ST. CHARLES – In light of news reports about Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon weighing a run for Illinois attorney general, he said he has not yet made up his mind.
He responded to an inquiry after his Oct. 10 media briefing, which this month focused on Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Joining McMahon were Michelle Meyer, executive director of Mutual Ground in Aurora, and Maureen Manning, director of client services for the Community Crisis Center in Elgin. The agencies provide temporary shelter for victims, outreach to young people in schools and counseling programs among their services.
Looking at the county's statistics, McMahon said general felony and misdemeanor filings have decreased steadily between 2011 and 2016, by about 21 and 11 percent, respectively, but domestic battery cases have not declined, and continue to occur over all socioeconomic backgrounds in both rural and city settings.
"Domestic violence … is a crime of power, a crime of intimidation and a crime of emotion," McMahon said, citing a belief by male offenders that women are inferior and can be controlled by verbal and physical abuse. "It's a learned behavior … a generational issue."
Meyer said people exposed to domestic violence in their youth often become victims of violence or become perpetrators of violence, unless society intervenes to break the cycle. She said Mutual Ground is open to victims around the clock, and its services are free.
"We will not judge you; we will believe you and [offer] a safe environment," she said.
McMahon said his office handles about 1,150 to 1,250 domestic battery cases annually, adding that only a fraction of the incidents are reported. He said people are afraid to come forward for reasons ranging from fear of retaliation to deportation concerns, embarrassment, financial issues or religious grounds.
"Recidivism is lower if we can get them into treatment," Manning said of offenders.
Manning noted that among October observances will be a rally and candlelight vigil with McMahon as a guest speaker at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 at Elgin Community College's Seigle Auditorium, Building E, 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin. To learn more, visit crisiscenter.org. The center's hotline is 847-697-2380.
And Mutual Ground will hold a free legal forum for adults Oct. 26, inviting victims and survivors of domestic violence to ask questions about how to keep themselves and their family physically, emotionally and financially safe from further abuse.
WHAT: Legal forum on domestic violence and family law issues
WHEN: 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 26
WHERE: Mutual Ground, 418 Oak Ave., Aurora
COST: Free, with registration required by Oct. 20
INFO: 630-897-0080, mutualground.org