Prominent New Jersey Domestic Violence Activist Dies

Prominent New Jersey domestic violence activist Evelyn Jacobs Ortner died earlier this month. The Star-Ledger reports that the 83-year-old Ortner died of leukemia and is survived by her children and husband of 63 years.

“No one in the field of violence against women matched her intensity and drive on behalf of victims,” Richard Gelles, the dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice said.

Domestic violence is a very serious and emotional matter in which both victims and alleged perpetrators should seek experienced attorneys to prepare them to effectively tell their side of the story. Victims of domestic violence frequently seek out temporary restraining orders which can prevent an abuser from physically and verbally abusing them.

Ortner was a Short Hills resident who founded Unity Group, an organization that operated a home for battered women in Essex County. The home helped tackle the perception that domestic violence was an urban phenomenon, “There is a misconception with the general public that Short Hills would have no domestic violence. It is absolutely ubiquitous and pervasive in all communities,” Ortner said.

The Unity Group operated until 2003 when Ortner became sick. The assets of Unity Group were given to the University of Pennsylvania and helped start the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence, the Star-Ledger reports. The Ortner Center conducts research on domestic violence issues.

Susan Sorenson, director of the Ortner Center said, “She did such important work at a time when others were saying ‘we don’t have this problem in our neighborhoods.’ She was really focused on the fact that all women deserve a safe home and a loving family.”

Source: Star-Ledger, “Evelyn Jacobs Ortner, N.J. leader in fight against domestic violence, dies at 83,” Ben Horowitz, 3/6/11