Legally Speaking: Lisa Little

Legally Speaking: Lisa Little

As a young girl in Champaign, LISA LITTLE listened as her mother answered Champaign County's first domestic-violence hotline one night a week on the home phone.

Don't be misled by her last name. Today, Little is a force to be reckoned with as a court advocate for women seeking judicial protection from abusers.

She sat down with staff writer Mary Schenk to talk about the nature of domestic violence and her work with Urbana-based Courage Connection, a social-service agency that caters to victims abused by people they once loved.

Here are a few highlights from their conversation.

Is all domestic violence violent?

"A great deal of intimate partner abuse is about the emotional and psychological abuse — the controlling, the stalking with technology, the insults — and going through people's phones.

"Those types of things that really aren't illegal but are extremely harrassing and get in the way of living your daily life."

Why would any woman tolerate being abused, physically or mentally?

"Leaving is a process. It's not an event. Many people think an incident happens, she's done, she's gone, everything ends at that point. But for survivors, there are so many other things to think about.

"And at the bottom, she's not in that relationship because she hates him. She loves him. There's still love there we have to deal with, and the guilt. Most victims have been led to believe the abuse is their fault, so getting through that mindset" can be difficult.

Who are these abusers? Do they fit a profile?

"Anybody. Domestic violence knows no economic, racial, demographic, global boundaries. It is the same prevalence with wealthy families as with poor families, educated and uneducated, rural and urban.

"It doesn't matter. It's 1 in 4 women. It's 1 in 4 relationships."

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