Court Advocacy Coordinator Megan Rose spends three days a week at court. She faces criminals on a regular basis, protecting her clients in court in ways they are not able to. Her clients are generally women and children, her job is to protect those affected by domestic violence. Standing alongside them every step of the way, she acts as a “guardian angel”, aiding them with knowledge and support in dealing with the court system at 555 W Harrison.
“As a culture, we receive messages all the time about how individuals should be treated or how a relationship should look like,” said Rose. “Unfortunately, a lot of those messages support inferior treatment of women and I feel like that gets absorbed by a lot of young people and perpetuated sort of continuously.”
Rose works with the anti-domestic violence organization by attempting to eradicate such dangers, focusing on intimate partner violence and fights judicially to help victims.
Between Friends is a non-profit agency dedicated to “breaking the cycle of domestic violence and building a community free of abuse.” They have various programs of counseling, health care education and legal assistance, where citizens all over the Chicagoland area can be “saved” in one way or another. They also aid in youth-oriented education and visit public schools in order to reach out about anti-violence in teen relationships.
[pullquote]Listen to an interview with Megan Rose[/pullquote]
Rose leads Between Friends and deals with civil cases as a representation of an advocate, or even in criminal cases of domestic assault or domestic battery.
“My job is sometimes to see if an Order of Protection is right for them. I tell them about a list of options and choices with their objective and help them determine theirs. I also help in completing the paperwork, filing the case with the clerk’s office, and going to the court to stand beside her recalls instances to the judge,” said Rose.
The program serves a large variety of adults and children in order to assist them in orders of protection in the downtown Chicago and Northwest suburbs of Rolling Meadows. In that time period, Rose also assists in finding a better living space if one was not there, employment opportunities, and whatever else the client may need. Gathering evidence and expectations on future instances, and ensuring that they know how to report other instances are also priorities that Rose’s job entails.
The Illinois Domestic Violence act is a statute that governs and creates the order of protection, which is mainly what gets done in the organization. It covers a lot of relationships, including parent child, brother and sister, aunt and nephew.
“In Illinois, any type of strike or hit from a family or household member would count as domestic violence, and it is chargeable in a court as domestic violence,” said Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer Andrew Weisberg.
A child’s exposure to the domestic abuse is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next, according to the American Psychological Association.
“Domestic violence is a learned behavior not a mental illness, so it’s not caused by substance abuse or use, and I feel like it’s supported by a lot of messages that society wrongly transmits,” said Rose.
Domestic violence as Between Friends attempts to eradicate it, depicts more of a focus on intimate partner violence, according to Rose.
“The relief can come from no contact between two people, or exclusive possession of a shared home, issuing child support or payment for losses,” Rose said.
According to Weisberg, many repeat offenders aren’t generally found in courtrooms he’s experienced. If they have, greater charges of jail time has also arisen for them.
“Usually patients get admitted by first calling the 24 hour crisis center hotline, (800) 603-HELP (4357), then they get referred to by a counselor after a phone assessment is made over the phone, and if appropriate we give them as much assistance as we can from there,” said Director of Programming Yesenia Maldonado
According to their website, Between Friends’ Healthcare Education Project continues to be the only program on Chicago’s far North Side which prepares the healthcare field to safely and sensitively respond to the needs of domestic violence victims.
“We see about 600 people a year for direct services, and help out about 4000 students a year in schools with training and health care education,” said Maldonado
Between Friends also partnered with St. Francis Hospital, along with other medical providers, to prepare more than 1,700 nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to respond to the needs of survivors.
“A lot of members of Between Friends take an empowerment approach because many of our clients haven’t had power or control of their own lives, or could be decades since then,” said Rose. “We try not to replicate that so we give them some choices and it’s the clients that tell us what they would like.”
According to leading psychologists, evidence shows that domestic violence could lead to mental health problems in men and women involved in the matter.
Many victims and offenders are both suffering from long-term illnesses due to different types of domestic violence, according to the American Psychological Association. Not only do the victims suffer from physical and sexual abuse, but the incidents generally result from coercive abuse that the perpetrator had in the past as well as leading psychological damage of schizophrenia or even bipolar disorder.
With the help of Rose, Between Friends is one step closer to preventing domestic violence and such illnesses among citizens in the Chicagoland area.
- Victims of domestic violence deserve better(thegazette.com)