City agencies partner to help survivors of gender-based violence

Group of representatives from multiple city agencies will advise mayor’s office on how to assist survivors of gender-based violence, including human trafficking and domestic violence.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on Tuesday a new advisory group to help support survivors of gender-based violence.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday that representatives from city agencies have formed a network that aims to support survivors of gender-based violence such as human trafficking and domestic violence.

The group, which kicked off Tuesday, will advise the mayor and other officials on supporting critical services for survivors, developing policies and improving coordination among group partners. 

“Gender-based violence is a growing challenge in our city that does not receive the attention it needs to be completely eradicated,” Lightfoot said in a statement Tuesday.

“Thanks to this advisory group, we will be able to address the underlying causes of this challenge, work together to create an ecosystem that works for survivors and push Chicago further towards becoming the safest big city in the country.”

Representatives in the advisory group come from the Department of Family and Social Service, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Housing, the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, the Commission on Human Relations, Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago. 

“By increasing our capacity to offer safe and trusted services for residents affected by violence, Chicago moves toward the goal of preventing anyone from experiencing tragedy at the hands of another individual,” DFSS Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler said in the statement.

“The more opportunities made available for residents to address violence, the more families and communities we can empower and equip with resources to thrive,” Butler said.

The advisory group plans to build on a project funded by the federal Office of Violence Against Women to improve the Chicago Police Department’s response to gender-based violence. The group will look into other departments to ensure survivors are met with housing, mental health services, education, legal services and workforce development support. 

In 2020, the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline, which is funded by Chicago DFSS, received 28,749 calls from survivors seeking safety, according to the statement from the mayor’s office. This number was a 17% increase since 2019.

The city’s 2021 budget also includes an increased investment of $2.5 million toward domestic violence services, the statement said.

“This effort will complement the City’s ongoing efforts to reduce gun violence by addressing a key root cause: domestic violence,” said Amanda Pyron, executive director of The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence and a member of the new advisory group.

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