CHICAGO (CBS) — In light of this week’s murder of a pregnant woman by her husband in Woodridge, a domestic violence expert said abuse victims need a safe escape plan.
Woodridge police said 24-year old April Pryor was seven months pregnant when she and her other two children moved into the apartment of another woman several days ago. Her estranged husband, Shedrick Pryor, tracked her down Monday night. He killed her, shot another woman in the home, and then committed suicide.
Rebecca Darr, CEO of WINGS Program, Inc., which provides support services for domestic violence victims, said it’s important for victims to come up with an escape plan that does not include going to stay with friends or relatives, because that makes it easier for their abuser to find them.
“The most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is when they’re trying to leave their abuser. The abuser knows they’ve lost control over this person, and they’ll do whatever it takes to that control back,” Darr said. “People who are trying to get out of a domestic violence situation, and they don’t know where to turn, going to family members or friends is often a very dangerous option.”
According to Darr, domestic violence shelters are a much safer alternative, and offer additional services to help victims; including filing for a legal order of protection, and getting counseling for dealing with the abuse they have suffered.
“If she goes to a safe house or a domestic violence shelter, those are staffed 24 hours, 7 days a week. There’s security systems, there’s cameras, and they’re in locations that the addresses are not published,” she said.
WINGS operates two domestic violence shelters; one in Chicago, the other in the northwestern suburbs.
Darr acknowledged, in some cases, victims cannot be certain they’ll ever be safe, but she said there are ways to increase their chances of escaping safely. As part of that plan, Darr said women will be advised to gather important documents from their home, such as birth certificates, to be ready for when they actually leave.
She advised domestic violence victims to call the state’s toll-free hotline to set up a plan to escape their violent home situation without being hurt. The number is 877-TO-END-DV (877-863-6338).