The Fear, The Terror

Cindy L. Bischof, 43, wore many hats. She was a realtor, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a colleague. And due to recent experiences in her life, she told family and friends she was considering putting on another hat. She was thinking of becoming a domestic violence advocate.

Cindy knew what domestic violence was like. She had been married, but her divorce was amicable and she remained close to her in-laws. Then she began dating. About three years ago she began dating 60 year old Michael L. Giroux. The two ended up moving in together and for a time things were good. But last year there were problems and the two decided to separate last May. And then more problems developed.

Bischof came home one day to find her home vandalized. She got a restraining order. She found Giroux on her patio one day trying to hang himself. He was arrested. She moved out of her home for a time, she had cameras installed. He showed up at her office and other places she went. Giroux was arrested for violating the protection order at least three times. At one point Giroux was reportedly in a psychiatric unit via a court order for several months, but he was released in Nov. At one point Cindy reportedly came home and found Giroux in her dark garage.

According to her brother

“This was eight months of terror,” “She had a constant fear for her life. She tried everything. The system failed my sister.”

In Nov. Giroux was also convicted of a violation of the protection order. He was sentenced to 63 days in jail, 60 days of home confinement and 2 years of intensive probation. Since then, things had been quieter. Cindy’s mother has told media that the end of Feb. her daughter did hear from Giroux. He called and apoligized for what he had done. Because the call appeared harmless, Cindy didn’t report it.

Giroux finished his term on home incarceration just this month. On Mar. 7 th Cindy Bischof was leaving work. As she tried to enter her car she was shot. After shooting her, Giroux turned the weapon on himself. Giroux was pronounced dead at the scene. Cindy Bischof was taken to a hospital where she later died.

Now her family and friends are left to pick up the pieces. And they remember what Cindy said about becoming a domestic violence advocate. Since she can no longer become an advocate, the family has decided to do it in her name. They are determined to become advocates on women’s issues and they are starting with the need for electronic monitoring in similar situations. They also want to make protection orders more effective, and try to come up with ways to make the victims safer as they try to get out of the situations.

According to her brother

“There are going to be a lot of people like Cindy, after Cindy, unless things change,” Mike Bischof said.

She asked for protective orders, she followed through, she got cameras for her home, she moved out of her home and stayed elsewhere. She did everything she could to help herself short of disappearing.

And the system actally worked as far as it goes. Police actually made the arrests. Prosecutors actively prosecuted the cases. Judges did impose sentences including jail time. He was even sent for a psychiatric evaluation. Still Cindy Bischof died.  This case, along with others, illustrate how desperately domestic violence laws need to be strengthened, and how new technology needs to be incorporated into the laws. Had electronic monitoring been made available, there would have been an alert to the fact that Giroux was in the vicinity of her workplace.

Cindy Bischof’s Memorial page and the beginning of the domestic violence foundation. If you live in Illinois and wish to help, they have listed contact information. If you live in another state and are thinking of doing something similar, you may wish to make contact also.

There is a lot of good information coming out in the above articles. For instance information about risk factors

Studies of women killed by an intimate partner have identified common traits among the perpetrators. Among them: access to a gun, previous threat with a weapon, estrangement from the partner, stalking, forced sex, abuse during pregnancy, drug abuse and unemployment.

“When individuals are unemployed or they start spiraling downward … then that’s a huge, huge red flag,”

In certain cases, however, no jail sentence — no matter how long — would dissuade someone from harming their intimate partner, experts say.

That’s why women who face abuse or harassment are encouraged to seek help outside the legal system. Domestic violence agencies can assist victims in creating comprehensive safety plans, which can include changing their name and even relocating.

Sometimes only the most extreme measure works, said Kathy Doherty, executive director of Between Friends, which provides legal advocacy to domestic abuse victims.

“We’ve helped some women disappear,” she said.

It doesn’t seem fair that the victim should have to be the one to change her lifestyle in order to survive. But until a better system is developed, it may be best to start  over somewhere new and make the changes, than to live with the fear and the terror or to not survive. And sometimes that is the only choices you have.

Meanwhile, there is a need to fight for stronger laws, better technology, more effective treatment for offenders.



  1. Becky J said,

    March 23, 2008 at 6:41 am

    This is a case that should make the president see things in a better light, all of those who want to fight this seemingly never ending battle PLEASE i beg of you all to write your congressmen, lawmakers and the president because President Bush is cutting funding to the violence against womens act and the family violence prevention fund, those things help fund community domestic violence needs, they fund programs and shelters to keep women and children safe, actually they will help men who are being victimized also, unlike many things in this world those who are helping fight domestic violence are not prejudice, we want to help everyone. I wonder why our president doesnt want to help domestic violence victims? Would he be more willing to fund these programs if his soon to be married daughter was a victim of domestic violence???? Lets all come together and ask him those questions…..

  2. Trey said,

    March 24, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Wow, what a tragedy. She did everything right in terms of using the legal system. Maybe they are not the answer. In terms of a disaster, the Japanese have great experiences due to their frequent earthquakes. They say depend on your self first, then your family, then your neighbor, then the neighborhood, then the city, then the county, etc. etc.

    This is not to blame this woman AT ALL. But I wonder if our government can protect us. Maybe the answer is to protect ourselves with a concealed carry permit. She should not have had to do this, but I wonder if it was her best option.

    Rest In Peace.

    God help us all.


  3. March 24, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Under the current system, a woman who kills a man who is assulting her, stands a good chance of being prosecuted for murder if she has had a relationship with the man. That is if the man doesn’t take the weapon away from her and kill her first.

  4. Trey said,

    March 27, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I guess I should have said that the person who is being stalked should receive training in using a gun, but I think that is necessary in most concealed carry permits. I do not trust the government to get much right, so it does not surprise me to hear your concerns about the government prosecuting a person who is defending him or herself.

    That does beg the question of why you would trust the government to protect you in the first place though. Why would I ask the governemnt to do more when I cannot trust them to do what they are already supposed to be doing? I do not ask the house painter who ruined my shed to paint my living room too. I either find another painter of paint it myself.

    I would prefer to face prosecution for murder than to leave my family without a dad. With a history of restraining orders and family and local police knowledge of the history of the stalking, that is a charge I would face.

    For me, it comes down to who I will trust to keep me safe, and given the failures that you mention, I think it behooves us all to be more proactive and personally responsible. You made your case well, the state is not doing their job.


  5. Molly said,

    March 27, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    My heartfelt sympathies go out to Ms.Bischof’s family and friends. I endured being terrorized by a mentally ill family member for years who threatened to kill me and my family. I know the fear. I know the frustration of the legal system not being able to protect me.

    In many states women living in terror because of a stalker or domestic abuse situation are encouraged by law enforcement to get adequate firearms training and a license to carry a firearm – In Ohio emergency licenses are issued to women who face life threatening danger like Ms. Bischof.

    It’s not a choice all women would make but women should have the freedom of choice when needing to protect themselves and their families.

    The notion of a weak woman having a firearm taken from her and used against her is a Hollywood myth that makes for good drama in the movies and soap operas but in real life women in 48 state are trained to protect themselves with a legally owned firearm.

    Ms. Bischof may not have chosen to carry a firearm but domestic abuse victims in Illinois should have the opportunity to make that choice for themselves.

    May God bless the memory of Cindy Bischof

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