Combating Domestic Violence in Affluent Families; Panel Unveils Serious Issue in Financially Upscale Communities

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An educational forum presented by the nation’s leading family law firm, Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, works to increase awareness and foster collaboration to support victims of abuse.

It is our hope that we have increased awareness of domestic violence in financially upscale families and that through collaboration professionals and the broader community will find ways to support victims of this abuse.

Victims of domestic violence are all around us. They serve as pillars of community involvement, share the same professional credentials, sit on the sidelines and watch their childrens sports and arts programs, and enjoy the quality of life that many affluent communities provide, but many of them are too afraid to share their story. That was the message delivered by a cross section of mental health and legal professionals at an educational forum presented by the family law firm of Schiller DuCanto & Fleck.

Domestic violence knows no social, economic or geographic boundaries. However, it is often an under-reported crime in most affluent communities. “Elevated socioeconomic status can make domestic violence more difficult to report,” acknowledges Bradley Bloom, Chief of Police for the Hinsdale Police Department. Hinsdale is in the top1% wealthiest towns in Illinois. “For many victims they don’t want to come forward because it serves as affirmation of the demise of their marriage,” added Gary J. Schira, Chief of Police for the City of Batavia, whose School District is ranked as one of the most educationally advanced systems in the State of Illinois. Nevertheless, both chiefs agree the stigma alone is a major deterrent to reporting the abuse.

Yet groundbreaking research confirms that domestic violence in affluent families is a grave and epidemic issue. “It’s important for society to take a new look at the scope of battering and how it affects “people like us” and encourage women, as well as abused men, to step forward and step off the path,” said Dr. Susan Weitzman. In sharing excerpts from her book, Not to People like Us: Hidden Abuse in Upscale Marriages, Dr. Weitzman noted many highly educated and upper-income battered women have been prisoners in their pampered communities.

“It is not our role to condemn nor to blame them, but to show them how to escape. Choice is a liberating possibility that gives them new direction, new hope, new options,” she adds.

The first step in the exit to safety plan is securing a civil order of protection. Consulting an attorney is advised, especially if the victim is considering a divorce.

Once in place, it is critically important if the protected party feels they have been violated they do three things, according to Mark A. Wirtz, an Associate with Schiller DuCanto and Fleck. First, call the police. Second, call the police. Third, call the police. First and foremost, it’s an issue of physical safety, he advised. In Illinois, the violator will be arrested and while in custody can do no harm. Wirtz also noted that evolving tools, such as geographic pointing devices have been effective in tracking violators and keeping victims safer in the state of Illinois.

In all, great strides have been made since the days when the abuser was told to “take a walk around the block and cool off” adds David H. Hopkins, Partner, Schiller DuCanto and Fleck, who has worked with the legal and legislative communities for the past 25 to shape the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. “In sponsoring this event, it is our hope that we have increased awareness of domestic violence in financially upscale families and that through collaboration professionals and the broader community will find ways to support victims of this abuse,” he added.

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Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP works with clients using a team approach to achieve the best possible results for those going through divorce and family transitions. The firm is the largest family law practice in the U.S and provides the most comprehensive legal resources available in this sensitive yet complex area of practice. Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP has offices in Chicago, Lake Forest and Wheaton, Illinois. Further information on the firm can be found at http://www.sdflaw.com/.

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Elizabeth Ferris

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