But Nicole’s older sister was worried. On Feb. 3, a weeping, distraught Denise Brown testified in court that one evening in the early ’80s she had been with Nicole and O.J. at their home after dinner at a Mexican restaurant.
When Denise accused O.J. of taking Nicole for granted, “he got extremely upset,” she recounted. “He started yelling at me, ‘I give her everything.’ A whole fight broke out… He threw her against a wall, picked her up, threw her out of the house.”
Denise stayed up all night with Nicole, trying to persuade her to leave O.J. Nicole promised she would. But when Nicole returned to pick up her clothes, Denise later told Sheila Weller, “of course, he schmoozed her back in.”
Today the Brown family believes that O.J. not only beat Nicole, he murdered her. But in the weeks just after O.J.’s arrest, they contended that Nicole was not a battered woman.
Richard Gelles, director of the Family Violence Research Program at the University of Rhode Island, attributes this apparent blind spot to what he calls “The Burning Bed phenomenon” – named for a 1984 TV movie about a battered wife. “To be recognized as a battered woman at risk,” he says, “you have to look the way Farrah Fawcett looked in that movie. You have to be covered with black-and-blue marks and be ferociously beaten. Nicole’s family and friends very seldom – and most of them never – saw strong physical evidence, as she apparently hid it very well with makeup.”
Her extraordinary physical presence may, in a tragic paradox, have been among Nicole’s fatal weaknesses.
“She was very tough, very powerful,” says her friend Candace Garvey, wife of former baseball star Steve Garvey. “When she walked into a room, every head would turn.”
One neighbor recalls a scorching day when Nicole was wearing a heavy shawl. “The shawl slipped, and I saw faint bruises on her right arm,” he says. “She said she’d been knocking around with the kids and things got a little rough.”
The neighbor was aware of O.J.’s jealous rages, but he immediately dismissed the notion of physical abuse. “She was a ballsy woman,” he says. “You couldn’t imagine that she’d take that stuff.”
Why Nobody Helped Nicole People Weekly (February 1995)
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
Hello again! As this blog post begins with two apologies, my first apology is that even though January is well and truly upon us and the month of February is now beckoning; I would still like to wish you all a very ‘Happy New Year’!
And secondly, I apologise for the lack of recent updates about Nicole and to my chagrin having realised that I had posted my last story about her in September!
In my defence, I can only say that I have been very busy with other projects and as some of which were and are about Nicole; I had by no means forgotten about her…
Already 20015 promises to be interesting year with the release of the much anticipated ‘American Crime Story: The People v. O.J Simpson’ which will share the tales of the trial that begin an incredible twenty years ago this month!
The mini-series has been inspired by the fabulous book The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin and will feature John Travolta and David Schwimmer as the two ‘Bobs’, the former as Robert Shapiro, Simpson’s swathe and duplicitous defence lawyer and the latter as Robert Kardashian, Simpson’s mysteriously conflicted friend, former spouse of Kris and the lawyer whose jaw-dropping expression as the ‘Not Guilty’ verdict was delivered remains burned in the image of that unforgettable day.
A statement from the television channel FX, the producers of the ‘American Crime Story’ revealed that ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’ will share the tales of the “the chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and manoeuvring on both sides of the court, and how a combination of prosecution overconfidence, defence shrewdness, and the LAPD’s history with the city’s African-American community gave the jury what it needed: reasonable doubt.”
Personally speaking, I have never had any doubts, reasonable or otherwise as to the question of Simpson’s guilt!
As the ‘People v. O.J. Simpson’ is certain to shine the spotlight upon Simpson who is currently languishing inside the notorious Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada for anything from nine to thirty three years for his part in an armed confrontation in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007; I was disappointed to learn of the statement from Denise Brown that she had withdrawn her support for the Heart & Soul Food, a film that would focus on the life and the memories of her younger sister.
Denise had personally launched the idea for Heart & Soul Food through Kickstarter, the crowd funding website with Jimi James, Message Mon in 2014 to raise $360,000 in a campaign that would last 55 days; Nicole’s age.
Having taken a look at the campaign on Kickstarter today and even though 14 backers have pledged at total of $403, the message board simply reads Funding Canceled: Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on January 5.
The statement by Denise on her decision remains unequivocal: “The minute people said you have to market this with Simpson’s name I said no,” she says. “I won’t do anything to acknowledge the acquittal this year. So many are jumping on the bandwagon and doing the same old stuff, and I thought this could be different because the story is different. But I won’t go there.”
As Denise is apparently ‘brainstorming other ways to honor her sister’s life.'; I still wonder about the publication of her book that never was.
Duefor publication in October 1998 by Harpercollins, Nicole’s Story promised to offer ‘a compelling portrait of her late sister which serves a two-fold purpose: to introduce readers to the smart, beautiful, and nurturing woman whom she loved; and to warn other women of the dangers of staying in an abusive relationship.’
With the promise of sixteen pages of colour photographs, this is the book I would love to read and I can’t imagine that I would be alone in thinking this!
Surely a balanced and realistic portrayal by those who actually knew and loved Nicole could begin the long process of shifting the spotlight away from the man who took her life and that of Ron Goldman one Sunday evening in June over twenty years ago.
Alas, until that time comes, I shall continue to do all that I can to keep the memory of Nicole alive…
Thank you for Remembering Nicole!
As I’ve been doing a little New Year dusting and cleaning (metaphorically of course!) with some of my blogs; the links below will transport you to the only sites that I now publish…
In the wake of the disappointing but not entirely unexpected verdict in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius, I came across this small snippet of an article written by the journalist Amanda Platell for the Daily Mail and as she managed to capture my feelings in such a succinct and poignant way, I reproduce here in full.
For what’s worth, I believe that to pump four or five bullets into an unarmed individual in a bathroom and with no means of escape justifies the charge of murder in my opinion.
Holding a good thought for the family and loved ones of Reeva Steenkamp…
I have long been a fan of the outspoken and controversial writing of Andrea Dworkin, the noted campaigner for civil rights legislation and a well-worn copy of her book Life and Death published in 1997 with a chapter devoted to the memory of Nicole, has pride of place on my bookshelf.
What follows is an article by Dworkin and published in the New York Times in January 1995 and reproduced in full…
Thank you for Remembering Nicole!
In Nicole Brown Simpson’s Words. Words Matter.
O.J. Simpson’s defense team asked Judge Lance A. Ito to order the prosecution to say domestic discord rather than domestic violence or even spousal abuse–already euphemisms for wife-beating–and to disallow the words battered wife and stalker. Ito refused to alter reality by altering language but some media complied–for example, “Rivera Live,” where domestic discord became a new term of art. The lawyer who successfully defended William Kennedy Smith on a rape charge also used that term systematically.
Where is the victim’s voice? Where are her words?
“I’m scared,” Nicole Brown told her mother a few months before she was killed. “I go to the gas station, he’s there. I go to the Payless Shoe Store, and he’s there. I’m driving, and he’s behind me.”
Nicole’s ordinary words of fear, despair and terror told to friends, and concrete descriptions of physical attacks recorded in her diary, are being kept from the jury. Insignificant when she was alive–because they didn’t save her–the victim’s words remain insignificant in death: excluded from the trial of her accused murderer, called “hearsay” and not admissible in a legal system that has consistently protected or ignored the beating and sexual abuse of women by men, especially by husbands.
Nicole called a battered women’s shelter five days before her death. The jury will not have to listen–but we must. Evidence of the attacks on her by Simpson that were witnessed in public will be allowed at trial. But most of what a batterer does is in private. The worst beatings, the sustained acts of sadism, have no witnesses.
Only she knows.
To refuse to listen to Nicole Brown Simpson is to refuse to know.
The law, including the FBI, and social scientists used to maintain that wife-beating did not exist in the United States. But in recent years, the FBI acknowledged that wife-beating is this country’s most commonly committed violent crime.
Such a change happens this way. First, there is a terrible and intimidating silence–it can last centuries. Inside that silence, men have a legal or a tacit right to beat their wives. Then, with the support of a strong political movement, victims of the abuse speak out about what has been done to them and by whom. They break the silence. One day, enough victims have spoken–sometimes in words, sometimes by running away or seeking refuge or striking back or killing in self-defense–that they can be counted and studied: Social scientists find a pattern of injury and experts describe it.
The words of experts matter. They are listened to respectfully, are often paid to give evidence in legal cases. Meanwhile, the voice of the victim still has no social standing or legal significance. She still has no credibility such that each of us–and the law–is compelled to help her.
We blame her, as the batterer did. We ask why she stayed, though we, of course, were not prepared to stand between her and the batterer so that she could leave. And if, after she is dead, we tell the police that we heard the accused murderer beat her in 1977, and saw her with black eyes–as Nicole’s neighbors did–we will not be allowed to testify, which may be the only justice in this, since it has taken us 17 years to bother to speak at all.
I was a battered wife; I had such neighbors.
Every battered woman learns early on not to expect help. A battered woman confides in someone, when she does, to leave a trail. She overcomes her fear of triggering violence in the batterer if he finds out that she has spoken in order to leave a verbal marker somewhere, with someone. She thinks the other person’s word will be believed later.
Every battered woman faces death more than once, and each time the chance is real: The batterer decides. Eventually, she’s fractured inside by the continuing degradation and her emotional world is a landscape of desperation.
Of course, she smiles in public and is a good wife. He insists–and so do we.
The desperation is part fear–fear of pain, fear of dying–and part isolation, a brutal aloneness, because everything has failed–every call for help to anyone, every assumption about love, every hope for self-respect and even a shred of dignity.
What dignity is there, after all, in confessing, as Nicole did in her diary, that O.J. started beating her on a street in New York and, in their hotel room, “continued to beat me for hours as I kept crawling for the door.”
He kept hitting her while sexually using her, which is rape–because no meaningful consent is possible or plausible in the context of this violence.
Every battered woman’s life has in it many rapes like this one. Sometimes, one complies without the overt violence but in fear of it. Or sometimes, one initiates sex to try to stop or head off a beating.
Of course, there are also the so-called good times–when romance overcomes the memory of violence. Both the violation and the complicity make one deeply ashamed. The shame is corrosive. Whatever the batterer left, it attacks. Why would one tell? How can one face it?
Those of us who are not jurors have a moral obligation to listen to Nicole Simpson’s words: to how O.J. Simpson locked her in a wine closet after beating her and watched TV while she begged him to let her out; to how, in a different hotel room, “O.J. threw me against the walls . . . and on the floor. Put bruises on my arm and back. The window scared me. Thought he’d throw me out.”
We need to hear how he “threw a fit,chased me, grabbed me, threw me into walls. Threw all my clothes out of the window into the street three floors below. Bruised me.”
We need to hear how he stalked her after their divorce. “Everywhere I go,” she told a friend, “he shows up. I really think he is going to kill me.”
We need, especially, to hear her call to a battered women’s shelter five days before her murder. In ruling that call inadmissible, Ito said: “To the man or woman on the street, the relevance and probative value of such evidence is both obvious and compelling . . . . However, the laws and appellate-court decisions that must be applied . . . held otherwise.” The man and woman on the street need to hear what was obvious to her: The foreknowledge that death was stalking her.
We need to believe Nicole’s words to know the meaning of terror–it isn’t a movie of the week–and to face the treason we committed against her life by abandoning her.
When I was being beaten by a shrewd and dangerous man 25 years ago, I was buried alive in silence. I didn’t know that such horror had ever happened to anyone else. The silence was unbreachable and unbearable. Imagine Nicole being buried alive, then dead, in noise–our pro-woman, pro-equality noise; or our pro-family, pro-law-and-order noise. For what it’s worth–to Nicole nothing–the shame of battery is all ours.
When I first heard about what had happened, I, like most people, went through denial of it ever happening. Then I realized the severity and nature of what had happened and felt a sense of compassion for both sides.
I still feel that way. You just can’t get over it. You hope there’s an ugly monster out there other than the person they have charged with this crime. And you sit and wait and hope it’s not true…
The thing that really gets me about the media coverage is the fact that there are people who have no compassion, and it shows. It doesn’t say a lot for our society or where we are headed or what we have evolved into when we take a tragedy like this and turn it into a profit.
Or we take tragedy like this and sensationalize it for ratings. I think that’s very, very unfair, not only for O.J., but for the victims and their families as well.
In this society of ours, once there is blood, we can’t help but feed on it. And that’s definitely true in this case because you have so much media coverage…
Like I said earlier, you hope there is a monster out there that they are going to find that committed this horrible crime, and everything will halfway get back to normal.
But even if O.J. is found not guilty, his life will never get back to normal. If he’s cleared of all charges, there are some sick people in this society who will exploit him – to get him to show up at certain functions and the like just to sell tickets or whatever. And because of the tremendous costs he’ll have to bear to get through this, he will have to open himself up to that.
Walter Payton (Hall of Fame football star and holder of NFL Career Rushing) Record Ebony Magazine (September 1994)
There is always a yin and yang to things. Someone I know who has access to defense information told me in the corridor during a break that the defense really believes it’s going to win this case. “They think the autopsy photographs are going to work in their favor,” this person said.
“They’re going to bring in expert witnesses who are going to say that this could only be the work of a professional killer from a Colombian drug cartel, not a man like O.J. Simpson.”
Faye Resnick has been subpoenaed by the defense and, like Kato Kaelin, will surely be declared a hostile witness. She has been told to appear on July 3, which happens to be her birthday, and she is very nervous at the prospect. Evidently the defense is going to try to fit her right into the Colombian-drug-cartel scenario.
The defense indicated early in the proceedings that the Colombians were after her, not Nicole.
What surprises one about Faye Resnick is how bright she is. And fearless. I don’t think she’s going to be the pushover the defense is expecting. She knows a lot about O.J. and drugs. She told me that she had taken drugs with him. She’d think nothing of spilling the beans on the stand if the defense got rough with her.
She knows full well that Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman weren’t murdered by a Colombian drug cartel who thought they were killing her because she owed them money. I’ve seen Resnick roar with laughter at that idea.
Letter from Los Angeles by Dominick Dunne for Vanity Fair (August 1995)
As well as an abiding interest in the life and legacy of Nicole Brown Simpson, I am also an artist who creates ‘Small Worlds’ of realism and fantasy in 12th scale miniature.
“I just don’t see how our stories compare -I was so bad because I wore sweats & left shoes around & didn’t keep a perfect house or comb my hair the way you like it – or had dinner ready at the precise moment you walked through the door or that I just plain got on your nerves sometimes.
I just don’t see how that compares to infidelity, wife beating, verbal abuse –
I just don’t think everybody goes through this…. I called the cops to save my life whether you believe it or not..”
These are the harrowing words written by Nicole shortly before her brutal murder on Sunday June 12 1994 in the garden of her Brentwood home in Los Angeles as her two children Justin and Sydney were sleeping.
Nicole’s former husband O.J. Simpson was subsequently arrested, tried and acquitted of her murder and that of her friend Ronald Goldman in a relentless blaze of publicity the following year.
I began to read about Nicole shortly after her murder in 1994, she was the focus for the research and publication of my BA thesis in 1999 and I have been reading about her ever since.
She was also the inspiration behind the creation of my “California style” ocean-front house titled ‘Nicole’s House’ or ‘The Ghost of Brentwood’.
In June 1994 and shortly before her brutal murder, Nicole was making plans to leave her home in Brentwood in order to escape the abuse and obsession that had characterised her long relationship with Simpson.
Only days before her death, Nicole had seen a beach house in Malibu available for rent and she was excited and positive at the prospect of a move there with their children.
‘Nicole’s House’ is a House created in 12th scale miniature that tells several narratives:
A recreation of some of the principle rooms at 875 South Bundy Drive as they were discovered in the early hours of Monday June 13 1994 as the investigation into the murders of Nicole and Ronald Lyle Goldman was underway.
Additional rooms are created as a tribute to the style and essence of Nicole who loved the style of interior design that has come to typify the “California Look”.
Finally, as we know that Nicole was planning a move to a beach house in Malibu, ‘Nicole’s House’ is a poignant reminder of “what could have been”.
To follow the story of ‘Nicole’s House’ here on WordPress, simply click on the link: Just a ‘Small’ House!