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Illinois Gender Violence Act

The Illinois Gender Violence Act, 740 ILCS 82/1 et seq. (“IGVA”), enacted in 2004, protects victims of sexual violence by creating a private cause of action for them against the perpetrators of sexual violence with a long statute of limitations. Under the Act:

Any person who has been subjected to gender-related violence…may bring a civil action for damages, injunctive relief, or other appropriate relief against a person or persons perpetrating that gender-related violence. For purposes of this Section, “perpetrating” means either personally committing the gender-related violence or personally encouraging or assisting the act or acts of gender-related violence. 

“Violence” under the IGVA includes any “battery” under Illinois law. A “battery” in Illinois is the unauthorized touching of another person. Gender-related violence includes “one or more acts of violence or physical aggression satisfying the elements of battery under the laws of Illinois that are committed, at least in part, on the basis of a person’s sex,” and “a physical intrusion or physical invasion of a sexual nature under coercive conditions satisfying the elements of battery under the laws of Illinois.” 740 ILCS 82/5. Any sexual harassment involving unauthorized touching, or the threat of such, could create liability under the act.

The IGVA allows plaintiffs to seek a money award not only to compensate them for physical injury, but also emotional distress, together with possible punitive awards, attorney’s fees and costs. Under the Act, a potential claimant has 7 years to file an action based upon gender related violence as defined in paragraphs (1) or (2) of the IGVA. The fact that the nature of the damages under the IGVA is greater than other statutes, and the limitation period is longer, makes the IGVA a good vehicle to bring claims under.

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