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Cook County To Allow For Filing Of Orders Of Protection 24 Hours A Day, But Domestic Violence Survivor Advocates Say It's Not Enough

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Survivors of domestic violence in Cook County will soon be able to file for an order of protection anytime day or night.

But as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Thursday, advocates for those survivors said it is not enough.

Twenty people per minute are abused by a partner in the United States. Most of those victims - according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – are women, and they may eventually turn to the courts for help.

This week, Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans announced he is planning to make filing for an order of protection possible 24 hours a day. Victims' advocates said it is a good step – but also said it amounts to putting the cart before the horse.

"There are some very pressing issues that are impacting our clients' ability to access the court system right now," said Danielle Parisi Ruffatto.

Ruffatto is director at Ascend Justice, a legal aid group for gender-based and domestic violence victims. She said one concern is an Aug. 16 change to the time a protective order needs to be filed for a judge to hear a victim's case that same day.

Right now, it's 3 p.m. It is changing to 1 p.m., meaning an increased number of victims may need to wait more than a day – even multiple days – to get their emergency request before a judge.

"So asking someone to wait a day, or a weekend, is just unacceptable – because it might be jeopardizing their very safety," Ruffatto said.

An even bigger priority, advocates said, is allowing victims to continue attending court remotely, instead of having to go back in person – also beginning Aug. 16.

"A lot of times, just the idea of being face-to-face with a perpetrator for proceedings – that stops them from taking any kind of action," said violence recovery specialist Rida Shahzad.

She said in-person court appearances also mean abusers know where to find their victims.

"That's a big fear – because they always have to be on the watch – on the lookout – and they always have this fear that, 'OK, maybe he's going to come after me again,'" Shahzad said.

So is Chief Judge Evans considering making these adjustments before Aug. 16? His spokesperson said he would get back to Kozlov next week, because he wants to provide a thorough response.

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