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What Constitutes “Abuse” for the Purpose of Illinois Orders of Protection?

Article written by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
November 1, 2019

In this article, we will discuss what constitutes “abuse” for the purposes of Illinois Orders of Protection.  Orders of Protection are court orders intended to protect the petitioner or some other protected party from future abuse by family or household members.  For some foundational knowledge about Orders of Protection, check out our article, Illinois Orders of Protection Explained.

Unless the petitioner for an Order of Protection is filing on behalf of a neglected high-risk adult, the petitioner must demonstrate that either the petitioner or the minor on behalf of whom the petitioner is filing has been “abused” by the respondent.  “Abuse” is defined by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act as:

  • Physical abuse;
  • Harassment;
  • Interference with personal liberty;
  • Intimidation of a dependent; or
  • Willful deprivation.

We will discuss the specific behaviors included in each of these terms below.    

What Constitutes “Physical Abuse” for the Purpose of Illinois Orders of Protection?

For the purposes of Illinois Orders of Protection, “physical abuse” includes:

  • Knowing or reckless use of physical force, confinement or restraint;
  • Knowing, repeated and unnecessary sleep deprivation;
  • Knowing or reckless conduct creating an immediate risk of physical harm;
  • Threatening with a weapon; or
  • Forcing someone to have unwanted sexual relations.

What Constitutes “Harassment” for the Purposes of Illinois Orders of Protection?

The definition of “harassment” for Illinois Orders of Protection is set forth by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act as behavior that meets all of the following criteria:

  1. Intentional conduct which is not necessary to accomplish a reasonable purpose under the circumstances;
  2. That would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress; and
  3. That does, in fact, cause the petitioner emotional distress.

Certain types of conduct are presumed to cause emotional distress:

  • Creating a disturbance at the protected party’s workplace or school;
  • Repeatedly calling the protected party’s work or home;
  • Repeatedly following the protected party in public;
  • Repeatedly remaining outside the protected party’s home, school, workplace or any other place occupied by the protected party;
  • Repeatedly peering into the protected party’s windows;
  • Improperly concealing the petitioner’s minor child;
  • Repeatedly threatening to remove the petitioner’s minor child from the jurisdiction or from the petitioner’s care or conceal the petitioner’s child, or making a single such threat after actually or attempting to do those things (unless the respondent was fleeing domestic violence); and
  • Repeatedly threatening physical force, confinement or restraint.  

 Other types of behaviors that have been found to be harassment include:

  • Yelling, calling names, using angry expressions, and breaking or throwing the protected party’s property;
  • Humiliating the protected party;
  • Accusing the protected party of infidelity;
  • Constant telephones or letters; and
  • Threats of suicide.   

What Constitutes “Interference with Personal Liberty” for the Purpose of Illinois Orders of Protection?

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act defines “Interference with personal liberty” as “committing or threatening physical abuse, harassment, intimidation, or willful deprivation so as to compel another to engage in conduct from which she or he has a right to abstain or refrain from conduct in which she or he has the right to engage.”  

Some examples of interference with personal liberty are isolating the petitioner from family and friends, restraining the petitioner through physical or manipulative means, and controlling the petitioner’s movements by monitoring them.  

What Constitutes “Intimidation of a Dependent” for the Purpose of Illinois Orders of Protection?

“Intimidation of a dependent” occurs when the respondent subjects an individual who is dependent because of age, health or disability to participation in or witnessing of physical force against another or physical confinement or restraint of another which constitutes “physical abuse” as defined above.  It does not matter whether the person being abused is a family member or household member of the petitioner or respondent.   

What Constitutes “Willful Deprivation” for the Purpose of Illinois Orders of Protection?

“Willful Deprivation” occurs when a protected party requires medication, medical care, shelter, food, a therapeutic device, or other physical assistance due to age health or disability and the respondent willfully denies the protected party of such necessities, exposing the protected party to harm.  The harm can be physical, mental or emotional.  Willful deprivation does not occur when the protected party has expressed an intent to forego the necessity of which he or she is being deprived.

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