YORKVILLE – It’s an all-too-common scenario.
Police are called to a residence where they arrest a person – usually a man – who has battered his wife or domestic partner – usually a woman.
The man is charged with domestic battery, but in the days that follow, the woman refuses to press charges or to be a witness against the man.
Sometimes the woman has convinced herself that the incident was her own fault. Or she simply believes she has no other option than to return living with the man.
Charges are dropped and the cycle of violence and abuse is set to begin all over again.
Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis has seen this scenario play out far too often and in frustration decided that a new approach needed to be taken.
“I called Sheriff (Dwight) Baird and said, ‘Hey we have to do something different’,” Weis said.
The result was the Kendall County Domestic Violence Response Team, designed to get victims the help they need.
Weis introduced members of the team to the Kendall County Board on May 17.
They include Sheriff’s Detective Thomas Hagerty and Detective Kasey Stoch, along with Assistant State’s Attorney Ryan Phelps.
Others include Mutual Ground Legal Advocate Jenna Nacht and Administrative Assistant Jaqueline Szypulinski of the Kendall County Health Department.
“The team reaches out to the victim while the offender is in custody,” Weis said.
Members of the group simultaneously build a legal case while providing the victim with the help she needs.
This could range from gaining a court order of protection or getting the woman into counseling, to something as simple as providing the victim with a cell phone or a meal.
The key is to remove the victim from a bad situation, Weis said.
“Our goal is not just to convict, but to stop recidivism and prevent the violence from happening again,” Weis said. “If we get one person out of this cycle it’s worth it.”
There are about 200 domestic violence cases in Kendall County every year, Weis said.
The state’s attorney credited county board member Robyn Vickers for her work to help create the response team.