Jesiel Advances Legislation to Enhance Protection for Domestic Violence Victims

This week, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) advanced legislation that would expand the training standards for police to enhance protection for victims of domestic violence. While all law enforcement officers in Illinois are trained in procedures to recognize and handle domestic violence situations, Jesiel’s legislation, House Bill 5538, would improve the training standards for officers to prevent further victimization caused by the emotional trauma of domestic violence.

“Domestic violence causes damage to a victim that goes far beyond the physical impact,” said Jesiel. “It’s very important that we ensure that the training of our law enforcement officers focuses not just on procedures when responding to incidents of domestic violence, but also on preparing them to understand the psychological dynamics between abusers and their victims.”

House Bill 5538 updates the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 and the Domestic Violence Act of 1986 to ensure that law enforcement training for new recruits includes more than just tactical procedures. The legislation also provides that every five years, continuing education programs for current officers will also be implemented in coordination with other agencies and community organizations that work with victims.

In many cases of domestic violence, the victim may exhibit behavior that, without understanding history and background, can be misinterpreted by those responding and investigating these incidents. It is not uncommon for the psychological trauma to cause a victim to react in a similar manner to someone with Stockholm Syndrome, causing the victim’s response to their abuser to be misunderstood. These kinds of complex situations emphasize why it’s so important for officers to recognize the psychological signs of abuse.

“The abuser-victim relationship is rarely straightforward and it’s crucial that our officers know how to work with the parties to avoid unwittingly exposing the victim to more trauma,” said Jesiel.

Jesiel’s legislation, which passed the Judiciary – Criminal Committee with unanimous consent, will now be sent to the full House for consideration. To read more about HB 5538 click here.