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(NYT) — For any first-time visitor, Cook County’s Domestic Violence Courthouse — with its unmarked hallways and frequently abandoned information desk — presents a navigational challenge. For an abuse victim, who may be terrified and injured, the blank walls and empty corridors are just the first bewildering step in a long, convoluted and impersonal process.

Many who seek protection from an abuser come to this West Loop building and muddle through alone, but a few are assigned court advocates — largely by luck of the draw — who translate legal jargon and literally stand up for victims during court proceedings. Now, as Springfield’s budget cuts threaten human services statewide, those advocacy programs are at risk.

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