Tuesday, 29 August 2017

I'll Handle This. There's NO Problem Here...

It is not clear when the first call to the police came. 

Good luck and some sloppiness by police, who tend to be deferential to celebrities in Los Angeles, allowed Simpson and his PR men to keep the ugly scenes out of the press. 

But from reports leaked last June, it's clear that Simpson shattered the windshield of Nicole's car with a baseball bat sometime in 1985. When the police arrived, Simpson blithely waved them away. "It's my car," he reportedly said. "I'll handle this. There's no problem here."

The now infamous 911 call at 3.30am on New Year's Day 1989 was harder to cover up. Nicole ran screaming from the house in her bra, yelling, "He's going to kill me! He's going to kill me!" Clinging to a policeman, she bitterly complained that she had called the police "eight times," but "you never do anything about him, you talk to him and then leave."

Simpson appeared outside, yelling, "I got two women and I don't want that woman in my bed anymore!" Then he tried to talk the cops out of arresting him. "You've been out eight times before and now you're going to arrest me for this?" he scoffed.

The police pointed to the bruises and cuts on his wife's face and told him to get dressed. Instead, he fled in his Bentley.

Simpson eventually admitted to a "mutual wrestling-type altercation" and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of spousal battery, for which he received a wrist-slap fine and a brief stint of community service. He wanted to avoid a trial; the photos of a battered Nicole would not look good in the tabloids.

Life returned to normal, if his life can be called that.

Hertz kept him on a spokesman after Nicole, who had not wanted to press charges, told Hertz executives, "This is a case of the media picking on a celebrity. We've never been more in love." Friends chose to forget.

An Orange County battered-women's advocate, Sandy Condello, knew about the incident, but she still asked O.J. if he would appear at a celebrity golf tournament to raise money for the cause. "He seemed genuinely appalled" by wife abuse, said Condello, "and so cordial and so charming." 

It was a triumph of denial. He offered to help though - significantly, perhaps - never did.

The Double Life of O.J. Simpson for Newsweek Magazine
August 29 1994

Monday, 12 June 2017

He's Going to Kill Me - Believe Me!

"Shipp, I'm a fugitive. Nicole and I had a little argument last night." 

OJ asked me to check with West LA Division cops to see if there was a warrant for his arrest. He said, "Ron, I'm going to need you to help me get back in Nicole's good graces."

Shocked as to what he was saying to me over the phone, I couldn't help but think of all the rumors I heard about him beating up Marguerite Simpson, his first wife.

I reflected back on one day when I was teaching my domestic violence class at the Academy, and I mentioned several celebrities whose names were part of our lesson plan. One of the officers asked me, "Hey, Shipp, how come your friend OJ isn't on the list?"

My answer to that officer was, "OJ is not a batterer."

I left West LA Station at four o'clock in the afternoon and arrived at Rockingham ten minutes later. I pushed the buzzer to the intercom and with no words said, the electronic gate slowly opened. Nicole walked out of the front door with a smile on her face. I followed her to the television/entertainment room, and she sat down on the couch. I sat across from her.

She looked at me with an expression that I had never seen on her face. It was the look of a frightened, sad little girl. She didn't have to say a word. I was looking at the makeup that barely covered up the bruises on her face.

She whimpered, "Ron, he did it to me this time, and I don't want to be married to him anymore." She began crying. For a moment, I sat there and stared at her. I didn't know what to say or do. I had never seen her cry, and she totally caught me off guard.

Seeing the wife of a man that I loved and admire battered, crying, and looking to me for help left me speechless.

I awkwardly reached out and hugged her. She buried her head on the right side of my chest, crying uncontrollably. I found it difficult to speak. After about thirty seconds, she became rigid and pulled away from me. She looked at me, smiled and apologized. Nicole removed a pack of Marlboros from her white shorts and lit up a cigarette.

She told me that OJ called her and asked if he could home. She said she did not want him to come back. I told her about what OJ said to me the day before, that it was an isolated incident and that he me to help him get back with her.

"Isolated incident? Is that what he told you?" she responded. She jumped up off the couch and said she had something to show me and headed upstairs.

A couple of minutes later she came back down, carrying a manila envelope. "I want to show you something, but you have to swear you'll never tell anybody about them." I promised her that I wouldn't tell a soul. "I've never shown these to anybody," she confided, handing me abut half a dozen photographs, one at a time. They were close-ups of various parts of her body, deeply bruised, black and blue.

"Ron, I took these and said to myself, if he ever hit me again, I would give these to the National Enquirer. I want him to hurt the way he hurt me."

I finally believed OJ was a batterer.

Nicole continued to tell me that OJ had also pulled a gun on her. Once again, I observed the frightened, sad little girl expression on her face as she spoke. Her voice was trembling as she said, "Ron, I'm scared, I truly believe he's going to kill me."

I looked in her eyes, saying, "Nicole, no way OJ Simpson is going to kill you. OJ will never lay a hand on you again." I grabbed her hand and walked with her to OJ's trophy case.

"Nicole, see that Heisman Trophy, the NFL rushing title trophy, pictures with President Nixon, President Ford, and his collections of historical memorabilia? That's priceless. I don't think OJ Simpson would give all this up to kill you."

"Ron you don't know him," she whimpered.

The Heart Behind The Badge
Ron Shipp

Monday, 1 May 2017

Searching for the Truth. A Toxic Legacy.

Different light
Things that I once thought were right
Are now reflected in a different light...

Look at the picture below and tell me what you think.

Do you see a fashionable young couple on the brink of an exciting future together and with all the world before them?

Clutching a prayer book in a dainty gloved hand, the bride snuggles up close to her dashing groom and with her arm firmly enclosed within his, she strikes a confident pose as the lens captures her determined smile.

But what of the groom? 

As we catch a glimpse of his wedding band, we also detect a mild look of annoyance and notice that a brisk September wind has played havoc with his carefully styled hair and we wonder if this could explain his self conscious posture.

You may disagree with me entirely on this which is your right but however you look at it; I can only look upon this poignant image knowing only that if it were not for me, this wedding would never have happened.

I was born less than six months later to these teenage parents who were still children themselves and I have been their hostage to fortune ever since.

And if, the story of my life had been like a film in which I could hit the 'pause' or 'fast forward' buttons at will, I would press the 'rewind' button to the morning of this wedding and choose a different ending; one in which he and she were allowed to go their separate ways and I to a family who wanted me.

My sister once described me as the quintessential 'love child' which is truly hilarious when I think about it  for I had a mother who was either frequently angry, indifferent or critical and who took pleasure in telling me that her problem was that she loved me 'too much'

 It has taken me years of soul-searching to figure out just how the hell can a parent love a child 'too much' and I'm still none the wiser.

And from my father, I met only with more anger, more indifference and even more criticism; but at least he never wasted his time or insulted my intelligence with the 'I love you too much' claptrap.

They parted ways with great acrimony only a day or so before my 10th birthday and even though both began a new life with someone else soon after and other children appeared; neither would or could 'let go' of the other and I became their weapon of choice in the ensuing fight, the symbol of their toxic union, the catalyst for that disastrous marriage.

As there has been so much angst, I could write my own definitive version of one of the longest novels ever published, the aptly titled War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy but as I have neither the time nor you the patience to wade through it; I will share a couple of gems with you from the family treasure chest.

My 16th birthday gift from my father was the court summons he served on my mother as he didn't want to contribute another penny for my upkeep, even though I had yet to leave school and although he was humiliated in court, he remained true to his word and never did give me another penny - ever!

He couldn't even dig into his pocket to buy me a gift on my wedding day.

Even though I hadn't wanted him to share in my special day, I invited him and his wife as to have not done so would have caused my grandparents enormous pain and this was the last thing I ever wanted.

I can remember arriving to see my father standing there with a flower in his lapel but it wasn't the Yorkshire Rose that I had arranged for him to wear but a different one and having asked his wife about it later that day; I was told that he had thrown my rose in the bin. 

Or the time before my seventh birthday when he was driving us home at great speed and as my mother screamed at him to slow down, he took a corner too fast and my head head went crashing into the wall of the van which meant another visit to the hospital and stitches to my head. 

I don't remember very much about my childhood to the age of 9 but the memory of this painful head wound and my embarrassment at being sent home from school as the wound was still bleeding days later remains terribly vivid.

And how can I possibly forget the elaborate party he had wanted to arrange for my 18th birthday but with the caveat that my mother was not on the guest list and as she has never been one to miss any party, invite or not; her response was to tell me that she should never have had me and that I had ruined her life.

In my efforts at mediation, I remember that I gave them both my best 'please sort this out for my sake' kind of plea but it fell on deaf ears; my father cancelled the party and told me that I had been nothing but trouble to him throughout my entire life. 

I can remember feeling so heartbroken after this birthday that I couldn't bring myself to cut my 'special' coming-of-age cake until many weeks later.

It's just as well I've never really been a fan of any birthday, particularly my own!

And although the hostilities would continue to wax and wane in the years after and if  I found myself in their cross hairs; I would inevitably be accused of behaving 'just like your mother' or raged at for behaving 'just like your father', which was ridiculous as for most of the time, I didn't even like either of them then why on earth would I want to be like them?

But was I some kind of 'problem child' who hung around a street corner drinking cheap cider when I wasn't tormenting old ladies or putting a brick through a shop window for kicks? 

It may have been easier to understand if I had been but no, I'd either have my head in a book while listening to music or else I'd be drawing flowers in my sketch book, enjoying a stroll through the old streets of York or whiling away the hours gazing at my favourite painting of the Return to the Front by Richard Jack in the art gallery.

I was also devoted to my grandparents and would enjoy a friendly natter over supper after school every week with his parents and tea, delicious cake and more friendly natter with her parents. They truly were my bulwarks during these difficult years and I adored them.

I once loved my parents very much but as neither took any care with that love, I knew I had no choice other than to move away physically and emotionally from both of them as soon as I could but as there would always be one more 'get-together', I'd find myself returning to the family fold against my instinct for a quiet life only to walk away time and again because of their infuriatingly selfish behaviour.

And now with the death of my father last month at the age of 68; I have found myself raking over the ashes of the difficult relationship I have had with them.

My mother is now infirm through ill health, exacerbated through years of alcohol abuse and as I believe that life really is too short for feelings of resentment and that everyone has the potential for change; our relationship underwent a huge seismic shift many years ago.

My father would never change in his attitude towards me and when in the summer of 2013, I realised that no matter what I achieved; it would never be good enough, I made the decision to finally walk away from this painful relationship but I never gave up hope that one day he would reconcile himself to the daughter I was and still am.

He died suddenly in the early morning of an August day and it was left to my niece to tell me by telephone that he had died and I wasn't invited to the hospital to see him nor later that day at his home as my family gathered together united in their shock and grief.

How many times when someone has died do we rewind to that final conversation we had with them?

For since my father's death, I have thought often about our last conversation on that cloudy summer's day and how when it had ended and as I was walking away, I vowed that I would keep walking from him as far as I could.

And my transgression that day? 

With my mother's rapid spiral down into alcoholism, I had been travelling several days a week from my home over 30 miles away to check up on her, clean the house, make sure that the bills were being paid and stock up the fridge until it was time to call the doctor and request another hospital admission.

And yes, it would have been easier to have walked away as others had done but I simply could not bring myself to do it and as my brother who is a vulnerable adult was still living at home; the emotional 'pull' was that much greater.

I can remember the day so clearly when I had walked in to find that she had taken to her bed with a vodka bottle days before, leaving the house unlocked, the heating cranked on full, the place a total mess, my brother living on cheap sandwiches and my feelings of utter desperation and panic.

Later that morning and with a car full of groceries, I had a chance encounter with my father whose only response was to humiliate me for being such an idiot in helping my mother and I knew then as I walked away from him for the final time that I was indeed 'an idiot' for wasting my precious time on this parent so utterly devoid of compassion and understanding; for not only was I helping my mother, I was also helping my brother who was also his son!

He only gave my brother an hour of his time every week and yet, was 'the moron' for trying to do all that I could to keep a roof over his son's head!

I had thought of attending his funeral but as I discovered the details of it from the local newspaper, I knew that my presence was not needed and so I stayed away; which was just as well judging by the looks of pity I caught after the funeral on the faces of those who had known us both.

Even in the most primitive semblance; a funeral is the time in which ceremonial practice and belief are woven into a cultural rite to remember the dead in the best way possible but it can also be the day in which old scores are settled, the history of the deceased is 'tweaked' and the narrative of family history changes course - and so it was for me, worthy of only the briefest of mentions, an afterthought, a relic from another era.

I work two evenings a week in a local club which pays for the rent on my studio and keeps me in craft supplies and books and many of the regulars have known my father since childhood and of all  who attended his funeral, only one found the courage to talk to me about it later on and I do not think that I will ever forget his kindness when he took me by the hand and told me that he was pleased for my sake that I had not been there.

I think the thing which has most troubled me about the death of my father, is that I have been left feeling so troubled by it as I had always imagined I would be indifferent to any news of him but how else to explain my sense of rage as if he has slammed the door in my face for the final time or that profound sadness about the beautiful and charming grandson he barely knew.

Or the black void in which all of my questions about my relationship with him have tumbled into and which are now swirling around like confetti, to be forever unanswered and I have to find my way through the 'If only' and What if' on my own.

Different light
Searching for the truth I find
That I am running quite short of time
And I am no longer certain of my destiny

A few days ago I was reunited with some music from an old car and the first one I plucked from the plastic bag was About Time from Steve Winwood and as I played the first song, I was immediately thrown by the poignancy of the lyrics:

Searching for the truth
I found out what I thought would be
Peace of mind
Things that should've stayed the same
Are prone to change
Now I've seen a little light.

Do you know that I can't even recall single compliment ever received from my father and although he and I shared little in this life other than a love of the sea and an appreciation for music, I like to think that he also would have enjoyed listening to a Different Light

And although it may have taken some time but the day before last when my mother finally found the courage to tell me what I had always suspected but had never dared to imagine which was that my father had never wanted me; I thought not of him, but of my dearest grandmother who told me many years ago that her one regret had been to consent to the marriage of her daughter and how she had wished that she could have raised me instead.

I had overlooked a part of me
I was escaping my reality
I have questioned my philosophy
So that I could see the truth in me
Different Light

Even though my father had been a dreadful parent to me; I know that he was not a 'bad' person and maybe in another time and place, he and I would have enjoyed a relationship free of resentment and hurt but when I glanced at the tributes posted on-line about the death of this 'lovely man' who was always 'funny, warm and kind', it's as if I were reading about a stranger and I only wish that he could have found it in his heart to have been that 'lovely man' for me.

And now as I leave him to his rest, the poignant words of the poet William Wordsworth return to mind in which he writes: 'We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.' and what remains is me - living a life in the best way I can, remaining true to who I have always been and knowing that while his blood runs through my veins and that of my children; will always be my father's daughter and I must find a way of living with this.

Sources Used:
Steve Windwood - Different Light from the album About Time (Wincraft Music/SCI Fidelity Records June 2013)

Monday, 3 October 2016

Nicole Simpson IS the Hero and Orenthal James the Perpetrator, Stupid!

It's the Perpetrator, Stupid.

You won't ever know the worse that happened to Nicole Brown Simpson in her marriage, because she is dead and cannot tell you. And if she were alive, remember, you wouldn't believe her.

It is always the same. It happens to women as different as Nicole Simpson, Lorena Bobbitt - and me. The perpetrators are men as different as O.J. Simpson, John Wayne Bobbitt, and the former flower-child I am still too afraid to name.

There is terror, yes, and physical pain. There is desperation and despair. One blames oneself, forgives him. One judges oneself harshly for not loving him enough. "It's your fault," he shouts as he is battering in the door, or slamming your head against the floor. And before you pass out, you say yes.

You run, but no one will hide you or stand up for you - which means standing up to him. You will hide behind bushes if there are bushes; or behind trash cans; or in alleys; away from the decent people who aren't helping you. It is, after all, your fault.

Nicole Simpson, like every battered woman, knew she would not be believed. She may have been shrewd enough to anticipate the crowds along the Orange County freeways cheering on O.J. Every battered woman has to be careful, even with strangers. His friends won't stop him. Neither will yours.

Nicole Simpson went to many experts on domestic violence for help but none of them stopped him. That's what it takes: the batterer has to be stopped. He will not stop himself. He has to be imprisoned, or killed, or she has to escape and hide, sometimes for the rest of her life, sometimes until he finds another woman to "love." There is no proof that counseling the batterer stops him.

It was Nicole who asked the police to arrest Simpson in 1989, the ninth time the police had been called. Arrest needs to be mandatory. The 1989 assault on Nicole Simpson should have resulted in O.J. Simpson's ninth arrest.

Accounts of wife-beating have typically been met with incredulity and disdain, best expressed in the persistent question, "Why doesn't she leave?" But after two decades of learning about battery, we now know that more battered women are killed after they leave than before.

Nicole Simpson was living in her own home when she was murdered. Her divorce had been finalized in 1992. Whether or not her ex-husband committed the murder, he did continue to assault her, threaten her, stalk her, intimidate her.

His so-called desire for reconciliation masks the awfulness of her situation, the same for every woman who escapes but does not disappear. Having ended the marriage, Nicole Simpson still had to negotiate her safety with the man who was hurting her.

She had to avoid angering him. Any hint that her amiability was essentially coerced, any threat of public exposure, any insult to his dignity from his point of view, might trigger aggression. This cause-and-effect scenario is more imagined than real, since the perpetrator chooses when he will hurt or threaten or stalk. Still the woman tries.

All the smiling photographs of them together after the divorce should evoke alarm, not romantic descriptions of his desire to reconcile. Nicole Simpson followed a strategy of appeasement, because no one stood between her and him to stop him.

Escape, in fact, is hell, a period of indeterminate length reckoned in years, not months, when the ex-husband commits assaults intermittently and acts of terrorism with some consistency. Part of the torment is that freedom is near but he will not let the woman have it.

Many escaped women live half in hiding. I am still afraid of my ex-husband each and every day of my life - and I am not afraid of much.

Maybe you don't know how brave women are - the ones who have stayed until now and the ones who have escaped, both the living and the dead. Nicole Simpson is the hero. The perpetrator is the problem, stupid.

Andrea Dworkin
Life and Death. Unapologetic Writings on the Continuing War Against Women
(New York: Virago Press 1997)

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Oh Pffff! He Can't Be Doing Her Any Harm! Recollecting Nicole Brown Simpson...

Almost from the day she and O.J. met in 1977, friends had cautioned Nicole about his rough treatment. 

She was 18, three weeks out of high school and working as a cocktail waitress at the Daisy, a Beverly Hills restaurant. He was 29, a married father of two, with a three-year $2.5 million contract as the star running back for the Buffalo Bills.

After their first date, according to Sheila Weller, author of Raging Heart, a chronicle of the Simpsons' marriage that was written with the cooperation of the Brown family, Nicole arrived at the apartment she shared with a platonic friend, David LeBon with the zipper of her jeans ripped open and the button torn off. Alarmed, LeBon asked what happened. O.J., Nicole said, had ripped her pants in his impatience to make love. "No, wait David," said Nicole, as LeBon angrily paced their apartment. "I like him."

The mistreatment escalated during their first year together. One day Nicole found a strange earring in her bed. According to a journal chronicling abuse that she gave to her divorce lawyer, when she accused O.J. of being unfaithful, he threw her against the walls of their apartment, then tossed all her clothes out the window.

"I knew about that incident," says a friend of Nicole's "That type of thing happened a number of times." Still, the friend wasn't concerned for Nicole's well-being; like others, she simply couldn't imagine the smooth-talking, gracious sports hero beating up a woman.

According to abuse expert Joan Farr (director of Metro-Dade Family and Victim Services in Miami), upscale batterers often take refuge behind their public image. "People see the image, and they don't think that these people have a mean, ugly, abusive side."

Simpson, says Nicole's friend, "had a great sense of humor and wonderful charm. It was easy to think, 'Oh, pffff, he can't be doing her any harm.'"

Today the Brown family believes that O.J. not only beat Nicole, he murdered her. But in the weeks just after O.J.'s arrest, they contended that Nicole was not a battered woman.

Richard Gelles, director of the Family Violence Research Program at the University of Rhode Island, attributes this apparent blind spot to what he calls "the Burning Bed phenomenon" - named for a 1984 TV movie about a battered wife. "To be recognized as a battered woman at risk," he says, "you have to look the way Farrah Fawcett looked in that movie. You have to be covered with black-and-blue marks and be ferociously beaten. Nicole's family and friends very seldom - and most of them never - saw strong physical evidence, as she apparently hid it very well with makeup."

Her extraordinary physical presence may, in a tragic paradox, have been among Nicole's fatal weaknesses.

"She was very tough, very powerful," says her friend Candace Garvey, wife of former baseball star Steve Garvey. "When she walked into a room, every head would turn."

One neighbor recalls a scorching day when Nicole was wearing a heavy shawl. "The shawl slipped, and I saw faint bruises on her right arm," he says. "She said she'd been knocking around with the kids and things got a little rough." The neighbor was aware of O.J.'s jealous rages, but he immediately dismissed the notion of physical abuse. "She was a ballsy woman." he says. "You couldn't imagine that she's take that stuff."

But in September 1986, Nicole came to the attention of someone who could - and did - recognize signs of possible abuse. Nicole later wrote in her diary that after she and O.J. returned home from an evening with friends, "[O.J.] beat me up so bad... [he] tore my blue sweater and blue slacks completely off me."

Nicole's head was so badly bruised that O.J. drove her to a local hospital, where she told the physician treating her - Dr Martin Alpert - that she had had a bicycle accident.

As he told investigators, Dr. Alpert did not believe Nicole's explanation. It is not known whether he reported his suspicions; only in 1993 did it become a misdemeanor under California law to fail to report domestic abuse.

What is clear is that the state judicial system failed to protect Nicole.

At around 4 a.m. on January 1 1989, John Edwards and another police officer responded to a 911 call: "At 360 North Rockingham, woman being beaten." As Edwards recounted in his police reports and his gripping court testimony, when he arrived at the Simpsons' home, an hysterical Nicole ran to him screaming, "He's going to kill me!"

Her lip cut, her cheeks swollen, her eye blackened, "she clung onto me," Edwards continued. "She was beat up." Nicole yelled to the police, "You guys never do anything about him."

Emerging from his house in his bathrobe, O.J. spewed obscenities at the officers, and when they told him they were taking him to the police station, he shouted, "You've been out here eight times before, and you're going to arrest me for this?"

O.J. was charged with assault, but he suffered few consequences. Former police officer Ron Shipp, who'd received special training in domestic violence, testified at the trial that Nicole had called him a few days after the incident and asked him to talk to O.J. about his violent behavior. Though Shipp told Simpson that he fit the police profile of a batterer, he also listened to the pleas of his idol to help squelch the case and spoke to a police supervisor on O.J.'s behalf.

It's unlikely that Shipp wielded much influence, but the L.A. courts did seem loath to prosecute. O.J. pleaded no contest to the spousal abuse charge. Municipal court Judge Ronald R. Schoenberg did not impose a stiff punishment. Simpson was ordered to pay $470 in fines and penalty and $500 to a shelter for battered women.

Directed to receive domestic violence counseling, Simpson was allowed to choose his own therapist, and in September, when he moved to New York City to work for NBC as a football commentator, the judge permitted O.J. to continue his sessions by phone. Deputy city attorney Alana Bowman said that out of the 20,000 domestic violence cases her office handles each year, O.J. was the only defendant allowed to undergo counseling by phone.

Though Nicole repeatedly called the police for help, no other records of O.J.'s assaulting her have surfaced. There is speculation that O.J. talked the police out of filing such reports...

It would seem that after the 1989 incident, the Brown family finally had the evidence they needed to prevail upon Nicole to get out of the marriage. Denise had, at Nicole's request, taken a photograph of her bruised face, which Nicole locked away in her safe-deposit box.

Meanwhile, both O.J. and Nicole told the Browns how deeply they loved each other and that they were determined to work things out. The violence they both swore, was finished. In fact the beatings had not been a constant in their relationship. "It's hard to believe," says a friend, "but it wasn't the norm. There was a lot of good. There was a lot of fun."

The violence was real but sporadic. "There is a great myth," says domestic violence authority Gelles, "that abusive husbands are abusive 24 hours a day, 52 weeks a year. They are not."

Facing the Rage for People Magazine
February 20 1995

Saturday, 3 October 2015

After THAT Verdict, the Forecast HAD Been Sort-Of Inevitable!

Even if you didn't think that O.J. was the killer, it is clear that he certainly beat Nicole at least a few times - in fact, in her diaries, which were not admitted as evidence, she recorded sixty-one separate incidents of abuse - and yet somehow that element of their relationship was strangely sacrosanct, it was something no one seemed ready to assess honestly and shamelessly.

The legal aspects of domestic violence - which was referred to in court as "domestic discord," since the word "violence" was deemed prejudicial - created a rallying point for outraged feminists and social workers and women's advocates to gather around and make some noise. It gave Denise Brown a good reason to avoid going to court. But none of the spousal abuse experts making their points on CNN or Geraldo Live had anything enlightening to say.

Even though we all knew that there must have been some kind of strange dynamic going on between O.J. and Nicole, some insulated universe that they invented and they alone understood, some kind of closet system that they had entered long ago, none of the pundits wanted to touch it, to speculate on it. The fact that the crime of domestic wife-beating had so long been overlooked - meant that nuanced thinking about these relationships had to be suppressed.

Meanwhile, as fired up as many people were getting about battered woman's syndrome out here in the real world, inside the courtroom none of this was getting through. One juror, interviewed after the verdict, even declared all the spousal abuse evidence "a waste of time", and left it at that. While this reaction was disingenuous and indicative of the jury's overall stupidity, it was also an understandably impatient response to a monolithic, simplistic view of what it means when a man throws his fist at a woman.

Because it means many things, just as both the words "yes" and "no" mean many things, and the human condition has always been and will forever be made more complicated, exciting, fun and difficult by the misunderstandings that dog us day after day, if not hour after hour or minute by minute. And this will always be the problem when the law gets mixed up with human affairs, particularly crimes of passion or mistakes of the heart: the legal system imposes a straightforward, Manichaean set of absolutes on crooked, twisted, multimotivated human behavior.
In criminal court, one can never be sort-of guilty or kind-of innocent.

While the O.J. trial brought domestic violence into the open, it may well have pushed the subtleties of personality - the simple idea that you can act as a person and not as a "syndrome" - dangerously out of view. Any curiosity about what made Nicole stay seventeen years in a relationship that was apparently violent from the start, what strange deal she'd made with the devil long ago - all that was discounted.

There was never any suggestion that by documenting the abuse and leaving pictures of her injured self in her safe-deposit box - which the prosecution had to drill open as it searched for evidence - and telling her friends "O.J. is going to kill me and get away with it," Nicole might have indicated not mere resignation to her fate but a strange acceptance of it...

It was never okay to conjecture that she have believed that it was somehow the proper denouement of her star-crossed romantic life to end up stabbed outside her home, throat slit so completely that she was almost decapitated...

There was never any thought that this bloody crime scene was as inevitable to her as William Holden floating in the pool at the beginning and the end of Sunset Boulevard, a great movie about characters who always knew it would come to this, who knew that Oedipus was a fool to fight his destined disgrace: instead of resisting fate, they get drunk with doom. Any suggestion of this kind of complicity on Nicole's part was absolutely verboten.

Somehow it was only okay to say that Nicole suffered and was murdered - never that she may have courted death or at the very least been a passive partner in her own end. That is just a far too sickening thought after years of feminism have tried to show us otherwise.

It does not matter that O.J. killed Nicole after she left, or that when a violent marriage ends in femicide, 75 percent of these murders occur after she has really severed ties: WHAT MATTERS IS THAT SHE STAYED.

Blame it on battered wife syndrome, on her friends, her family, Southern California in general or Brentwood in particular: it doesn't matter. There are women who walk out on a man who punches them, and there are women who stay: that's the main difference between people who get killed and people who don't. Seventeen years later it's too late....

I bet she left a safe-deposit box with pictures of her bruised face in it and the diary with its record of sixty-one instances of abuse, and I bet she told her friends over and over again, "O.J.'s going to kill me," not because she was afraid it was so or that she was even trying to prevent it - I think she said it because she knew it were so. She was forecasting the weather, knowing full well that there's nothing you can do to stop a hurricane...

Elizabeth Wurtzel
Bitch In Praise of Difficult Women
(London: Quartet Books 1998)

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Silent No More? Words DO Matter! A Victim's Voice and the Campaign of Matthew Monforton...

The House approved Bozeman Republican Matthew Monforton’s proposal to broaden the type of evidence that is admissible in domestic violence and child abuse cases Tuesday.

Monforton argued that juries ought to be allowed to hear about the prior bad acts committed by an accused abuser, acts that are currently considered inadmissible.

“I do not advocate this bill because I trust Montana  prosecutors, and I do not advocate this bill because I trust Montana judges. I advocate this bill because I trust Montana juries. Our citizens are perfectly capable of sifting through the evidence, if they're presented with that evidence, and finding the truth.”

Monforton claims his bill is inspired by the 1995 murder trial of O. J. Simpson, in which past domestic violence accusations were excluded. He says California now allows past bad acts to be entered into evidence in such cases, and Montana should do the same.

But the bill drew opposition from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. Helena Democrat Jenny Eck says it would allow too much evidence from the past to be entered, including charges that did not result in a conviction.

“What this bill does is it allows past accusations to be brought into the courtroom, evidence of any kind from the past can be brought in, so even if somebody was tried in the past and found innocent, those same accusations could be brought into the courtroom against them for a new crime. And so it’s a pretty scary precedent to set.”

And Republican Stephanie Hess of Havre said allowing a jury to hear about an accused abuser’s previous acts, could change the whole focus of a trial.

"It opens the door for the trial to become about the person’s character and not about what they’re charged with necessarily.”

Despite those objections, the bill was approved on a 55 to 45 vote. It must pass one more vote before heading to the Senate.

Words matter...
Where is the victim's voice? Where are her words? "I'm scared," Nicole Brown told her mother a few months before she was killed. "I go to the gas station, he's there. I go to the Payless Shoe Store, and he's there. I'm driving, and he's behind me."

Nicole's ordinary words of fear, despair and terror told to friends, and concrete descriptions of physical attacks recorded in her diary, are being kept from the jury. Insignificant when she was alive--because they didn't save her--the victim's words remain insignificant in death: excluded from the trial of her accused murderer, called "hearsay" and not admissible in a legal system that has consistently protected or ignored the beating and sexual abuse of women by men, especially by husbands.

Friday, 16 January 2015

#RecollectNicole! The Legacy of Nicole Brown Simpson Continues...

 “I learned who I am and who I’m not, what I’m worth and who is not.”
 Dominic Riccitello

Hello again! As this blog post begins with two apologies, my first apology is that even though January is well and truly upon us and the month of February is now beckoning; I would still like to wish you all a very ‘Happy New Year’!

And secondly, I apologise for the lack of recent updates about Nicole Brown Simpson and to my chagrin having realised that I had posted my last story about her in September!

In my defence, I can only say that I have been very busy with other projects and as some of which were and are about Nicole; I had by no means forgotten about her…

Already 20015 promises to be interesting year with the release of the much anticipated ‘American Crime Story: The People v. O.J Simpson’ which will share the tales of the trial that begin an incredible twenty years ago this month!

The mini-series has been inspired by the fabulous book The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin and will feature John Travolta and David Schwimmer as the two ‘Bobs’, the former as Robert Shapiro, Simpson’s swathe and duplicitous defence lawyer and the latter as Robert Kardashian, Simpson’s mysteriously conflicted friend, former spouse of Kris and the lawyer whose jaw-dropping expression as the ‘Not Guilty’ verdict was delivered remains burned in the image of that unforgettable day.

A statement from the television channel FX, the producers of the ‘American Crime Story’ revealed that ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’ will share the tales of the “the chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and manoeuvring on both sides of the court, and how a combination of prosecution overconfidence, defence shrewdness, and the LAPD’s history with the city’s African-American community gave the jury what it needed: reasonable doubt.”

Personally speaking, I have never had any doubts, reasonable or otherwise as to the question of Simpson’s guilt!

As the ‘People v. O.J. Simpson’ is certain to shine the spotlight upon Simpson who is currently languishing inside the notorious Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada for anything from nine to thirty three years for his part in an armed confrontation in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007; I was disappointed to learn of the statement from Denise Brown that she had withdrawn her support for the Heart & Soul Food, a film that would focus on the life and the memories of her younger sister.

Denise had personally launched the idea for Heart & Soul Food through Kickstarter, the crowd funding website with Jimi James, Message Mon in 2014 to raise $360,000 in a campaign that would last 55 days; Nicole’s age.

Having taken a look at the campaign on Kickstarter today and even though 14 backers have pledged at total of $403, the message board simply reads Funding Canceled: Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on January 5.

The statement by Denise on her decision remains unequivocal: “The minute people said you have to market this with Simpson’s name I said no,” she says. “I won’t do anything to acknowledge the acquittal this year. So many are jumping on the bandwagon and doing the same old stuff, and I thought this could be different because the story is different. But I won’t go there.”

As Denise is apparently ‘brainstorming other ways to honor her sister’s life.’, I still wonder about the publication of her book that never was.

Due for publication in October 1998 by HarperCollins, Nicole’s Story promised to offer ‘a compelling portrait of her late sister which serves a two-fold purpose: to introduce readers to the smart, beautiful, and nurturing woman whom she loved; and to warn other women of the dangers of staying in an abusive relationship.’

With the promise of sixteen pages of colour photographs, this is the book I would love to read and I can’t imagine that I would be alone in thinking this!

Surely a balanced and realistic portrayal by those who actually knew and loved Nicole could begin the long process of shifting the spotlight away from the man who took her life and that of Ron Goldman one Sunday evening in June over twenty years ago.

Alas, until that time comes, I shall continue to do all that I can to keep the memory of Nicole alive…

As I've been doing a little New Year dusting and cleaning (metaphorically of course!) with some of my blogs; the links below will transport you to the only sites that I now publish…

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Laughing at Justice! Ceri Daniel Speaks Out...

A violent lout did an ‘Irish jig’ outside court after being spared jail for beating his girlfriend.

Michael Brown, 27, boasted that he ‘didn't even get community service’ after his trial. But his victim has accused the ‘soft’ judge who let him walk free of ruining people’s lives.

Her comments will heap further pressure on Judge George Moorhouse, who has already been accused of misconduct by three police and crime commissioners.

They have highlighted a number of cases in which he has failed to send domestic abusers to prison, claiming that such decisions can force victims into hiding.

Ceri Daniel, 24, suffered head injuries and cuts all over her upper body after being punched and kicked by Brown in January.

The terrified victim said the judge’s failure to jail the attacker after the trial in July left her with no choice but to flee her home town, as she was so petrified of meeting him.

She said: ‘Judge Moorhouse ruins people’s lives without even knowing he is doing it. He should not be a judge at all. He makes the victims prisoners, not the perpetrators.’

Miss Daniel was beaten after inviting her former partner of seven years to her house. During the attack, he also assaulted two of her friends.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and was given a three-month suspended sentence, put on a domestic violence programme and told to pay £550 compensation to his victims.

Miss Daniel said the judge’s failure to jail the attacker after the trial in July left her with no choice but to flee her home town, as she was so petrified of meeting him.

But Miss Daniel said her ex, the father of her two children, had been left thinking ‘the justice system is a laugh’. She added: ‘There is no justice, no deterrent.

‘My life has been turned upside down, while Michael’s has carried on as normal.’

Judge George Moorhouse, who has been criticised by victims for the ‘soft sentences’ he imposes

Speaking about her decision to leave her home town of Middlesbrough, she said: ‘He lived close by and I was petrified of bumping into him. I became a prisoner in my own home.’

The case is one of a number of trials in which it is alleged that Judge Moorhouse, who sits at Teesside Crown Court, has ‘failed to deliver justice for the public’.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird and fellow commissioners Barry Coppinger and Ron Hogg in Cleveland and Durham have compiled a dossier of suspect cases.

The trio have called for the judge to be investigated and written to the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman to complain.

They were driven to act following the trial of Anthony Bruce, 34, who was given a mere 12-month suspended sentence after beating his wife, holding a knife to her throat and shooting her in the foot with a pellet gun.

Their accusations were initially rejected by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, which said there was no evidence of misconduct and that it could not look at sentencing issues.