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Supporting Crime Victims: Madeline Friedman

Madeline Friedman Student CarNever mind the “awful things” Friedman has dealt with daily during her recent internship with the Victim Services Unit of the Kings County District Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, where she’s mostly been handling domestic violence cases. “I grew up watching Law & Order—I’m an SVU person,” says Friedman, for whom this experience has literally been a dream come true. “I thought, ‘oh my God, this sounds like SVU.” 

Working side by side with the assistant district attorneys, Friedman relishes her responsibility as the “first line of support for the victims.” She’s learned how to take histories, provide some psychological education, attend court, and even become familiar with police reports, rap sheets, and the emergency housing shelter system. It’s certainly a different education from the one this sophomore’s receiving on Morningside Heights, where she’s considering majoring in history with a minor in psychology.

As part of the internship, Friedman received 70 hours of training her first two weeks on the job, “with a lot of education on the legal system, Criminal Justice 101, Grand Jury 101—I did not know half the stuff I needed to know.” Then again, as the daughter of a lawyer and a social worker who was raised in Roslyn, Long Island, perhaps it’s not so surprising that Friedman gravitated to this office, which links social work to the prosecutor’s office.

As a camp counselor Friedman was unfazed at her young charges’ various injuries, but she acknowledges that “it’s not the same as when someone shows you where they were stabbed. I feel stronger about what I’d be doing.”

Friedman has been impressed by the role models she’s seen at both Barnard and in the VSU. “At Barnard and working in this office, where the unit is almost all female, I’m with strong women,” she says. “They stay calm and composed.” She hopes to “get more experience, either in the DA’s office or somewhere else,”—including possibly returning to the VSU office during winter break-- with the ultimate goal of pursuing a law degree as well as one in social work. “I had never done social work before,” says Friedman. “Having a social work background as a lawyer is very useful. I’m definitely interested in pursuing a career in the criminal justice system. I’m going to see what happens next.”

—Merri Rosenberg '78