powerful tools to stop domestic violence, prohibit an abuser from contacting the victim. Violators can face court sanction; only 19 percent of the 27,868 active orders of protection have not been served, say Illinois State Police records.
Without enforceable legal protection, victims have suffered ongoing harassment and attacks, advocates said. “It’s very frustrating,” said Jacqueline Ferguson of the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Victims who show up to court and go through all the effort to get an order of protection find out it is not enforceable. Abusers can still prey upon them.” There are always going to be abusers who dodge being served, but the numbers also reflect systemic problems, experts say. County sheriffs have failed to serve abusers who are on parole or in prison, for example.