October 6, 1995
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EDT
From Correspondent Robert Vito
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Domestic violence was a major focus of the prosecution's case in the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial. There was the 911 call, the pictures of a battered Nicole Brown Simpson and O.J. Simpson's plea of no contest for spousal abuse.
But when the trial ended, many women were stunned.
Reporter Robert Vito sat down with a group of women who have had to seek protection from their abusive husbands and boyfriends in a southern California safe house. They will only be identified by their first names.
"How many of you thought that O.J. Simpson was not guilty?" Vito asked. There was no response. "How many of you thought O.J. Simpson was guilty?" All the women raised their hands.
"I just know he murdered his wife and her friend Ron Goldman, and it just breaks my heart that people found him not guilty," Giselle said.
"I was really angry," said Carmen, an African-American. "And felt that we're still in a society that says it's OK for a man to beat his woman and he can kill her and he can walk away from it. And we talk about being civilized, how civilized are we?"
These women have more than their opinions. They have first-hand experience. They have all left abusive relationships, and it has not been easy. Some of them have been beaten and stabbed.
"...it's all about domesitc violence, and all the evidence was there to prove it."
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"It was never an issue of race for me...he beat that woman. Period."
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"They didn't think about domestic violence... they're endangering us..."
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Paula was beaten in the back of her head while she nursed her baby. "My husband battered me and really messed up my face. My nose was broke several times," she said.
Giselle was stabbed. "I was stabbed by my batterer a month and a half after Nicole was killed."
Julie said she feels great pain and emotion when she thinks about Nicole Brown Simpson. "I've come close to death. I know what it feels like to know you're dying. And I feel like it could've been me, and nothing would've ever happened to him."
And that's what worries these women now. They believe Simpson's acquittal sends a dangerous message. "I feel like batterers feel OK about it now that the judicial system won't back the victims up," Julie said. "I'm sure they feel like they do anything to us now and there won't be any consequence."
"Now it's sending a message like it's OK to batter your wife and get away with it," Eileen said. "That's what I felt. I felt defeated almost for myself and for all of the other women who have gone through this situation."
Giselle was upset that the trial's focus became a race issue rather than an issue of domestic violence. "It's all about domestic violence, and all the evidence was there to prove it," she said.
And how did Carmen, the only African-American in the group, handle the race question? "It was never an issue of race for me. It was a matter of, you know what? He beat that woman, period."
"...batterers feel OK about it now that the judicial system won't back the victims up..."
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"...I was literally ticked off that she could say that domestic violence was not considered..."
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"I felt like Nicole deserved better. We all deserved better."
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But according to juror Brenda Moran, domestic abuse was not an issue for jurors in the Simpson murder trial. At a press conference she said, "To me, that was a waste of time. This was a murder trial, not domestic abuse."
Jeri was incensed by Moran's remarks. "I was ticked off. I was literally ticked off that she could say that domestic violence was not considered, because it was the motive."
Carmen said she was angered, but not surprised by the remarks of Moran, who is African-American. "Because, coming from the black community ... it's really OK for a husband to beat his wife. It's OK for a husband to misuse and abuse her."
Paula said the verdict puts all battered women in danger. "They didn't think about domestic violence enough, and how they're endangering us because of their decision."
"I felt like Nicole deserved better. We all deserved better," Jessica said.
And what would they say to the jurors? Carmen: "I would like for them to think the next time they hear of a battered woman being killed. What was the message that they sent? How many women are going to lose their lives this weekend because of it?"
These women are tough. They see themselves as survivors of domestic violence, and they know that they will survive the verdict of the Simpson trial as well.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.