As the O.J. Simpson case continues to unfold, the national spotlight has begun to focus on the horrors of domestic violence and the abuse of women.
Simpson is being held without bail in the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail in the grisly double-homicide of his former spouse Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
In 1989, Simpson pleaded “no contest” to abusing his then wife, and the recent release of 911 tapes gave a glimpse of one of his abusive tirades.
Audrey Chapman, family therapist/counselor and author, told JET from her Washington, DD, office,
“Unfortunately this has been a subject that has been neglected for too many years.
Battered women – and children – have been verbally, sexually and physically abused for years… Now you’ve got a whole country focused on domestic violence.
People are suddenly realizing this a major issue”.
Ms. Chapman pointed out, “It takes something like Nicole Brown Simpson losing her life to get people all worked up.
“Some say people wouldn’t have gotten so worked up if she had not been White. But I hope that this is not the case. It’s victimizing, degrading and very dangerous for the victim, regardless of race”.
On the highly-publicized 911 tape, Simpson could be heard in the background screaming obscenities, as his former wife pleaded for the police dispatcher to send help immediately.
It was just one in a series of calls she had made in an effort to quell domestic disturbances during their stormy seven-year marriage that dissolved in divorce in 1992.
Ms. Chapman told JET repeat calls to police for domestic disturbances should automatically result in authorities and social service agencies stepping in to get help for the abusive partner.
“If I report a child abuse case and it’s clear abuse is taking place, everybody gets involved. And it’s required by courts that abusers get therapy, whether they want to or not. If they can do it with child abuse, they can certainly do it with domestic abuse.”
Husband and wife psychologists Drs. Julia and Nathan Hare who practice in San Francisco, hope something positive will come out of the entire O.J. Simpson “tragedy.”
She said, “It’s a tragedy that this happened, but it’s a sobering experience.”
“There is never any excuse for abuse or murder. Men can walk away. They don’t have to stay in a situation until they are completely out of control. This is bigger than O.J. Simpson,” she said.
Her husband added, “Men need to be taught an alternative way to deal with their women. There’s a problem of self-esteem and impulse control. You just don’t grab somebody because you feel like it.
While many states across the country are considering legislation that would allow law enforcement officials to press charges against a man who abuses a woman even if she refuses, Hare disagrees with such tactics.
“I think everything is a matter of degree. It depends on if she wants to keep the relationship going. You just can’t spend the tax payers’ money trying a person when the victim doesn’t want him to be tried.”
“Instead of going to jail – then the cure is worse than the disease – send both to a treatment center where a program could benefit them both. A lot of these people are poor and that’s not going to help when the man she loves – and probably still loves her – is in jail.”
Hare concluded that through counseling programs, men can learn to control their frustration and anger. “Men resort to fisticuffs when they feel they have failed to deal with the woman on a person to person level. Once he resorts to fisticuffs, he has already lost the fight – and the relationship.”
Jet Magazine (July 18 1994)