If you are a victim and your abuser has a gun or you feel unsafe for other reasons, it is important to work with a victim advocate. The following organizations can help you find an advocate free of charge:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE;
- VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846;
- The Illinois Domestic Violence Helpline at (877) 863-6338;
- Any of the local domestic violence programs listed here.
It is also helpful to have a lawyer assist you, particularly when you are seeking an order of protection. You can find a lawyer using the Chicago Bar’s website (for lawyers inside Chicago) or the Illinois Bar’s website (for lawyers outside of Chicago). If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Illinois Legal Aid.
How to Get Protection
What kind of domestic violence orders of protection are available in Illinois?
Illinois courts can issue three types of domestic violence orders of protection. In each of these orders, the court can help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner:
- Emergency orders of protection1*
- Interim orders of protection2*
- Plenary orders of protection3*
Courts can prohibit respondents* from possessing* firearms.4 If the court prohibits a respondent from possessing firearms, the court will also issue a warrant for law enforcement to take his/her/their firearms away and require the respondent to turn over their Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card to law enforcement.5 Without their FOID card, the respondent cannot purchase or possess firearms.6
How can you get an order of protection?
Click here to see if you are eligible for an order of protection in Illinois.
You can find your local court here.
Court forms can be found here.
What do I do if I do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but I still need protection from someone?
If you do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but need protection from someone (including a stranger, an acquaintance, or another person not covered under a domestic violence protection order), you might qualify for some other type of order. Contact VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846 or a lawyer for more information. You can find a lawyer using the Chicago Bar’s website (for lawyers inside Chicago) or the Illinois Bar’s website (for lawyers outside of Chicago). If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Illinois Legal Aid.
How can the court help protect you?
Illinois courts can prohibit respondents* to emergency, interim, and plenary orders of protection from possessing firearms for the duration of the order. If a court orders7 this, the court will also:
- Order the respondent to turn over his/her/their Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) to law enforcement.8 A FOID card is required to purchase or possess firearms in Illinois9; and
- Issue a warrant for law enforcement to take the respondent’s firearms.10
Illinois courts can also order whatever other relief* they believe is necessary to protect you.11 Some of the things a court can order include:
- Scheduling a follow up compliance hearing* to ensure that the respondent has not accessed additional firearms since the order was issued;
- Ordering law enforcement to go to your home at scheduled times to check in on your safety;
- Ordering the respondent to stay away from you, your children, your family, and anyone else in immediate danger, based on the threats and/or actions of the respondent;
- Ordering the respondent not to hurt you or threaten to hurt you in the future;
- Anything else you need to be safe.
How will the court know what you need to protect you from the respondent’s firearms violence?
In your petition* and during any of the hearings* you participate in when you are seeking protection, you will have the opportunity to tell the court about the respondent’s* threats or acts of abuse, especially ones involving firearms. Every situation is different, and it is important to talk to a lawyer about your specific situation. You can find a lawyer using the Chicago Bar’s website (for lawyers inside Chicago) or the Illinois Bar’s website (for lawyers outside of Chicago). If you cannot afford a lawyer, information about free- and low-cost legal help is available from Illinois Legal Aid.
Your story will help the court decide what relief* to give you. Whether you are filling out court forms or speaking directly to the court, it is important to tell the court about the violence you experienced (working with a lawyer, if you have one), especially if the respondent used or threatened to use a firearm against you, a member of your family, any member of the community, or your pet. Among other things, this may involve telling the court:
- About incidents of physical violence or threats of physical violence and include dates wherever you can;
- How the respondent used firearms to hurt or threaten you, your family, your pet(s), or anyone in the community;
- If you fear that the respondent may use firearms violence or threats of firearms violence in the future;
- If the respondent has threatened to harm him/her/themself. This may be a sign that the respondent intends to use a dangerous weapon like a firearm against you, themself, or other people;
- If you can, the type(s), number, and location of firearms the respondent has access to.