From Rihanna to Nicole Brown: How to Spot an Abusive Relationship

A 2004 National Institute of Justice study finds that the rate of violence against women increases as male unemployment increases. When a woman's male partner is employed, the rate of domestic violence is 4.7 percent. It rises to 7.5 percent when the male partner experiences one period of unemployment. It increases to 12.3 percent when the male experiences two or more periods of unemployment, according to the study.

A Personal Association

Brown says she learned her sister, Nicole Brown Simpson, was an abuse victim after reading her journals following her 1994 Los Angeles murder.

Nicole, who was the former wife of once-beloved football star O.J. Simpson, detailed her violent marriage in her diary. Her turbulent relationship was exposed publicly following an infamous 1989 New Year's Day beating. Police answered 911 calls from her home and found a beaten and frightened Nicole.

Eventually, Simpson pleaded no contest to assault charges and was ordered to pay $470 in fines in addition to paying $500 to a shelter for battered women. Simpson was also required to receive domestic violence counseling.

Later, Simpson would be prosecuted for his ex-wife's gory murder, but a California jury acquitted him. He was found liable for the deaths in a civil trial but has yet to pay the more than $30 million in damages to the victims' families. (Nicole Brown Simpson's friend Ron Goldman was the other murder victim.)

Following her sister's death, Brown began a foundation in her sibling's name that is committed to aiding domestic abuse victims.

Breaking the Cycle

Brown says many times women don't leave until the violence affects their children, and that victims return to their abusers between seven and 10 times before leaving their partners permanently.

And while many abusers claim they will change their violent ways, Brown says they have to want to change and get help for that to occur.

Domestic abuse isn't a mental disorder, but a learned behavior, according to Brown. Abusers need tools to learn how not to be abusive. Even with a good program, though, treatment plans will not work overnight.

Brown says an abuser would need at least three years in a treatment program.

For friends and family members seeking to aid a victim, Brown suggests they undertake extensive research on domestic violence so they can present the victim with the big picture.

For additional information on domestic violence, check out the links below.

The Nicole Brown Foundation
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Violence Against Women organizations by state
Alliance for Children and Families

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