What is Deirdre's House?
Deirdre's House is the Center in Morris County for child victims of abuse and/or neglect and for children that have witnessed domestic violence.
Established in 1994, Deirdre's House is the only site in Morris County where a child victim can be interviewed and digitally recorded by law enforcement, medically examined and treated by a pediatric abuse specialist, prepared for trial, and clinically counseled in English or Spanish----all under one roof. As a nationally accredited Child Advocacy Center (CAC), Deirdre's House provides a comprehensive multidisciplinary team response to allegations of child abuse in a dedicated, safe, secure, child friendly setting. Morris County’s multidisciplinary team approach is a collaboration of Deirdre's House and
- Law Enforcement
- Child Protective Services
- Medical and Mental Health Professionals
- Victim Advocates
- Social Service Providers
What does Deirdre's House mean to a child victim?
It means that a child victim will not have to be interviewed and processed at a police station, examined in a hospital emergency room, and counseled at yet another location. It means that an already badly traumatized child will not be retraumatized by the very system that is trying to assist them. It means that free, state of the art care is available on an immediate basis, because the longer a child victim waits for treatment the less likely they are to fully recover from the trauma they have experienced. Most importantly, it means that a child’s life may be altered by abuse, but not defined by it.
A message from Jim O’Brien:
Jim and Georgia O’Brien, parents of Deirdre O’Brien, have worked tirelessly to advocate for crime victims for over 20 years. Jim served as a Morris County Freeholder, and served on the Deirdre's House Board of Trustees until appointed by Gov. Whitman to serve as Chairman of the Victims of Crime Compensation Board in 1996, shortly after Deirdre's House opened. He rejoined the Board in 2001 and has been an integral member since.
Georgia became a volunteer at the Center and was later appointed to the Board of Trustees, serving as secretary. She then became Board President and served in that post for 3 years. Today she is still on the Board as a non-voting member. In October of 1996, the Board of Directors of the Center for Evaluation and Counseling honored Georgia for her courage and advocacy work for victims of crime, mainly in the area of child abuse.
My daughter Deirdre was a talented artist. She graduated from Seton Hall University where she majored in Art History. In 1982, at the age of 25, Deirdre was abducted, raped and murdered by a serial murderer. Her killer was caught, convicted and sentenced to two 30 year terms in state prison.
In the winter of 1994, then Prosecutor Michael Murphy and Assistant Prosecutor Karin Kelly-Weisert approached me regarding the possibility of opening a Child Advocacy Center to serve the children of Morris County. I was at the time a member of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the president of the Statewide Coalition of Crime Victims. They presented a plan for a child advocacy center for abused children and asked me for help in securing a location for the center. With the cooperation of the Freeholder Board, the county purchased the house at 8 Court St. in Morristown and gave a long term lease to the newly formed non-profit center. Shortly after, the Freeholders asked my family to allow the center to be named after Deirdre in honor of our work on behalf of the victims of crime in NJ. After securing $100,000 in much needed donations to renovate 8 Court St., the Center was opened in April of 1996 with then Gov. Christie Whitman officiating at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Our doors have been open for over 10 years and we have served more than 13,000 of Morris County’s child victims.