19 years ago a mother was butchered to death in her walkway as her children slept upstairs. Not far from where she laid dying was her friend, also butchered, after attempting to do a good deed.

Small personal touches like a bath that had been run or a cup of ice cream melting on a bannister went from little personal pleasures to evidence attempting to place a time of death.

The man accused of their murder was called an American hero over 4 million times in the news in the days following his arrest. That man had pleaded no contest to spousal abuse a few years before. Still, he was called a hero.

Much has changed when it comes to the perception of domestic violence in this country. Unfortunately it was while America was glued to a trial often billed as The Trial of the Century.

We all saw the pictures of a battered face. We listened to 911 calls and heard the rage of a man who thought it was ok to break down a door as his ex-wife cowered behind it. We listened as she told the operator exactly what he was going to do to her when he broke that door down if help didn’t get there quickly.

We know that eventually she ended up dead.

So what is it about domestic violence that still is so puzzling? Nicole Brown Simpson changed perceptions in that we saw that it was not a problem exclusive to any race, ethnicity or even financial status.

She had our sympathy. But he was still called a hero. For running a ball? For parlaying a charming personality into a broadcasting and acting career? For those rental car commercials?

For pleading no contest to spousal abuse?

It is a sad reality that despite a raised awareness about domestic violence, we still have a long way to go. The signs are often missed and the dynamics of a relationship get lost in trying to assign blame.

It is often hard to understand why a victim goes back or even stays. It’s even harder when the abuse is hidden which is often the case.

The fear that Nicole Brown Simpson often voiced was that he was going to kill her and get away with it. She knew enough about a public image that was very different than the he that appeared in private.

It is that fear that many victims have. It doesn’t matter if he’s a football player, a doctor, a lawyer, or a police officer. No abuser is going to work speaking about that great beating they gave the wife last night or how much she deserved it.

Nicole Brown Simpson was a beautiful woman and it seemed that she had the perfect life. Until she was found in a pool of blood nearly decapitated.

19 years later there are still too many victims. They don’t all look like Nicole but they all have something in common. They are being abused and they worry that nobody will believe them or that their abuser is too charming, popular or charismatic for people to believe he is an abuser.

Abusers come in all shapes and sizes. There are even some who believe them to be heroes. Nicole’s ex-husband spent a lot of time searching golf courses for her real killer, that is until he ended up in prison for different crimes.

19 years ago a woman never got to take her warm bath or finish her ice cream. She was butchered in the walkway of her home as her children slept upstairs. Her ex, the same ex who had given a plea of no contest for spousal abuse was still called a hero. Over 4 million times.

Perceptions have changed since that day. But we still have a way to go.

If you or someone you know needs help The Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence will be merging with the Coalition Against Child Abuse & Neglect forming The Safe Center LI. Please call for help or visit the web sites.

Kristen is a single mom of 3 kids and studying at The CUNY School of Professional Studies. She is blogging while she still figures out what she wants to be when she grows up.

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