*Domestic violence may present a tough challenge to overcome, but Judge Jeanine Pirro is leading the charge to help those affected by providing a link to options and resources available on the course to reclaiming a better life.
The former Westchester County, NY district attorney has partnered with the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH )and utilized her popular television show, “Judge Pirro,” and web site (www.judgejp.com), in an effort to let male and female victims that “there is hope and there is help.” The NDVH is a national non-profit organization that provides crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families.
“When women make the decision that they realize that they need help, the most important thing they can have is information. Especially if they make a decision to leave, that can be the most dangerous time,” the NDVH celebrity board member explained to EUR’s Lee Bailey. “What we’re trying to do, through both my show and as well as through speeches around the country, is tell women out there that there is help and it’s just a phone call away.”
Pirro’s work with the NDVH is the latest development in a longstanding crusade that started during her days as a prosecutor who is credited with starting the nation’s first domestic violence unit in 1978. Bringing the issue to light presented a new challenge for the Emmy-nominated TV court judge as claims of domestic violence received a doubtful reception among lawmakers.
“Few, if any people, bothered with even the concept of domestic violence. Many thought it wasn’t criminal, that it was a social problem and not a criminal justice problem,” Pirro recalled. “When I started as a prosecutor, a man could shoot, stab, beat or brutalize his wife with no consequences. A woman could not charge her husband with rape. These were not considered crimes. There was a flawed notion that violence and rape in the home were beyond the reach of the law, protected by a family’s right to privacy.”
“That began a long crusade for me where my mantra and my mission as a young prosecutor and then as a district attorney and an elected judge was to make a level playing field for women and men who are victims of domestic violence as well,” the legal commentator/author continued. “Our country for years has kind of hidden this stuff, shoved it under the rug and said ‘You know. This isn’t the kind of thing we need to get involved in. It’s so bad she’ll leave.’ People don’t realize that the reason women stay is because of the children.
In addition to their children, Pirro cited the belief of many female domestic violence victims who hope that “that he won’t do it again” as another reason for staying in abusive relationships. “Or maybe he has threatened to kill her if she leaves. It’s all about power and control…That’s why on the “Judge Jeanine Pirro” show, we are referring litigants to the domestic violence hotline. I have a link on my website, judgejp.com, to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. So this is something that has been very personal and a passion for me for decades.”
While efforts have been made over the years to legally combat domestic violence, Pirro maintains there is still work to do as she referenced the infamous encounter involving R&B/pop singer Rihanna at the hands of her then-boyfriend, Chris Brown.
“My fear is that today women are losing ground, that the Chris Brown and the Rihanna case in particular, is a case that where, I think, at Boston University, 50% of the students there thought that she was at fault, that she provoked it. And that scares me,” Pirro said.
“That tells me that there may be a shift, that we’re not as passionate as we were and that women are starting to accept this as the norm. Dating abuse. One out of five young women is the victim of dating violence and a lot of them don’t even know that it is wrong.”
As a leader in the fight against domestic violence, Pirro has also joined forces with various organizations, along with the NDVH and teenrespect.org to further her goal of keeping the issue in the minds of the public. To the mother of two, the importance of keeping “the message going” cannot be taken for granted.
“A lot of women suffer in silence. They don’t think that anything can be done and they are scared to death,” she stated, while emphasizing the need to highlight the dangers of being in a domestic violence situation via safety tips and action plans incorporated into the new season of the “Judge Pirro” show.
“The public has to be educated about domestic violence. Every time a victim is ignored, or a criminal goes unpunished, or violence is excused, our society erodes further. It becomes harder, meaner, and more violent,” Pirro added. “Without redress, victims become despairing and embittered; often they exact their price by victimizing others. We all understand the cycle of violence.”
For more information on domestic violence, visit www.judgejp.com or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
Viewers of the “The Judge Pirro Show” can also register for a chance to win $1,000 by logging onto www.judgejp.com and answer the question about the cases featured on the show that day. Correct answers to the questions will be entered into a daily drawing to win the money. The last day to enter $1,000 giveaway is Friday (Nov. 19).