OPED: O.J., Trump and domestic violence

Starita Smith
Tribune News Service

There are a few photos of President Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman, and O.J. Simpson, a convicted felon who was recently granted parole, standing together and smiling.

Former NFL football star O.J. Simpson enters for his parole hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nev., on Thursday, July 20, 2017. Simpson was convicted in 2008 of enlisting some men he barely knew, including two who had guns, to retrieve from two sports collectibles sellers some items that Simpson said were stolen from him a decade earlier. (Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, Pool)

The photos were taken decades ago, before allegations arose about their behavior toward women. Trump became president even after an "Access Hollywood" video showed him bragging that he could get away with sexual assault. He even boasted in vulgar terms of his efforts to have sex with a married woman.

Simpson, a former professional football player and movie actor, was the defendant in the "trial of the century" in 1995. His dream team of lawyers managed to get him acquitted on charges of murdering his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

When Simpson was asking to be paroled last week, he lied about himself, said CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, author of "The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson," a book that was made into a TV miniseries. Simpson portrayed himself as a peaceful type who never threatened anyone with a weapon and said he led a "conflict-free life."

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Toobin pointed out that Simpson pleaded guilty in 1989 and was convicted of beating his late wife so severely she ended up in the hospital. His punishment was psychiatric counseling. The delusions he still clings to reflect old myths that violence in the home is no one else's business.

Nicole's sister Denise Brown testified that, one evening, when she was at a bar with Nicole and O.J., Simpson grabbed his wife's crotch and said loudly, "This is where babies come from and this belongs to me."

Years later, Donald Trump, in similar, swaggering style, bragged about grabbing women by the crotch.

Trump and Simpson's boorish behavior reduces women to sexual objects and deprives them of their humanity. It is at the heart of the cycle of misogynist violence. The physical, sexual and emotional abuse all escalate as the perpetrators feel they are losing control of their partners.

Every day, nearly three people are murdered by their intimate partners, according to the Bureau of Justice statistics. A new report by the Centers for Disease Control, using data from 18 states, found that 55 percent of the homicides of women from 2003 to 2014 involved domestic violence, almost always by an intimate partner of the deceased.

Both Trump and Simpson have, in their public statements and allegedly in their private lives, contributed to a culture of violence against women. By minimizing and denying that anyone was hurt by their acts, they have helped perpetuate this culture.

We all need a better understanding of domestic violence to recognize controlling personalities and toxic patterns in relationships. We all must be less willing to look the other way when men degrade women through word and deed. We have been slowly and unevenly improving, but both O.J. Simpson and Donald Trump demonstrate that, as a culture, we have a lot more work to do.

— Starita Smith is an award-winning writer and editor based in Irving, Texas.