SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- New legislation could expand no-contact restraining orders in Illinois to include stalking over text message or social media.
Under current Illinois law, the no-contact order means no in-person contact of any kind. Yet, it doesn’t include electronic communication.
Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) said if a victim placed a restraining order against their perpetrator, legally that couldn’t stop them from contacting you over the phone. That means a stalker could harass their victim online without facing consequences.
“Once a no contact order is in place, no one should have to worry about whether they’re going to get threatening texts or posts on Facebook,” said Bush.
Small change, large impact
Bush said while the legislation offers a small change to the original law, it will have a large impact on communities. She stressed that technology is the new way to stalk someone and Illinois needs to be on top of it.
“You cannot weaponize electronic technology to frighten and or, you know, stalk someone,” said Bush. “Everything’s changed out there, but electronics are not a way to stalk someone or go after someone.”
Perpetrators also wouldn’t be able to message their victim through a friend or family member. Bush said in most cases, judges can prohibit electronic communication under the no-contact order. However, it’s not a requirement.
She explained it’s scary to think there’s nothing stopping a perpetrator from sending threatening messages over text or online.
“I think someone knows when contact is unwanted, and for anyone that pursues that contact after it’s unwanted, you know, you’re doing something wrong.”
Streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu feature shows like ‘You’ that romanticize aspects of internet stalking and obsessive texting. When asked, Bush had her own thoughts on these types of shows.
“How about, creepy and scary,” said Bush. “I cannot believe that it’s being romanticized.”
Bush’s bill advanced out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee earlier this week. It now awaits a vote on the Senate floor.
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March 19, 2021 at 07:45PM