A video has emerged of the ex-wife of Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder giving chilling details of the domestic violence she suffered at his hands. The serious allegations made have caused several Republican Senators to rethink their commitment to vote yes on Puzder’s confirmation. Between four and twelve Republicans will not vote to confirm Puzder, which would be enough to block his confirmation.
Lisa Fierstein appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1990 wearing a disguise because, at the time, she was terrified by his threats after she spoke publicly about their divorce. Puzder told her, “I will see you in the gutter. This will never be over. You will pay for this.”
Fierstein assumed the name Ann and wore a wig and glasses on “Oprah.” She confided that after suffering through fourteen years of an abusive marriage her life was devastated during the divorce proceedings. Fierstein explained,
“I wound up losing everything, everything. I have nothing. He has a Porsche and a Mercedes-Benz. He has the home. He has everything. He was an attorney, and he knew how to play the system.”
Fierstein did not discuss her allegations of physical violence beyond remarks that, “Most men who are in positions like that don’t leave marks. The damage that I sustained you can’t see. It’s permanent. … They don’t hit you in the face. They’re too smart. They don’t hit you in front of everyone.”
However, in 1988 Fierstein had filed a petition seeking $350,000 in damages on the grounds that Puzder “assaulted and battered [Fierstein] by striking her violently about the face, chest, back, shoulders, and neck.”
The petition continued to detail lasting injuries that Fierstein suffered, saying that she suffered, “bruises and contusions to the chest, back, shoulders, and neck.” Additionally, “All of the muscles, bones, ligaments and soft tissue in the face, chest, back, neck, and shoulders were violently wrenched, strained, swollen, contused, and otherwise injured. [Fierstein suffered] two ruptured discs and two bulging discs.”
The petition was arguing that Fierstein needed compensation for the past and future medical expenses since many of her injuries caused permanent damage. However, the judge threw it out because the divorce proceedings had already happened.
More details may emerge as a petition has been filed to unseal Puzder and Fierstein’s divorce proceedings. Puzder apologists have tried to throw Fierstein’s allegations into question but it is hard to question her heart-wrenching testimony on “Oprah,” despite later comments that she regretted appearing on the show.
Domestic violence advocate Charlotte Fedders said this week, “I totally believe that [Fierstein] was abused. Powerful men have a way of convincing you that they didn’t do it. I do believe that she was abused.”
It looks like violence against women is being taken seriously enough to block a known abuser from taking a powerful government position. There is a still long way to go – many Senators are still willing to confirm Puzder. But activists should take heart that the violence Fierstein suffered is being noticed and prioritized.
Watch the video here, courtesy of POLITICO:
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.