I have been meaning to write this post for some time, but only got to it now for unexplainable reasons. I am sure that you have found your way to this post because you have some sort of interest about the whole O.J. Simpson case, and (like me) were probably OBSESSED once the tv show “The People vs. O.J.” came out, and everything that transpired after that. I went on to watch documentaries like “O.J.: Made in America” and anything I could find on youtube.
This case had everything to make is appealing to the masses; race, celebrity, sports, patriarchal patterns (in and out of the court room), love, jealousy….and something else that i feel like I am forgetting…. It is at the tip of my tongue… OH YEA….domestic abuse!! How silly of me to overlook the thing that started this whole mess, right!?!
This reason for my sarcastic remark above is because I feel that the whole domestic abuse part was as overshadowed as Ron Goldman in this case. Even til this day, when talking about the O.J. case, people do not talk about his psychopathic patterns leading up to his crime, they either talk about the gory details of the murder and his guilt as it pertains to the evidence, the Kardashians, and the race element that played a strooooong part in getting him off as innocent. When I look at what lead up to the events though, I also see some serious learning opportunities about the patterns of domestic abuse manifested in the form of intense “love” to one another. Before getting into my point, lets define what Domestic Abuse is:
What is Domestic Abuse?
Lets get into a definition of domestic abuse, according to the Department of Justice:
We define domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc are types of physical abuse. This type of abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.
Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.
Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.
Economic Abuse: Is defined as making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.
Psychological Abuse: Elements of psychological abuse include – but are not limited to – causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.
Let me clarify one thing before I delve deeper into this, I think race outweighed the issue of domestic abuse in the case because it was the in the wake of a shift in race relations in the USA at the time. It was right after the Rodney King case, artists like NWA, Tupac, Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, were vocalising the African-American experience in the States and the criminalising of young black men. And here we had a young black man that made it, and was accepted by the mass culture (most people argue that he even forgot/denied his own roots when convenient for him) and people wanted to celebrate that and not let anything tarnish that good strive. The defending team recognised this, and took full advantage of it. So much so, that they very thing that started this whole case was buried under the resentment that the culture needed to release at the time. It was their time to shine, and domestic abuse had to take the back seat for now.
But now that it has been 20-odd years since that trial, and we are seeing yet another shift happen in society, could this be the time to talk about domestic abuse and what we can learn from the O.J. case about the patterns? Let me say this, I was on a date with a guy where this conversation came up, and I made my point about how I feel that the whole domestic abuse aspect was overshadowed by the race element. His response was the typical, “It’s her fault, she could have gotten out of that relationship if she wanted to”. Yes, it’s 2018, and people are still saying shit like that. This made me realise that it is incredibly important to restart the conversation about this because in my eyes, if you think it is as easy as just walking out, then you do not fully understand what domestic abuse is or looks like. Especially in the wake of movements like MeToo and TimesUp!
Another reason why it is so important to talk about this, is because before this case came to court, O.J. had been beating Nicole Brown for years, and in the words of Marcia Clark – the attorney on the prosecution team and maybe the only person to try to focus on evidence and the patterns of domestic abuse- “This went on for years. All that battering, before he was even arrested. He got away with beating her.” While close friends of Nicole, like Kris Kardashian Jenner, said “I didn’t know how bad it was”. I think anyone who knows someone who has experienced domestic abuse or has been close to someone who has, can deduce that it is common that you cannot always see the signs. Also, often times people in the situation will say “it’s my personal decision and no ones business” so they go about trying to hide anything that indicts that something is severely wrong, and they believe that this is just their dynamic of an otherwise loving relationship.