NEW JERSEY (FOX 5 NEWS) - Fraidy Reiss grew up in an insular community in Brooklyn and was forced into an arranged marriage when she was just a teenager.
"There's nothing better than being able to take your own trauma and turn it into something positive and a way to help other people," she said. She is the founder and executive director of Unchained at Last.
"I was in an abusive arranged marriage when I was young, I was 19, and it was so difficult for me to get out and when I finally managed to get out after 12 years my family shunned me," she said. "They considered me dead. And after I managed to rebuild my life, realized that there are other women going through what I once went through and decided to found Unchained at Last to help them."
Unchained at Last is a nonprofit based out of New Jersey that helps girls and women escape from unwanted marriages. She is now celebrating what she considers a hard-earned victory. A bill, which just passed the state Assembly in a unanimous vote, would prohibit marriage under 18 in the state, no exceptions.
"We found in the state of New Jersey that the judges were granting marriages as young as 13," Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz said. She is the bill's prime sponsor who worked closely with Fraidy. They're hoping the bill will become law and then inspire other state legislatures to follow suit.
"Sometimes it's a marriage because of a religious reason, there may be a cultural reason, there are issues where there is an unwanted pregnancy," Muñoz said.
A very similar bill was introduced in New York last year, but never passed. Now that the bill has passed the Assembly in New Jersey, the next step would be for it to pass the state Senate before it can head to Gov. Chris Christie.