Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation Makes Grant Possible
Norma Peterson, Executive Director, Document The Abuse
AURORA, IL, USA, June 16, 2022. The Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation (AWEF) has awarded Document The Abuse a grant to help fund its programs and resources, featuring the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit (EAA). Document The Abuse houses the EAA on its website DocumentTheAbuse.com. The EAA helps victims to document any type of abuse in a meaningful way and is also a valuable resource for those who advocate on a victim’s behalf.
Although a relatively new nonprofit, Norma Peterson, Executive Director, Document The Abuse, has been connecting Aurorans and others to the EAA since 2015 and worked alongside Susan Milano, domestic violence awareness advocate and author of the book “Time’s Up,” which included the original, written version of the EAA. Susan passed away in 2012. In recent years, Norma has taken up Susan’s work on her own, bringing it forward in new ways that can help even more people.
Norma’s passion for helping victims of abuse was ignited when her sister-in-law, Stacy Peterson from Bolingbrook, Illinois was reported missing, prompting the investigation into the accidental death of Kathleen Savio, who had previously been married to Drew Peterson, Stacy’s husband. For years, Kathleen Savio told anyone who would listen that Drew Peterson might hurt her. Tragically, when she turned up dead in a bathtub in 2004, her death was ruled an accident. But when Peterson’s new wife, Stacy, disappeared—everything changed. Suddenly, renewed attention was given to Savio’s marriage and to the statements she’d made to friends, family, and even the police. This consequently brought renewed scrutiny upon Drew Peterson, a former police officer in Bolingbrook, Illinois who had three additional failed marriages. He was arrested for Savio’s murder in May 2009, convicted of killing Savio in 2012, and sentenced to 38 years in prison. Stacy Peterson is still missing; Drew Peterson, who is still incarcerated, remains a suspect.
“For years Norma Peterson has been removing barriers and helping abuse victims by making the EAA available online and at no cost,” said Amy Baudouin, Board Chair, Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation. “We believe in Norma. We believe in Document The Abuse. We believe in the power of the EAA and the training Norma provides on its use to help people safely and securely document domestic abuse cases. And we’re pleased that Document The Abuse has become a recognized nonprofit so that others can also support their important work which, sadly, is needed now more than ever before.”
Experts report that stress, and the inability to cope with it effectively, is at the root of many domestic abuse occurrences. And the number of outside events that can produce stress are on the rise—increased number of domestic terrorism acts, water and food insecurities, financial fallout from the pandemic, and the threat of another world war—may all contribute to a rise in domestic abuse occurrences. And while the number of domestic abuse cases in the US is strikingly higher than in years past, the actual number of cases is much higher than what is reported. Data on domestic violence is particularly difficult to study given that many victims do not report the crimes to police or their pleas are not taken seriously
If someone is being abused, typically their options are to: 1) report it, which requires great bravery from the victim and action by the authorities is only taken with clear visual evidence; 2) go to a shelter; 3) get a restraining order, which is usually only granted with evidence of the abuse; 4) move away; 5) stay with someone else; or 6) pursue stalking laws, which are often weak and poorly defined.
“Most options available do not help the victim to document their situation and specifics of the abuse or the abuser,” said Norma Peterson, Executive Director, Document The Abuse. “Outside of a police report or restraining order, documentation has still not occurred. In case of future serious injury, the victim goes missing or is killed, and rarely does any information exist to link them to their story. The Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit changes this. But it’s vital that we connect people to this resource so we can help empower them to change their environment.”
Document The Abuse is currently working with several Aurora-area social service agencies, law enforcement and legal executives, city officials, as well as area businesses and trade associations to raise community awareness not only for the EAA but to help people better understand domestic abuse.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, anyone can be an abuser. “They come from all groups, all cultures, all religions, all economic levels, and all backgrounds. They can be your neighbor, your pastor, your friend, your child’s teacher, a relative, a coworker — anyone. It is important to note that the majority of abusers are only violent with their current or past intimate partners.” One study found 90% of abusers do not have criminal records and abusers are generally law-abiding outside the home. For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now.
To learn more about Document The Abuse and the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit, including how to access it from your computer click here or visit DocumentTheAbuse.com.
The Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation mission is to elevate and empower Aurora-area women and future women by making grants to tax-exempt nonprofits engaged in meaningful, measurable work that helps women over the hurdles of inequity and exclusion, propelling them forward with life-changing programs and services. For more information about grants made by AWEF, including our grant guidelines and online application, visit awe-foundation.org.
Document The Abuse has been providing programs and resources for victims of abuse since 2015. In 2022 it became an Illinois charitable nonprofit and applied for 501(c)(3) status. The nonprofit houses the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit (EAA) on its website, which helps victims to document any type of abuse in a meaningful way. The EAA can be accessed at DocumentTheAbuse.com. In addition to making the EAA available to all at no cost, Document The Abuse provides training programs to help raise awareness of and educate others on how to use the EAA. In addition to supporting victims of abuse, the EAA is a valuable resource for anyone who advocates on a victim’s behalf. To learn more about Document The Abuse and the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit, including how to access it from your computer click here or visit DocumentTheAbuse.com.