Why Batterers So Often Go Free

By Hancock, LynNell | Newsweek, October 16, 1995 | Go to article overview

Why Batterers So Often Go Free


Hancock, LynNell, Newsweek


WHEN THE O.J. VERDICT WAS read to a rapt and riven nation, one woman in Madison Wis., felt all over again the barrel of a gun pressed to her temple. Two months after Nicole Brown Simpson was brutally murdered, Jennifer, as she asks to be called, found herself just a "fraction from death." She had told her husband she wanted to end their marriage of 20 years. Four days later, "out of the sky blue" he covered her face with his hands, grabbed a loaded pistol from the night stand, held it to her head and said, "You go call the f---ing cops. You know what happened to Nicole, so go call your f---ing cops." Jennifer fled to a shelter for battered women the next morning. Though her husband begged her to come home--initially tracking her whereabouts by monitoring police radios--she has never returned. "I have lived this case in Nicole's shoes," says Jennifer. "My husband is very charming, a PR man like you would not believe." Jennifer is convinced that if he had pulled the trigger that night, he would be walking free today.

O.J.'s acquittal resonated loudly among those blacks who have experienced decades of injustice in the criminal justice system.:Yet women and victim advocates say the quieter message is equally dire: men can beat their wives, perhaps even kill them, and go unpunished. About 1.8 million women are abused every year--one every 16 seconds, according to Murray Straus, codirector of the University of New Hampshire Family Research Lab. "O.J." has already entered the lexicon as a verb for torture. Before Nicole's death, abusers commonly said, "`Bitch, I'm going to kill you;," says Rob Schroeder, director of Safespace, a public shelter in Miami. "Now they,re saying ,Bitch, I'm going to O.J. you,." A Boston woman told shelter workers her husband branded her leg with a hot iron, threatening to out-O.J. OJ. And one Orange County, Calif., license plate was framed with a personal warning: "If O.J. walks, my ex-wife better start running." Abuse experts worry that Simpson's release may force victims to retreat into their private hell, discouraging them from seeking legal help. Standing in the dark just minutes from Simpson's Rockingham-estate celebration party, Denise Brown told a gathering of candle-carrying protesters the verdict was saying, "You can rape, you can stalk, you can kill, and it's quite all right."

Prelude to murder: How did the panel of two men and 10 women so swiftly dismiss O.J.'s violent past as a prelude to murder? There were police reports of a half-clothed Nicole hiding in fear by her door. There were Nicole's haunting souvenirs in the safe-deposit box--photos of her bruised face, O.J.'s tortured apology, a will naming her middle sister, Dominique, as guardian of her children. "It's like writing: In the event of my death," said prosecutor Marcia Clark in her closing statements. "She knew. He's going to kill me."

One answer may lie, ironically, in the gender of the jurors. Jury studies show that women have a particularly hard time sympathizing with battered women who bring their attackers to court. Female jurors are more likely than men to blame the accuser for her injuries. They tend to comb the testimony for any indication why this unsettling woman before them is exaggerating--why she could never be them. "It's too scary for many women to realize they, too, are vulnerable to being victimized," says Joan Zorza, senior attorney at New York's National Center on Women and Family Law, "so they think it's her fault. " If gender biases were not enough to keep the jury skeptical, Nicole was also rich. She owned a condo, a flashy car and sexy clothes. She wasn't trapped by poverty, says Ann Jones, author of "Next Time She'll Be Dead," a book about battering. She could, less affluent women may think, have bought herself a bodyguard. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Why Batterers So Often Go Free
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.