On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, Pace Law School’s Women’s Justice Center was featured in a page 1 story in the Journal News today. The article described the Center’s important work in the community through profiles of two of its past clients–a survivor of domestic violence, and a man whose elderly mother was being mistreated by her caretakers.
The Women’s Justice Center is celebrating its 20th anniversary at its annual dinner on Wednesday. Over the past two decades, the Center has expanded significantly, and now runs two walk-in clinics — in Yonkers and White Plains — with a team of volunteers providing legal services to domestic-violence and elder-abuse victims.
“It’s really grown,” said Jane Aoyama-Martin, the center’s executive director. “Society has realized that this is a problem and needs to be addressed.”
Aoyama-Martin estimated that the center has helped more than 20,000 people since it began providing legal services 11 years ago. The center, funded by government grants and private donations, manages roughly 2,800 cases each year. About 70 percent of its workload is direct legal services to abuse victims.
The survivor of domestic violence whose story in told in this article (called by a pseudonym, “Lee”), describes turning to the Women’s Justice Center for help in ending 15 years of psychological and physical abuse by her emotionally disturbed husband.
“From the very moment that I needed help, I had this network, this group of women around me that protected me, that watched out for me,” she said. “They made me feel like I could go on.”
When “Lee” entered the Women’s Justice Center’s walk-in center in White Plains, an intake staffer took her to a lawyer who spent hours listening to her saga, then explaining the legal steps she could take.
“I had no idea how it would affect me, my kids or my unstable husband,” she said. “It was very difficult, but they were sensitive. They were caring. They understood. They educated me.”
Lee returned home with a protective order and a police escort. Her husband left and their divorce battle began, a process Lee described as “years of torment” with threats, harassment and lies. She praised her divorce lawyer, White Plains attorney Tamara Mitchel, for helping her through it all.
“She is my angel,” Lee said. “She helped me become the woman I am today, someone who’s a lot stronger and a lot more conscientious. She is responsible for my girls and I being together intact, as a family.”
Read the full article here.