Governor Pritzker Signs Legislation Expanding Protections for Survivorsof Sexual Violence Serving in the Military

Government and Politics

May 20, 2022

From: Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker

CHICAGO — On May 19th, Governor JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 257, a nation-leading piece of legislation that expands protections for survivors of sexual violence in the military.

“For far too long, our servicemembers who’ve survived sexual violence have not had the protection they deserve. And far too often, sexual violence in the military goes underreported due to inadequate support and fears of retaliation,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “That’s why this bill expands protections for survivors beyond the workplace. Illinois will continue to lead by example—prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of our survivors, while holding perpetrators accountable. I am thankful to Senator Munoz and Representative Kifowit for their partnership in providing survivors of sexual violence with the support, compassion, and justice they deserve.”

“Everyone has the right to be and feel safe at work, at home, and in their communities. Prioritizing support for our women veterans and expanding protections for survivors of sexual violence is how we uplift that mission, and this landmark legislation shows that we stand with them,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “As chair of the Military Economic Development Committee, I am proud of this critical step in the work to show compassion and support for those who valiantly serve.”

“As a U.S. Army veteran, I understand the importance of protecting the members of our armed forces,” said Assistant Majority Leader Tony Munoz (D-Chicago). “This new law will help fight sexual and domestic violence within the military to protect airmen, marines and soldiers across Illinois. I’m proud of the work and dedication from legislators and stakeholders that allowed us to work together to protect the people who serve our country.”

“I am a proud U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and as a woman who has served, I am also acutely aware of the struggles the military has faced addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment within its ranks,” said State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora). “This legislation gives both the military and the state another tool to combat this problem. The Governor signing this legislation into Law sends a strong message that victims of military sexual assault will be protected, and Illinois has another tool to combat this serious problem.  It was an honor to sponsor this legislation in the House.”

"This bill strengthens our efforts to end sexual assault and sexual harassment within the U.S. military and the Illinois National Guard and ensures we can more effectively protect Illinois service members." said Major General Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois, and Commander of the Illinois National Guard. "The work of the State Legislature and Governor Pritzker to pass and sign this bill is a signal of their tremendous support for our Soldiers and Airmen and our on-going effort to protect our service members from sexual and domestic violence."

“This law provides Illinois National Guard sexual assault survivors the opportunity to feel empowered knowing they have the opportunity to be legally protected while in uniform as service members and as citizens of Illinois,” said Alanna Wood, Illinois National Guard Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.  I am so proud to be able to tell survivors about this law and offer them another resource in their journey after experiencing trauma.”

“ICASA supports changes to Illinois law that provide additional protections for survivors of sexual assault serving in the military and enhanced enforcement of protective orders issued by military tribunals,” said Carrie Ward, CEO of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “ICASA promotes broad access to all available services and options for survivors in their respective communities.” 

Senate Bill 257 extends the authority of military protection orders beyond military locations. This would provide survivors with full protection, regardless of where they are located and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. Survivors would also be provided with added employment protections as they recover.

Members of the Illinois National Guard have a unique dual role in every community, serving their state, their country, and maintaining robust civilian lives. Under this legislation, if a service member is a survivor or victim of sexual violence, they will be protected as both service members and members of the community where they live their civilian lives. 

Since Governor Pritzker took office, he has delivered on a commitment to providing survivors of sexual violence with the protections and resources necessary for recovery. His administration has undertaken efforts to ensure that military sexual trauma victims and survivors are extended the same rights and protections as civilian sexual assault victims and survivors. This work has involved establishing relationships with civilian sexual assault prevention and response organizations to create an optional reporting system outside the National Guard and improving education efforts so that victims and survivors of military sexual assault are aware of available programs and services.

This legislation is effective immediately.