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‘An Abuse Thing’

O.J. Simpson’s Daughter Calls Police After Fight With Father 24, 2004

Miami — Miami-Dade police arrived at O.J. Simpson’s Florida home earlier this month after his teenage daughter placed an emotional 911 call following an argument with her father, authorities said.

Sydney Simpson, 17, was crying when she made the call on the morning of Jan. 18 and asked police to assist in what she termed as “an abuse thing.”

When they arrived, the girl said she and her father “got into an argument over family issues,” according to the one-page police report. No charges were filed and the girl left the house to calm down, according to the report.

Police could not say Wednesday if Simpson was home when officers arrived. The former football star’s attorney said he was not.

“There is nothing that occurred,” said attorney Yale L. Galanter. “What I do know was Mr. Simpson wasn’t there.”

Simpson was acquitted of the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, but a civil jury later held him liable and ordered him to pay the victims’ survivors $33.5 million.

Interview With Hedda Nussbaum

Larry King Live/June 16, 2003

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive: Hedda Nussbaum. Sixteen years ago in the crime that shocked America, her husband Joel killed their only daughter and brutally beat her, turning her into a grotesque symbol of domestic violence. And next year he gets out of jail, and now Hedda Nussbaum speaks out next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. Welcome to a very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE tonight. Our guest is Hedda Nussbaum. Hedda Nussbaum is the woman whose battered face became a national symbol of domestic abuse. On the morning of November 2, 1987, New York City police responded to a 911 call from Hedda. Entering the Greenwich Village apartment that Hedda shared with her common-law husband, wealthy attorney Joel Steinberg, police found the couple’s illegally adopted daughter, Lisa, beaten and unconscious. Hedda and Joel were arrested. Six-year-old Lisa died on November 5. Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges against Hedda. Joel was charged with second-degree murder and first- degree manslaughter, convicted of manslaughter in 1988 after a televised trial that included seven days of chilling testimony from Hedda. Joel was given a sentence of 8-and-a-third to 25 years, and is due to be released from prison in June of next year.

And all of this, it seems like yesterday, but it does go back to 1987, these events now approaching 16 years ago. Before we tell the whole story, were you surprised that he only got manslaughter?

NUSSBAUM: I was — not really. I was relieved that they convicted him of something because it took the jury, I think, six or seven days of deliberation. And apparently, they — a lot of the jurors were thinking that I had done it. And I was glad that he got…

KING: That’s what the defense tried to do, right?

NUSSBAUM: The defense tried to say that I…


NUSSBAUM: … that was the culprit, yes. KING: Let’s go back. Where did you meet Joel?

NUSSBAUM: I met him at a party in New York City. We — I was looking to go to — to join a half share in the Hamptons, where singles go, and…

KING: What were you doing at the time?

NUSSBAUM: … he was at the party. What was I doing at the time?

KING: For a living.

NUSSBAUM: I had just started as an associate editor at Random House, in children’s books.

KING: And Joel was a practicing attorney?

NUSSBAUM: He was a practicing attorney.

KING: And the romance developed there, from that…

NUSSBAUM: The romance developed pretty quickly, yes.

KING: You liked each other right away?

NUSSBAUM: We liked each other right away. I dated him for maybe two months and broke it off because I thought he was pushing me to date him, see him almost every night. When I would say I had something else to do, he would always convince me to change my mind. And I felt it was my fault, not his, that I was too easily persuaded.

KING: He was a control freak, in other words.

NUSSBAUM: Well, he was, but I didn’t see it that way. I thought it was because of me, that I was too easily persuaded, and broke it off with him because I felt that he brought that out in me.

KING: Why did you get back together?

NUSSBAUM: Well, I did join that house in the Hamptons. And one day, he showed up. And for a lot of reasons…

KING: One thing led to another.

NUSSBAUM: … we ended up going out that night to dinner, and then he drove me back to the city, and I was in love.

KING: And he was in love.

NUSSBAUM: And he was in love, apparently.

KING: Why — now, I’m saying this because I culturally come from the same area. Why didn’t the Nussbaums marry?

NUSSBAUM: Why didn’t… KING: Why didn’t you get married?

NUSSBAUM: I would have loved to get married, only he didn’t want to.

KING: Why?

NUSSBAUM: He said when two people are committed, you don’t need that piece of paper. And even though I really wanted marriage, I allowed him to convince me of it and I went along with him, just as I went along with a lot of things that he wanted that I didn’t.

KING: Were your parents living?

NUSSBAUM: My parents were living then, yes.

KING: Did they like him?

NUSSBAUM: They loved him. They thought he was terrific.

KING: How about his parents?

NUSSBAUM: His mother was a live then.

KING: Did she like you? You get along with her?

NUSSBAUM: Yes. Yes. Everything…

KING: So you settle into a Greenwich Village apartment? That’s where you lived?

NUSSBAUM: That’s where he lived, and I moved in with him.

KING: All right. And you then continued to work at Random House, and he practiced law.

NUSSBAUM: Correct.

KING: Now, how did Lisa come into the picture? Was there abuse before Lisa?

NUSSBAUM: There was abuse. There wasn’t any abuse for three years. Nothing physical, anyway.

KING: It was happy for three years?

NUSSBAUM: Well, for three years, what he was doing — I was very, very shy at that time. And he started building me up, helping me to come out of my shell, which I liked. I thought it was terrific. Almost every night, he would work with me almost like a therapist. And it started to actually work, so I thought he was terrific. I started coming out of the wallpaper. Also, when we’d go to parties, which was frequent, he would critique me afterwards. And he’d say, You should have said this, You should have done that. And as I said, it really started to work, so I thought he was the greatest.

KING: He was a social person.

NUSSBAUM: Yes, he was. And I was very shy.

KING: And he was successful.

NUSSBAUM: And he was successful as a lawyer.

KING: Did he also use — this came up at the trial. Did he use cocaine?

NUSSBAUM: Not at that time. At that time, he wouldn’t even take an aspirin. He said, I won’t put any foreign substance into my body. But over time, he started representing drug clients, and eventually, the drug use started.

KING: The abuse of you, though — nothing for three years.

NUSSBAUM: Nothing for three years.

KING: Now, how does Lisa come into the picture? Why — she was never legally adopted, right?

NUSSBAUM: The adoption was never completed, so…

KING: Why not? Why didn’t you go through — first of all, why didn’t you have children?

NUSSBAUM: Well, we tried.


NUSSBAUM: And I just wasn’t conceiving. We both really wanted children very much. I went through all the tests. The first test they always do on the man because that’s the simplest. And then I went through all the other tests. They never found anything wrong.

KING: But you just…

NUSSBAUM: But since Joel did…

KING: Could it have been stress?

NUSSBAUM: I don’t know. Well, today, I think it was him because eventually, they discovered he had a low sperm count — years later, but…

KING: Right. Now, how does — how do you — you mean you adopted Lisa but never — explain what happened.

NUSSBAUM: OK. What happened was that in his legal practice, Joel sometimes did some private adoptions. And so through that means, when he learned of a child that seemed appropriate, he met with Lisa’s birth mother before Lisa was born and told her that he was going to find a home for the child. She did not know that it was going to be him. And apparently…

KING: You knew all this.

NUSSBAUM: I knew that he’d met with her, but he told me she said she didn’t care if the couple was married or not, she didn’t care what religion they were. That’s not what she said later. She said she wanted only a Catholic family, and she wanted a married couple. But I didn’t know that.

KING: So did he bring home a baby to you and say, This is our baby?

NUSSBAUM: Well, I — we were — we knew that the baby was going to be born, and we — a day after she was born, she was brought to our house by one of the doctors.

KING: But did you know that he didn’t tell the birth mother that you two would be the parents?

NUSSBAUM: I — yes, I knew that.

KING: So you knew that this was not a legal adoption.

NUSSBAUM: Well, I wanted it to be legal.

KING: Did he do all the papers and everything?

NUSSBAUM: He did not do all the papers. First thing, you need a consent agreement.

KING: Yes.

NUSSBAUM: And he said that she wasn’t sure if she wanted the father’s name on the birth certificate and so I was…

KING: He conned you.

NUSSBAUM: He conned me. And I was trying to reword the agreement, and so on. But as time went on, as years started to pass, I was afraid — I mean, he — keeping this child…

KING: You found out that you didn’t have Lisa.

NUSSBAUM: Well, I knew that we had never made it official. Yes. I knew that.

KING: OK. We’ll be right back with Hedda Nussbaum and more of this tragic story. Don’t go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accused child murderer Joel Steinberg heard testimony from former love Hedda Nussbaum which for the first time directly linked him to violence against 6-year-old Lisa Steinberg the night she fell into a coma.

NUSSBAUM: One thing he said was — about Lisa, I knocked her down, and she didn’t want to get up again. This staring business had gotten to be too much for her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nussbaum said Steinberg believed she and Lisa often hypnotized people by staring at them. He complained about it that night, while allegedly free-basing cocaine.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hedda Nussbaum resumed her testimony, describing how in the months before 6-year-old Lisa Steinberg died, she saw her lover, Joel Steinberg, strike the child.

NUSSBAUM: Joel grabbed Lisa by the arms and shoulders, shook her, threw her down on the floor. When she got up, he grabbed her, shook her again and threw her down. And that happened at least two or three times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She told how Joel Steinberg ordered her to dress Lisa in long-sleeved clothes to cover up bruises.


KING: All right, we’re back. Now Hedda and Joel Nussbaum have little Lisa.

NUSSBAUM: Joel Steinberg.

KING: Joel — oh, that’s — his name was Steinberg.

NUSSBAUM: His name was Steinberg.

KING: You never changed your name.

NUSSBAUM: I’m Nussbaum. No, I never did.

KING: OK. Now you’re raising Lisa, right?


KING: Is that going well?

NUSSBAUM: That was going wonderfully. She was a marvelous baby, a bright child.

KING: And you loved being a mother.

NUSSBAUM: I loved being a mother. I adored being a mother. I had waited so long and thought I would never have a child. So even the nastiest tasks, like, you know, changing diapers and…

KING: You liked it all.

NUSSBAUM: … heating bottles — I adored it. I loved it. KING: And what kind of father was Joel?

NUSSBAUM: Well, when Lisa was a baby, he didn’t seem very interested. But as she started getting older, he became a really doting father. She used to sit on his lap when they watched TV at night. She — he used to take her — as she started getting older, when she was 5 and 6, he used to take her with him to business lunches or business dinner when she was in school during the day.

KING: Did you ever hear during this period of time from the birth mother or…


KING: OK. So it’s — is it — and he was good to you? I mean, would you say, at this point, she’s 5 years old, this was a normal, happy home?

NUSSBAUM: Not at this point, no. He started — the first time he ever hit me was three years after we were together. That was 1978.

KING: Before Lisa.

NUSSBAUM: Before Lisa. But at that point, it was — the first time he ever hit me, I was shocked and he seemed shocked. He took me in his arms. I thought it was a fluke. I thought he was so terrific. He’d been helping me so much. I gave him credit for all the raises and promotions I was getting at Random House because he kept pushing me into them, even though I realized they never would have…


KING: So you let that go by.

NUSSBAUM: So I figured — the way I think of it now is I put it in a drawer in the back of my mind and closed the drawer.

KING: Yes.

NUSSBAUM: And at that point…


NUSSBAUM: … the assaults were very occasional. Maybe another one was six months later or so.

KING: Did any occur while Lisa was growing up?

NUSSBAUM: Yes. They — as the years…

KING: And you dismissed every one of them?

NUSSBAUM: As the years went on, they started getting more frequent and worse.

KING: Why did you dismiss them? Why didn’t you leave? NUSSBAUM: I tried to leave five times — actually, six times I did leave.

KING: And he forcibly…

NUSSBAUM: Well, the first time I tried to leave, he came home while I was packing. And he said, What are you doing? I said, I’m leaving. Next thing I knew, I was down on the floor with an injured leg. He knocked me down, put me into an ice-cold bath to take down the swelling and I think probably realized how much I hated the cold water and started using that as what he called a “discipline.” If he didn’t like something I did, he’d say, Get in the tub! And that meant cold baths, which were horrible, I mean, to sit in ice-cold water…

KING: I know this is asked all the time of women who are battered. Why didn’t you just take Lisa one day and go?

NUSSBAUM: I did go five times.

KING: And he brought you back?

NUSSBAUM: And I — no, well, either I — I would always run into people who didn’t — weren’t close to him, didn’t know him, I didn’t tell them why. I didn’t want people to know I was being battered. And they would…

KING: Couldn’t they see it?

NUSSBAUM: They wouldn’t — no, at the time, they usually couldn’t. They would convince me to go back. Or I’d call him so he wouldn’t worry, and he’d talk me into coming back. And a couple of times, I ended up at a hospital when I was in bad shape.

KING: Didn’t you report him?

NUSSBAUM: I — the first time I went to a hospital was the first time he hit me, 1978. And I told the doctor, I said, My boyfriend hit me. And then I realized, My goodness, he’s a lawyer. And he’s this wonderful man who’s helping me so much. I said, No, no. Erase that. Cross that out. And I have a copy of that report, that medical report.


NUSSBAUM: And it has a little line through the word “boyfriend.” She did it. She crossed it out. And it was in the hospital records for years. But in those days, no one ever — I mean, who knew anything about domestic violence?

KING: Why didn’t you report him later?

NUSSBAUM: Because I — I was really brainwashed. I mean, he was — he was…

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you were — you were totally brainwashed.

NUSSBAUM: I was totally…

KING: You were whacked.

NUSSBAUM: … brainwashed. I was. As the years went on more and more, he convinced me he was a healer. He convinced me he had magical powers. I mean, it really — he was using food deprivation, sleep deprivation.

KING: You left your job, I assume.

NUSSBAUM: I was fired because…

KING: How old was Lisa at death?

NUSSBAUM: Past 6. She was almost 6-and-a-half.

KING: When did he start abusing her?

NUSSBAUM: Not until very close to the end.

KING: Why did he start hitting her?

NUSSBAUM: I don’t know. I can only surmise that — because she was getting older, and since what he — what abusive men want is power and control. And I guess he couldn’t control her so easily anymore because she was getting older. I don’t really know what happened or why. I never saw him hit her, by the way.

KING: What do you mean? You never…

NUSSBAUM: I didn’t see him hit her.

KING: When did he hit her? When you weren’t there or…


KING: You’d be in another room? I mean…

NUSSBAUM: I’d be in another room or I’d be out of the house. I didn’t see him hit her.

KING: You’d come home and you’d see her. You knew she was hit, right?

NUSSBAUM: There were sometimes that I did realize what must have happened, but by that point, I was just — I was out of it already.

KING: Did she ever tell you, Mommy, he’s hitting me?

NUSSBAUM: No. She never did. I never talked about it, and I guess she followed the pattern. She never talked about it.

KING: What did you think when you looked at her? Didn’t it show on her?

NUSSBAUM: Well, there was one time when it did show on her, yes. There was…

KING: Did you…


NUSSBAUM: … a bruise on her head, and Joel said when she went to school, to say her brother had hit her. Her brother at that time was a baby. And so I knew what must have happened. I had to realize it.

KING: So she had a brother?

NUSSBAUM: She had a brother. There was another child that…

KING: Illegally adopted?

NUSSBAUM: Well, I don’t like the term “illegally adopted.” We did get a consent agreement that time, but the adoption was never completed, obviously…

KING: Where is that boy?

NUSSBAUM: He’s back with his birth mother.

KING: Did you get to know him well?

NUSSBAUM: Oh, yes. Yes, he was 16 — I got him also a day after he was born, and he was 16 months old at the time.

KING: Didn’t you say to yourself at all — I guess we have to explain brainwashing, what happens.


KING: I’m in a bad marriage. I’m being — I’m in a bad relationship. I’m being whacked around. I worry about my daughter. I worry about this whole thing. And now we’re bringing a boy in?

NUSSBAUM: Well, I mean, from my point of view now, you know, I say this is a horrible home to have brought a child into. But at that point, I needed — I was totally — I was isolated from everybody. He had cut me off from my family, from my friends, from my job. I hardly ever went outside anymore.

You’ve probably heard of Stockholm syndrome…

KING: Yes.

NUSSBAUM: … where somebody, you know, who is abused reaches out, needs — needs that comfort. And what I’ve realized from working with battered women is that when there — not only do you reach out to the abuser, but if there’s a baby, you can hold that baby all the time. And a lot of women have told me they do. So I used to hold this child all the time, which I was told was good for him, too. And I think I really spoiled him because he wouldn’t go to sleep unless he was in my arms. KING: Incredible story. We’ll pick it up in a minute. You going to write a book, by the way?

NUSSBAUM: I have written a book. And one of the reasons I’m now giving interviews is that my agent right now has the book and is…

KING: Going to get it published.

NUSSBAUM: Trying to get it published. Yes.

KING: We’ll be right back with Hedda Nussbaum and more of this incredible tale. Don’t go away.



NUSSBAUM: I was giving her artificial respiration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was she breathing on her own?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had she regained consciousness at all?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was she moving on her own at all, ma’am?



KING: We’re back with Hedda Nussbaum. What killed Lisa?

NUSSBAUM: Well, the medical report said it was a subdural hematoma, which — apparently, they said she had been hit with great force to her head.

KING: Where were you when this happened?

NUSSBAUM: I was — I think I was in the bathroom.

KING: Were you on drugs?

NUSSBAUM: We had been doing free-base cocaine because Joel insisted that I do it with him. That last week, because I had such bad injuries to my leg, Joel was being the good, concerned spouse and saying, Well, you really shouldn’t do any because it’s not good for your circulation. So he was doing…


NUSSBAUM: … by that point, he was holding a kilo of cocaine for a client, and suddenly, the last few weeks, started doing it all the time and really became addicted. KING: With the little boy and Lisa in the house.

NUSSBAUM: Yes. But only at night, after they were asleep. Normally, that was the only time we did it. But then he started doing it all the time. He’d go into the bathroom and send Lisa outside to play with her friends, to roller skate, and so on.

KING: Lisa would appear to the outer world a normal child, at this point. Going to school?


KING: OK. And you are a whacked-out being possessed mother, right?

NUSSBAUM: I think that’s true, yes.

KING: Because you must know Lisa’s being hit. Don’t you know that?

NUSSBAUM: I knew it had happened, yes.

KING: Did you fear for her?

NUSSBAUM: I — I’m sure I did.

KING: Do you know why you were unable to run out in the street and say, Help me?

NUSSBAUM: By that point, he had convinced me that I couldn’t survive without him. When I say brainwashed, I mean this man was using every means in the book — I mean, he was really diabolical. I have sued Joel in civil court and…

KING: Since, you mean?

NUSSBAUM: Since, yes. At the hearing, we had a Bezel Vandercoke (ph), who is a professor at Harvard Law School — Medical School testified that when somebody is repeatedly traumatized, that in order to protect you, your own body secretes something called “endogenous opioids,” which numb you, numb the pain, numb the terror. But they make you numb, I was really numb by that time. I was like a zombie.

KING: Did you walk into the room and find Lisa?

NUSSBAUM: You mean…

KING: The circumstances surrounding the 911 call were what?

NUSSBAUM: No. What happened was I was in the bathroom, and Joel — that night, she was supposed to go out with him to dinner. He often took her out. And he was insisting that both of us drink more water, so we were — he forced us to eat hot peppers that night so that we would drink water. And then we did drink water. And Lisa…

KING: For what purpose? NUSSBAUM: Because he thought it was healthy for us to drink water. And Lisa said, Do you think Daddy’s going to take me out tonight? And I said, Go in and ask him. There was no reason to think that there was any — you know, he seemed in good humor, except for the fact that he was forcing us to eat the peppers. And she went in, and I left the kitchen and was in the bathroom. And he came in, and he was carrying her in his arms — limp, like this.

KING: Was she out?

NUSSBAUM: She was out. Unconscious. And I said, What happened? And he said, What’s the difference what happened? This is your child. Hasn’t this gone far enough? He was blaming it on me. And so…

KING: Did you see any knock on her head?

NUSSBAUM: I didn’t see anything, no.

KING: She was unconscious.

NUSSBAUM: She was unconscious. And then…


NUSSBAUM: … he went out to dinner.

KING: By himself?

NUSSBAUM: By himself, and left me with her, saying, Don’t worry. I’ll get her up when I come back. And I really had — he had convinced me he was a healer. And I believed absolutely that he was going to do that.

KING: So what did you do with her?

NUSSBAUM: I started giving her artificial respiration. I started while he was there and figured he knew what happened, if that was wrong, that he would tell me, That’s not going to help. And he showed me the proper way to give her artificial respiration. I thought I was helping her. Of course, it had no effect.

KING: What led you to call 911?


NUSSBAUM: My daughter (UNINTELLIGIBLE) she’s congested, and seems to have stopped breathing. She’s 6 years old.

911 OPERATOR: OK. She’s having difficulty breathing?

NUSSBAUM: She’s not breathing. I’m giving her mouth-to-mouth.

911 OPERATOR: OK, 6-year-old then. OK, I’m going to connect you to the ambulance.

(END AUDIO CLIP) NUSSBAUM: That was hours later, after he had come back and…

KING: Where is she, on the bed, lying on a bed?

NUSSBAUM: When I called 911, by that time, she was.

KING: Is she dead, at this point?

NUSSBAUM: No, she was — it was a few days.


NUSSBAUM: She was unconscious. And I said, OK, get her up, when he came home. And he said, No, we have to smoke first. He wanted to smoke cocaine. So we have to be relating to each other. Anyway, hours and hours were going by, and he’s smoking this and talking. And I keep running in to check on Lisa. And finally, I just said, This is ridiculous, you know? And so then he followed me…

KING: Where’s the little boy?

NUSSBAUM: He was sleeping.


NUSSBAUM: He was asleep. Anyway, he followed me and brought her into bed with him. And he didn’t get her up. I mean, all he did was put his arm on her, and it seemed her breathing became more regular, and I thought that was helping, at least. And hours went by. And finally he said, She’s stopped breathing. And I said, Should I call 911? And I had — I still — after all that, I had to ask him. And he said, No, wait. Let me try to revive her. I guess he was scared enough that he said, Call 911. And I did.

KING: And the police come, and everybody — the ambulance comes first, right? They take the child. When were you…


KING: … and Joel arrested?

NUSSBAUM: Well, the next morning, the — first Joel went to the hospital, and then he came back pretty quickly, which was a surprise to me. And some police came in and — anyway, they start questioning us. They didn’t believe the — I think, apparently, they didn’t believe the story that Joel…

KING: What was the story?

NUSSBAUM: … told. The story that he had told them at the hospital, which I backed up, was that she was choking on some vegetables and then stopped breathing.

KING: We’ll take a break, be right back with Hedda Nussbaum. Joel gets out next year. Don’t go away.


911 OPERATOR: Was she eating something? I’m just trying to find out why she would have stopped breathing.

NUSSBAUM: I think — I don’t — I don’t really know exactly why.

911 OPERATOR: You really don’t know? OK.

NUSSBAUM: Food’s coming up. She’s throwing up a lot of food, even water.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lisa Steinberg, age 6, the illegally adopted daughter who Nussbaum and Joel Steinberg, who died of abuse and neglect last year. The two were arrested together, but Steinberg faces the charge of second degree murder alone. Calling her a zombie battered beyond will, the prosecutors cleared Nussbaum and made her their star witness. She testified that Steinberg would beat Lisa and that she would do nothing about it.


KING: We’re back with Hedda Nussbaum. When did they arrest you?

NUSSBAUM: Well, they took us into the police station when the police came to house, and so we weren’t under arrest, they just wanted to question us. And they put me in a room by myself, and just the way you would see it on “NYPD Blue” or something, they left me in there for an hour, and then came back and questioned me more, then left me alone again. But at that point, I was sure that Lisa was going to be fine and I wouldn’t tell them what happened. I wouldn’t tell them the truth. I said she had bruises, she falls a lot roller skating. And I really believed she was going to be OK. And I kept asking them to call the hospital to find out how she was. And I was so surprised when they said, there was no change.

KING: You don’t know what Joel was telling them.

NUSSBAUM: No, I didn’t know what Joel was telling them. I assumed he was telling them the same story.

KING: Finally, what happened?

NUSSBAUM: Finally they said, do you want to talk — go down to the DA’s office and talk to them? And I said — or they said, we can read you your rights. And I said, read me my rights. And I preferred to be arrested at that point.

KING: Get a lawyer right away?

NUSSBAUM: Well, Joel had a friend of his who was a criminal lawyer. He called him to be a lawyer for both of us. And I went to Central Booking in Manhattan, was there a few hours and then went to the hospital. I was really in bad shape. I could have lost my leg or died of blood poisoning. The hospital — the doctor testified at Joel’s trial that within 48 hours, I would have been dead.

KING: You’re still not telling the police that Joel beat you or anything? You’re not telling…

NUSSBAUM: No, I was making up stories. Of course, they knew that it was true.

KING: And when did she die?

NUSSBAUM: She died four days later.

KING: You were on bail or were you in custody?

NUSSBAUM: I was in the hospital. I was in…

KING: With her when she died?

NUSSBAUM: No, not with her.

KING: You were not with her…

NUSSBAUM: I was in the hospital getting intravenous antibiotics.

KING: For yourself.

NUSSBAUM: For myself. And I was handcuffed to the bed with a 24-hour guard outside my door, which they said was for my own protection.

KING: Was this now a big story in all the news?

NUSSBAUM: It was a big story in all the news.

KING: And Joel? What happened to him?

NUSSBAUM: He went to Rikers Island.

KING: When did they decide to drop the charges against you?

NUSSBAUM: Several months later I was — I had agreed…

KING: To turn state’s evidence.

NUSSBAUM: Well, no. I had agreed that I would talk with the district attorney.

KING: Tell them about…

NUSSBAUM: Tell them about everything. And they eventually dropped the charges, because they believed what I said and they decided that I couldn’t have either physically or psychologically have committed it. KING: As soon as you learned that Lisa was dead…


KING: Why didn’t you hate your boyfriend? Why wouldn’t you be willing to tell them everything that minute, that second?

NUSSBAUM: I did. As soon as I heard she was dead, that day I told my attorney everything. That was Barry Scheck, and it was the first time I really was shocked that, you know, I didn’t think I would tell anybody, but I told him everything.

KING: Did you get to see Joel at all during this period?


KING: He was kept in a different prison, and you were — he was in a different jail, and you were released?

NUSSBAUM: I was never in prison. I was in the prison hospital, and then I was released to — not released, but I was put into a psychiatric ward at a hospital. Because I believed that Joel was a better parent. I believed that he had these magical powers, and they thought this women needs a little help.

KING: Did Joel say you did it?

NUSSBAUM: Not right then.

KING: When did he say you did it?

NUSSBAUM: There was an interview that he had given that was in “Vanity Fair” in which he said, I don’t know what happened, I wasn’t home. And I said, it looks like who was home at the time, when — I mean, he was home with her.

KING: What happened to the little baby? What was the boy’s name?

NUSSBAUM: Mitchell.

KING: He went back to his…

NUSSBAUM: He went back to his birth mother, and she’s never let me see him. So he’s now…

KING: You don’t know where he is?

NUSSBAUM: Yes, I know where he is.

KING: You could go and look at him, go to school, couldn’t you?

NUSSBAUM: Well, I don’t know exactly where he is. I mean, I know more or less the area where he is.

KING: What stopped the brainwash? NUSSBAUM: Well, I was in psychiatric hospital. First, I was in Columbia Presbyterian…

KING: This was before the trial.

NUSSBAUM: Before the trial. And then I went to Four Winds (ph) Hospital. The trial was a full year later. So, what happened was, I was talking to the district attorneys, but I still felt from all this brainwashing that I was still in love with Joel, and one day, something — it finally just all came together. And I couldn’t sleep that night. I got up with this book in which I drew pictures. It was a — and wrote…

KING: Journal.

NUSSBAUM: Journal. I went into another room and started drawing a picture of Joel, copy it from the newspaper.

KING: That’s the picture you drew?

NUSSBAUM: That’s the picture I drew. And suddenly, all of a sudden I just saw him for who he really is. My eyes opened.

KING: And you wrote this thing: “You lousy blank, blank. Blank, blank.”


KING: “Look what you did to me. You humiliated me. You kept me a prisoner. You beat me, all in front of our child. You tortured her too by doing that, you sick piece of blank, blank. You’re so cheap, you deprived her of the normal pleasures of childhood.”

NUSSBAUM: After — I call this “the day my eyes opened.”

KING: Was this introduced at trial?

NUSSBAUM: I don’t think this was.

KING: No? Did you read from it at trial?

NUSSBAUM: I don’t think at trial I did. But I then turned the page after I suddenly realized, I suddenly saw him for the first time, and I wrote, “I’m sorry, Lisa. I’m sorry I didn’t see. I’m sorry. It’s too late to see now, Lisa, but maybe we can help others. Maybe we can save another child’s life.” And that’s…

KING: Do you bear some of the guilt for Lisa’s death?

NUSSBAUM: Well, I have come to realize that the only reason I wasn’t able to do more or to save her was because of what Joel Steinberg had done to my head and my body, I guess.


NUSSBAUM: I know he’s fully at blame for it. But because of that day, I made a promise to Lisa and I’ve dedicated myself to helping other battered women and children.

KING: Was the trial very difficult for you?

NUSSBAUM: Yes, it was difficult.

KING: You were on the stand six days.

NUSSBAUM: I was on the stand six days, and Joel was sitting right across from me.

KING: What was it like to face him?

NUSSBAUM: What I did I didn’t think that I could really speak looking at him in the face. So the judge’s bunk was very high sitting right next to me so I moved my chair so that it would block my view of him. So I did not look at him while I was talking.

KING: This was a televised trial.

NUSSBAUM: Yes, it was a televised trial.

KING: Did that bother you?

NUSSBAUM: No, it really didn’t make any difference. Just the idea of getting up there and knowing that a lot of people blame me and knowing that he was sitting there. All of that would (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Why do a lot of people blame you?

NUSSBAUM: Well, because people believe that a mother has to protect her child no matter what. And a lot of people just don’t understand what it’s like to be a battered woman, unless they’ve been through it.

KING: And they didn’t believe brainwashing, right?

NUSSBAUM: They didn’t really understand it.

KING: Even though you looked a mess.

NUSSBAUM: I know I did. And a lot of people did understand, particularly women who had been through abuse.

I got about 200 letters from women supporting me, telling me that I helped them. A lot of women said they left their abusive husbands because of me, and I decided at one point to answer every one of those letters individually. And I did. Not — not — not a…

KING: Not a form letter.

NUSSBAUM: Not a form letter.

KING: We’ll be right back with Hedda Nussbaum on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don’t go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nussbaum had undergone a year of plastic surgery and psychiatric treatment. Charges against her in the Steinberg case have been dropped. Steinberg is charged with second degree murder.

Nussbaum fought hard to maintain her composure, though it was difficult when shown a picture of Lisa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you recognize it to be?

NUSSBAUM: That’s Lisa Steinberg.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With respect to the first count of the indictment, how does the defendant, Joel Steinberg, how do you find as to murder in the second degree? Did you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With respect to the second count of the indictment, charging the defendant Joel Steinberg with crime of manslaughter in the first degree, did you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?



KING: We’re back with Hedda Nussbaum. Lisa would have been 21 years old this year. And Joel gets out of June of next year. How do you feel about that?

NUSSBAUM: Well, I don’t believe that he should be released.

KING: He will be, though.

NUSSBAUM: He will be, because it’s time off for good behavior. He is supposed to be a model prisoner. He has shown no remorse. Never admitted to even me, or…

KING: How do you know that? Have you talked to him?

NUSSBAUM: No. No. But I mean, every time he has come up for parole, has is denied it.

KING: I see.

NUSSBAUM: He used to make up stories and then end up believing them, and maybe he believes this. I don’t know. KING: You were the prime witness against him?

NUSSBAUM: Yes, I was.

KING: Do you fear for yourself when he gets out?

NUSSBAUM: I really feel that — people have been asking me that question for years. And I have said, it is too far in the future, I have to live my life, I can’t sit and worry about it. But I think when it gets really close, I will have to make a safety plan.

KING: The defense attempted to make you the culprit.


KING: Did Joel take the stand?

NUSSBAUM: No, he didn’t. I believe that his attorneys thought he would not make a good witness.

KING: Should he have gotten second degree murder? What did you personally favor?

NUSSBAUM: I just wanted him to be convicted. I don’t think that I had any specific.

KING: How long was the jury out?

NUSSBAUM: I think six days.

KING: Did that worry you?

NUSSBAUM: Yes, it did. I thought they would be back in a few hours. As days went by, I was really very worried because the only reason I figured that they wouldn’t convict him is because they thought I did it. But so I was very relieved when they…

KING: Did they later do interviews, the jurors?

NUSSBAUM: They’ve done interviews, yes.

KING: And what have said was the reason that they were out so long?

NUSSBAUM: Apparently some of them did believe that it was me who had done it, but the …

KING: The foreman.

NUSSBAUM: The foreman. Thank you. The foreman of the jury apparently convinced them that it had to have been Joel.

KING: Not all battered women are brainwashed and methodical prisoners of their battering, are they?

NUSSBAUM: They are not — I think a lot of them are brainwashed in a way in that even women who weren’t physically beaten, because the guy keeps telling them you’re no good, you’re this, you’re that, you can’t do anything right, and they start believing it after hearing it enough times, and that’s a form of brainwashing too.

KING: Yes, it is.


KING: So there is a lot of it.

NUSSBAUM: There is a lot of it.

KING: And when you’re in it, are you desperate? I mean, what’s it like when you’re in it?

NUSSBAUM: I think it’s different for different women, of course. When I was in it, I wasn’t really — well, I didn’t think of myself as a battered woman, I didn’t realize what was happening. It is very slow and gradual.

KING: It’s not overnight.

NUSSBAUM: No, not overnight.

KING: We’ll be back with our remaining moments with Hedda Nussbaum. She has written all of this. We hope to see the book published. And we’ll wind things up with some other discussions about her plight right after this.



NUSSBAUM: Basically I worshipped him, literally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Nussbaum felt that way despite numerous beatings she said she received at the hands of Steinberg, a pattern of abuse apparently began over 10 years ago when he hit her in the eye.

NUSSBAUM: I believe I had a black eye and then I started seeing, like, flashes of light in front of the ye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One beating was so severe, she had to have her spleen removed. Nussbaum said she couldn’t leave their Greenwich Village apartment without asking for permission from Steinberg.


KING: We’re back with Hedda Nussbaum. Put some pieces together. Was your mother — were your parents alive during this trial?

NUSSBAUM: Yes, they were.

KING: What did they think about Joel? NUSSBAUM: Well, at that time — of course, they now hated him. But they had been taken in by him, too. In fact, my mother said to me afterwards, she said, He had me fooled. I mean, she thought he was terrific.

KING: You never thought of telling your mother what he was doing to you?

NUSSBAUM: No, I didn’t — I did not want anyone to know. I didn’t want my parents to know. In fact, when he didn’t want me to see them, I, at that point — I didn’t want them to see me either. Once I started having injuries — when my nose was broken, I didn’t want them to see. I didn’t want anyone to know what was happening.

KING: Have you been able to have a loving relationship with a man?


KING: You have such a relationship now?

NUSSBAUM: No, I don’t right now. But i have.

KING: But you did.


KING: Was that difficult for you…


KING: To just go out with a man?

NUSSBAUM: No, it wasn’t. In fact — I think, I mean, people would think that I would be very hesitant…

KING: Wary, fearful.

NUSSBAUM: ….and wary and fearful/ But I grew up with a very good and very loving father. So I knew that and I know that every man is not like Joel Steinberg. So, I really wanted to and still want to have another relationship, a permanent relationship.

KING: Do you know why you think you loved him?

NUSSBAUM: Yes. Because, well — he was very bright and I loved listening to him talk. I mean, he just was fascinating.

KING: Mesmerizing?

NUSSBAUM: Yes, probably, yes. I just loved being around him and enjoyed him. He was very outgoing and I was very shy and it just…

KING: After being hit and then the apologies, right?

NUSSBAUM: He never said, I’m sorry. KING: He didn’t apologize. He never said….

NUSSBAUM: He wouldn’t say those words because that meant he was doing something wrong. He had excuses. He was trying to help me. He was helping my mental state. He built up a whole fiction around…

KING: Isn’t he a psychiatric case of major proportions?

NUSSBAUM: Probably so, yes.

KING: Did you know if they got him any psychiatric help in prison?

NUSSBAUM: I don’t know. I don’t know.

KING: Did you attend the parole hearings?

NUSSBAUM: I could not attend the parole hearings but — in fact, I wasn’t even allowed to talk to the parole board except for the last two times because I was neither a victim of the crime for which he was convicted nor was I considered a relative of the victim because I was not…

KING: Married.

NUSSBAUM: Or I was not her birth mother — there was no — not legal birth mother.

However, in the last few years they have changed the regulations and I did talk to representatives of the parole board before the parole hearing. So I had my say.

KING: What prison is he in?

NUSSBAUM: Right now he is South Fort Correctional Facility upstate.

KING: Do they move him around?

NUSSBAUM: He was at another prison before that, yes.

KING: As you look back, biggest mistake you made?

NUSSBAUM: Biggest mistake I made was going out with Joel Steinberg in the first place.

KING: But there’s no part of you said, I could have prevented Lisa’s death?

NUSSBAUM: I mean, there are times when — I think, I wish I had done such and such. But I understand now very clearly why I didn’t and I do give the blame to Joel Steinberg. I mean, of course, I wish, you know, I had, you know, had run away with her, that I had stabbed him with a knife, done anything.

KING: For awhile you blamed yourself.

NUSSBAUM: Yes, there was always a part of that, sure.

KING: So the help you got has learned you to have faith in yourself and to know that it wasn’t you that killed her/


KING: And it was him that killed her.


KING: How do you explain him? This outgoing, bright, successful lawyer. How do you rationalize, understand him?

NUSSBAUM: I don’t think I really do. I know that he, like other abusive men, wants power and control. That’s their main goal. Whatever excuses they give, that’s what they want. And he seemed to thrive from it. I don’t know. He little by little — he just needed the next kick to be higher. I don’t know.

KING: Hedda, I wish you nothing but the best of life.

NUSSBAUM: Thank you very much.

KING: Hedda Nussbaum on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Speaker discusses personal experiences in abusive marriage

Kansas State Collegian/March 15, 2000
By Kelly Glasscock

Hedda Nussbaum, a victim of domestic violence, tells her story Tuesday evening to an audience in Union Forum Hall. There are 572,000 reports of domestic violence each year.

It wasn’t supposed to happen.

Her mom was a housewife, her dad a barber and neither of them ever hit Hedda Nussbaum or used drugs or alcohol.

Nussbaum, the baby of the family, grew up shy, trusting and a little chubby, she thought.

“My childhood was so normal, it was boring,” she said.

But because of this upbringing, she said, she became ready for meeting someone abusive.

Domestic violence was the topic of the speech she gave Tuesday night in Union Forum Hall. The speech was sponsored by Union Program Council’s Issues and Ideas Committee.

Nussbaum first made the news in 1987, when police arrested her and her companion, a lawyer named Joel Steinberg, after finding their 6-year-old adopted daughter comatose. Their daughter, Lisa, had been beaten by Steinberg repeatedly that day.

However, she was not the only one abused.

Steinberg repeatedly abused Nussbaum for 10 years, leaving her with a ruptured spleen, a broken knee, broken ribs, broken teeth, a cauliflower ear and endless scars.

During the time they were together, Nussbaum wasn’t allowed to leave the house or eat without his permission, and she sometimes had to sleep in the bathtub or on the floor without a blanket.

“Now, it’s just incredible how low I had sunk without realizing it,” she said. “I became a walking zombie, and I was unable to save Lisa on November 2, 1987, when Joel hit her.”

After she left the police station that night, she was surprised to see the press outside. She said she was so brainwashed that she did not understand why all those people were making such a fuss about her hospitalized daughter.

The press, some feminists and others accused Nussbaum of causing Lisa’s death. They asked why she couldn’t just walk out.

Warning signs of an abusive partner

He’s pushing the relationship too far, too fast. Is planning your future together from the moment you meet.

He hates his mother and is nasty to her. Chances are he’ll treat you the same way.

He wants your undivided attention at all times.

You feel controlled because he must always “be in charge.”

He’s very competitive and always has to win.

He breaks promises all the time.

He can’t take criticism and always justifies his actions.

He blames someone else for anything that goes wrong — often that someone is you.

He’s jealous of you close friends and family members.

He’s jealous of any man you talk to, always asks you where you went and whom you saw.

He has extreme highs and lows — both unpredictable.

He has a nasty temper.

He has no respect for your opinion and always says you don’t know what you’re talking about.

He makes you feel like you’re not good enough.

He withdraws his love or approval as punishment.

He pushes you to do things that make you feel uneasy — like taking the day off from school or work or doing something illegal.

While 95 percent of abusers are men, 5 percent are women. Men in abusive relationships are also encouraged to seek help.

“With a battered woman, it’s not a matter of ‘just,'” she said. “Now why didn’t I see this? The reason is, abuse is subtle and gradual.”

Nussbaum said many women are scared to leave these types of relationships, and people have to understand that the level of abuse gradually grows over a period of several years. By the time this happened, she was severely brainwashed, she said.

She didn’t meet Steinberg until she was in her 30s. Prior to that, she had dated throughout college and received several marriage proposals, but none were Mr. Right, she said.

They met in 1975, and she was very attracted to his charismatic ways and vibrant eyes.

“I just fell for him right away,” she said.

But after a while, Steinberg began criticizing who she was. He would sit down with her and critique her social skills. He would act as a therapist and tell her what she should do and what she should say.

Nussbaum was flattered and pleased that she had become more outgoing and had received promotions and raises at work.

“I gave Joel all the credit for all these things that were happening,” she said. “He was my savior.”

It was three years before Steinberg hit her. He smacked her with the heel of his hand and seemed sorry, but never said the words, she said.

The next morning, she had a black eye and was worried what people at work would think. She went to the hospital, and after telling the doctor that her boyfriend had hit her, she regretted it. So she had the doctor cross out the reason for her black eye.

This was Nussbaum’s first rejection of reality.

“There is always a next time,” she said. “Women tend to think that it will never happen again, but it always does.”

There was a honeymoon period in Nussbaum’s life after she and Steinberg decided to adopt Lisa. But the abuse started up again, and Nussbaum was fired from her job because she didn’t show up, trying to cover her black eyes.

Then the mental abuse escalated.

Steinberg convinced Nussbaum that she had done horrible sexual things, and that she didn’t remember it because of her amnesia.

He also made her believe that her family was evil and the root of her behavior. He would make her smoke freebase cocaine with him, make her take ice-cold baths and hit her over the head every night with an exercise bar.

Nussbaum had to leave.

She did, five times, but returned every time. She sometimes would call him when she ran away to make sure he wasn’t worried about her.

During all these years, Nussbaum never told anyone the truth. She said she didn’t know why her family didn’t find out or why the police, when they visited her twice, didn’t take notice.

Those days are gone for Nussbaum.

Gone are the days of the trial, when she was granted immunity if she testified against Steinberg, and gone are the days of recovery, when she was placed in a psychiatric hospital.

Today, Nussbaum speaks out against violence and is the editor of Women’s News, a monthly publication distributed in northern New York.

Janet Bozarth, senior in English and Issues and Ideas Committee chairwoman, said the committee decided to bring Nussbaum to K-State because domestic violence is such a serious issue.

“The Issue and Ideas Committee is really here to make students think,” she said. “Sometimes it helps to have a controversial speaker, because we can look at an issue more deeply and from different angles.”

Nussbaum said she doesn’t have a boyfriend now, but she’s not afraid to have one.

“I’m not scared of it, but men are scared of me,” she said.

However, Nussbaum is concentrating her efforts on informing people on domestic violence for Lisa.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t see,” she said. “I’m sorry it’s too late to see. But we can help others.”

Trying to Flee

Los Angeles Times/October 8, 1995
By Andrea Dworkin

Five days before Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered on June 12, 1994, she called a battered women’s shelter in terror that her ex-husband was going to kill her. The jury was not told this, because she couldn’t be cross-examined. Guess not. Most of the rest of the evidence of beating and stalking, from 1977 to May, 1994, was also excluded.

O.J. Simpson had stalked her not once, as represented to the jury, but over at least a two-year period. Prosecutors had been permitted to introduce seven incidents of stalking, but they chose to admit only one into evidence. The jury, predominantly women, was not responding to the wife-abuse evidence, said observers. In fact, during an interview late last week, one woman juror called the domestic-abuse issue “a waste of time.” Polls during the trial confirmed women were indifferent to the beatings Nicole Simpson endured.

I was battered over a four-year period nearly 25 years ago, and am still haunted by fear and flashbacks. As a woman who escaped an assassin husband, I agreed with Deputy Dist. Atty. Christopher A. Darden that, in 1989, Nicole Simpson knew someday her husband would kill her. She’d told many people, including her sister, Denise, that he’d kill her and get away with it. In fact, you can take a battered woman’s knowledge of her abuser’s capacity to inflict harm and evade consequences to the bank.

But five days before Nicole Simpson was murdered, she knew, for sure, she would die. How? Why? Something had happened: a confrontation, a threatening phone call, an unwanted visit, an aggressive act from Simpson directed at her. She told no one, because, after 17 years of torment, she knew there was no one to tell. The police virtually everywhere ignore assault against women by their male intimates, so that any husband can be a brutal cop with tacit state protection; in Los Angeles, the police visited Nicole Simpson’s abuser at home as fans.

Remember the video showing Simpson, after the ballet recital, with the Brown family–introduced by the defense to show Simpson’s pleasant demeanor. Hours later, Nicole Simpson was dead. In the video, she is as far from Simpson, physically, as she can manage. He does not nod or gesture to her. He kisses her mother, embraces and kisses her sister and bear-hugs her father. They all reciprocate. She must have been the loneliest woman in the world.

What would Nicole Simpson have had to do to be safe? Go underground, change her appearance and identity, get cash without leaving a trail, take her children and run–all within days of her call to the shelter. She would have had to end all communication with family and friends, without explanation, for years, as well as leave her home and everything familiar.

With this abuser’s wealth and power, he would have had her hunted down; a dream team of lawyers would have taken her children from her. She would have been the villain–reckless, a slut, reviled for stealing the children of a hero. If his abuse of her is of no consequence now that she’s been murdered, how irrelevant would it have been as she, resourceless, tried to make a court and the public understand she needed to run for her life?

Nicole Simpson knew she couldn’t prevail, and she didn’t try. Instead of running, she did what the therapists said: Be firm, draw a line. So she drew the sort of line they meant. He could come to the recital but not sit with her or go to dinner with her family–a line that was no defense against death. Believing he would kill her, she did what most battered women do: kept up the appearance of normality. There was no equal justice for her, no self-defense she felt entitled to. Society had already left her to die.

On the same day the police who beat Rodney G. King were acquitted in Simi Valley, a white husband who had raped, beaten, and tortured his wife, also white, was acquitted of marital rape in South Carolina. He had kept her tied to a bed for hours, her mouth gagged with adhesive tape. He videotaped a half hour of her ordeal, during which he cut her breasts with a knife. The jury, which saw the videotape, had eight women on it. Asked why they acquitted, they said he needed help. They looked right through the victim. There were no riots afterward.

The governing reality for women of all races is that there is no escape from male violence, because it is inside and outside, intimate and predatory. While race hate has been expressed through forced segregation, woman hate is expressed through forced closeness, which makes punishment swift, easy and sure. In private, women often empathize with one another, across race and class, because their experiences with men are so much the same. But in public, including on juries, women rarely dare. For this reason, no matter how many women are battered–no matter how many football stadiums battered women could fill on any given day–each one is alone.

Surrounded by family, friends and a community of affluent acquaintances, Nicole Simpson was alone. Having turned to police, prosecutors, victim’s aid, therapists and a women’s shelter, she was still alone. Ronald L. Goldman may have been the only person in 17 years with the courage to try to intervene physically in an attack on her; and he’s dead, killed by the same hand that killed her, an expensively gloved, extra-large hand.

Though the legal system has mostly consoled and protected batterers, when a woman is being beaten, it’s the batterer who has to be stopped; as Malcolm X used to say, by any means necessary–a principle women, all women, had better learn. A woman has a right to her own bed, a home she can’t be thrown out of and for her body not to be ransacked and broken into. She has a right to safe refuge, to expect her family and friends to stop the batterer–by law or force–before she’s dead. She has a constitutional right to a gun and a legal right to kill if she believes she’s going to be killed. And a batterer’s repeated assaults should lawfully be taken as intent to kill.

Everybody’s against wife abuse, but who’s prepared to stop it?

Testimony Opens in Simpson Trial with Account of Physical Abuse

The Washington Post/February 1, 1995
By William Claiborne

Los Angeles — The prosecution Tuesday opened testimony in its murder case against O.J. Simpson with a methodical recounting of the physical and mental abuse it claims Simpson inflicted on his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson before he allegedly killed her and her friend Ronald L. Goldman last June.

The first three witnesses whom prosecutor Christopher Darden put on the stand after seven months of pretrial hearings and jury selection provided the jury with details of a much-publicized incident early on the morning of Jan. 1, 1989, in which Simpson allegedly beat his then-wife. Simpson later pleaded no contest to a charge of spousal battery.

Police detective John Edwards testified that when he arrived at Simpson’s estate that morning, a trembling Nicole Brown Simpson emerged from the bushes, wearing only a bra and sweat pants, with a cut lip and bruised forehead. “He’s going to kill me!” he said she cried.

Lead defense attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. suggested to Edwards that she was drunk that night and that the couple may have merely been engaged in a “mutual wrestling match,” as O.J. Simpson later claimed. But the detective did not budge from his account.

Throughout the first long day of testimony, prosecutors made no mention of the killings, underscoring the strategy they had signaled in their opening statement last week.

Most of Tuesday’s testimony about the 1989 New Year’s incident had been disclosed in pretrial proceedings. A notable exception was Edwards’ assertion that Nicole Simpson told him her beating was preceded by an argument over her husband’s having had sex that night with one of two other women living in their house.

The prosecution’s first witness was Sharyn Gilbert, the 911 emergency operator who took Nicole Simpson’s telephone call early that morning and almost immediately entered in her computer: “Female being beaten at location could be heard over the phone.”

Gilbert said she heard a woman screaming and “someone being hit.” She immediately broadcast an urgent radio call for any police car in West Los Angeles to respond to the Simpsons’ estate in fashionable Brentwood.

Prison camp mentality keeps domestic violence going

Cabot Star-Herald/May 14, 2005
By Ed Galucki

Beatings, injuries, rape, fear – even death. Bad enough on the streets, but it appears that a growing number of persons in Lonoke County have these as part of their home life. Why does someone stay in the face of such danger? The answer has its roots in prisons, concentration camps and brainwashing.

The relationships in domestic violence are complex, and are the result of careful manipulation by the abuser, Charlotte Carroll, founder of a battered women’s shelter at Stuttgart, said. Carroll gave her own account of domestic violence at a public meeting sponsored by Lonoke County Safe Haven.

In a long-term relationship, simply leaving is possibly the most difficult option, Carroll said. “It’s just not that easy,” she exclaimed.

Lona McCastlain, Lonoke County prosecuting attorney, said it is likely every person in the county knows someone in a violent relationship. “You see it, but you really do not put a face to it… Death is not uncommon,” she remarked.

Her office deals with large numbers of domestic violence cases each year. There were 217 domestic violence cases last year, that includes everything from misdemeanor violation of protective orders, to battery, to rape, to murder, McCastlain said. “The need is here,” she declared.

It is not a simple family argument, Carroll said of her 23 years in a violent relationship.

People need to realize that there are reasons victims choose to remain in a violent relationship, Carroll said. Most victims are in conditions very similar to those used in concentration camps — reduce victims to submission, she said.

“It is all about control,” Carroll said. Superficially, a person appears to be very confident, but in reality is very insecure and needs to control, she said.

“I have been battered, beaten, ridiculed; I have had a 30.06 put in my mouth, a knife put to my throat; I have been kicked with sharp-pointed cowboy boots; I have been whipped with a belt,” Carroll recounted.

“I never understood why [the beatings occurred], but it was my fault,” Carroll said. Other women who shared experiences repeated that, she said.

“They thought it was their fault. ‘If I hadn’t have done this, then you wouldn’t done that – I made him do it,’” Carroll said of a victim’s reasoning.

Carroll said she becomes upset with officers who question a victim about what she had done to provoke an attack. “She didn’t have to do anything to make him do that; it is his problem,” she exclaimed. An attacker’s reactions are his choices, Carroll declared.

More upsetting are comments that a woman should just leave, or, worse, “She must like it or else she wouldn’t stay,” Carroll exclaimed. “Let me tell you, leaving is not easy,” she declared.

First, a woman is, “Scared to death,” Carroll said. “He has already proven that he can hurt you, and he can hurt you bad.”

Second, if there are children involved, a mother is not going to leave, Carroll said. “You are not going to go out that door and leave those kids behind,” she declared.

The longer one stays in a relationship, the harder it is to get out, “Because you have so much invested in it…You have to get to the point that nothing else matters but your and your children’s sanity and safety,” Carroll exclaimed.

Examples abound of how far the victim’s mindset can allow the conditions to continue. One woman, new to the Stuttgart shelter, cried because she was told she could fix whatever she wanted for a meal. “She had never been able to do that,” Carroll said.

Until then everything was determined by husband; what she was to do, what she was to wear, where she was to go, what time supper was to be ready, and what was supposed to be fixed, Carroll recalled. “If it was not done the exact way he told her to do it, she got beaten,” she said.

Carroll said she was 19 when she first met the man she later married. Actually, she did not like him at first; “I thought he acted like he had a ‘chip on his shoulder,’” she recalled. But over time he won her over and she fell in love with him, she said.

Looking back now, she can see the warning signs that she could not see at the time; it is said “Love is blind.’ “It also makes you blind, stupid and deaf,” she remarked.

“He would get upset with me when I didn’t do the things he wanted me to do,” Carroll said. “But he wouldn’t tell me why he was mad at me.”

Questions about what was wrong would not get a clear answer, Carroll recalled. “He’d say, ‘You know what’s wrong,’” she said.

Nurturing women, those who wish to please, are most targeted; not women who would say, “Well, forget you,” Carroll said.

“I was going to be the perfect wife, perfect mother,” she said. “We were close. Went everywhere together, did everything together. I liked it that way, I thought, ‘He really loves me because he can’t stand to be away from me,’” she recalled.

But he restricted her visits to family, she said. Later, a move from Georgia to a home in the Arkansas countryside only ended up isolating her from friends and family, she said.

When he was gone for lengths of time, questions about where he had been would be rebuffed; she was not to ask where he had been, Carroll recalled.

Carroll recalled an incident when she had gone fishing with friends and was not home when he came home, when it seemed the treatment became worse. So began a cycle of beating and remorse, when she would get almost anything she wanted after being beaten.

Carroll said conditions were chillingly parallel to those described in Biderman’s Chart of Coercion, which outlines tactics also used in concentration camps and brainwashing.

“One night he put me outside on the porch. It was freezing cold and I was in my nightgown. I stayed outside, in the carport, in the corner. I was too ashamed, I didn’t want anybody to see me, and so I wouldn’t even go to a neighbor. The next morning, he opened the door, and said, ‘You think you can behave now?’” Carroll recalled.

“But it gets to the point that he will kill me if I stay, and kill me if I go,” Carroll said. The scariest time was when she finally drew up the courage to leave, she said.

However, at the time, there was little help for a victim trying to break free. When he attacked her, for the police it was simply a matter of an argument between husband and wife.

She was asked if she was in the process of getting a divorce. When she said, “No,” the reply was that without a protective order, there was nothing the officers could do.

She filed for divorce and got a protective order, but her husband violated it and attacked her. “He held a knife to my throat, even cut me,” she said.

“I called the police, and they asked if there were any witnesses,” Carroll recalled. “When I said, ‘No,’ they said, ‘Well ma’am, you could have done that,” she said.

But she stood by her decision to leave, nothing he used to get her back before worked anymore. The final battle was custody of her daughter, and when that was over, there were new problems, and she had to face them alone.

Crucial to the “escape” is a place to go, but a woman often has nothing, no car, no money, no job. Carroll said. “Make a plan of escape, have your bags packed, have money hidden, get spare car keys made, get all your important papers together – birth certificates, driver’s license, shot records, social security cards, anything,” Carroll advised.

“Keep it all in a safe place, at a friend’s house. Get together anything of value to sell, you will need the money because the first thing that will happen is that he will tie up all the bank accounts,” Carroll said.

It takes an average of seven attempts for a woman to leave a violent relationship, Carroll said.

McCastlain said eventually women cannot stand to see the children tortured any longer, or the woman realizes they will lose their life if they stay. “They are going to have to have a place to go, that is why a shelter is so important,” McCastlain exclaimed.

Lonoke County Safe Haven is a local group trying to establish a refuge, a Safe Haven, for women fleeing from a violent, potentially fatal, relationship.

Safe Haven is at its earliest stages and help is needed; both volunteer and with donations, J.M. Park, one of the members of the Safe Haven steering committee, said during the meeting. But domestic violence in the county has to be dealt with, and people need to know of the alarming incidence of it, he said.

The goal is a shelter, but the first step is going to be a 24-hour help line, staffed with volunteers, he said at the meeting.

Why we love the ones who hurt us

MSNBC News/May 11, 2005
By Clint Van Zandt

In August 1973, a heavily-armed robber by the name of Olafson swaggered into a busy bank in downtown Stockholm, Sweden. Firing shots as he entered, he took three women and a man hostage, strapped dynamite to their bodies, and herded them into a subterranean bank vault where he refused police demands for his surrender and the release of his hostages for the next six days.

After the eventual arrest of the robbers (a friend of the bank robber who was in prison at the time had been brought mid-standoff to the bank at the demand of Olafson) and the rescue of the four victims, the continued friendly and caring attitude on the part of some of the hostages toward their captors was viewed with suspicion. This was especially so when the police considered that the captives were abused, threatened, and had allegedly feared for their lives during the week they had been held against their will. Authorities were even more amazed when they found out that one or more of the female hostages may have had consensual physical intimacy with their captors.

The relationship between the robbers and their former captives thereafter saw former hostage Kristin break off her engagement to another man in order to become engaged to Olafson; while another former hostage started a defense fund to pay for the robbers’ legal defense.

The relationship that develops between hostages and their captors is now known as “the Stockholm Syndrome,” a type of emotional bonding that is in reality a survival strategy for victims of emotional and physical abuse— including not only hostages, but also battered spouses and partners, abused children, and even POWs.

Hostage in abusive relationships

Although not victims of a robbery or hostage situation, 700,000 Americans per year experience non-fatal physical domestic violence. There are about 8 million individuals involved in emotionally and physically abusive relationships at any one time. About 20 percent of all women report having been assaulted by an intimate partner in their lifetime. In same-gender partner violence, over half a million gay men are victims of domestic violence. Ten percent of high school students and 40 percent of college students report being assaulted by a date, and 20 to 25 percent of college women report rape during college. The vast majority of rapes and intimate partner violence, whether the victim is male or female, still go unreported.

The bond that exists between the captor/abuser and his or her victim is strong and can compel the victim to stay with (or otherwise support the actions of the abuser) when the need to run is blatantly obvious to everyone but the victim. The investment that one has made in the relationship directly impacts the ability to recognize the negative or threatening aspects of the association. This also affects the ability to either correct or flee.

People share various intimacies with their significant others (who may also be an abuser). Abusers can threaten to tell other people about the “special” aspects of their relationship, if he or she does not do exactly as the abuser says. Victims may have become financially dependent on the abuser and find themselves unable to pay their own way, or they may believe that they can’t make it in life without the other’s physical and financial support. Many have allowed an abusive relationship to stay hidden from family and friends, and people have stayed in these kinds of relationships so as not to embarrass themselves or their abuser. (One woman whose husband made her “pretend” to beg for physical intimacy with him told me that she’d be too embarrassed for “her husband’s sake” to ever ask for help, even though this aspect of their relationship emotionally devastated her.)

Some abused individuals have had children with their abuser; therefore they keep quiet so as not to “damage” their family reputation or otherwise impact on the “stability” of their family, forgetting that to allowing one’s self to be abused in front of one’s children only paves the way for further victimization. Allowing abuse to go on in a family also sets a negative example that children may follow, perpetuating the abuse from generation to generation.

Why don’t victims just leave?

Abused individuals are questioned by family and friends as to why they take the mistreatment and why they just don’t leave. This is one of the many situations in life where you must have walked a mile in the shoes of another to understand their situation. A long-term relationship is just that for many of us— long-term. We have invested much of ourselves into the relationship and it just isn’t like selling a car that continues to break down. A large part of one’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem is likely to have been invested in the relationship and, like the broken down car, we just want it fixed and running— as we neither want nor can afford a new car or a new relationship.

Hostage negotiators know that they cannot argue or otherwise talk a delusional individual out of their delusion. They will not listen to the negotiator, or they will somehow incorporate the negotiator into their delusion. They can write off the negotiator off as someone who “just doesn’t understand.”

If you are in a long-term abusive relationship, your choice may be to ignore the warnings of others,believing that those opinions could destroy your relationship. The logic goes that the person offering advice simply doesn’t understand your situation and doesn’t know that their well-meaning advice, if taken, could destroy your relationship with your spouse or partner. But the long-term effects of abuse include depression; suicide or attempted suicide; anxiety; guilt; withdrawal from school, work and social settings; feelings of shame; and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (both on the one abused and on any children in the family).

What to do if you’re in an abusive relationship

Understand that an abusive individual will continue to abuse you until you stop him or her from doing so, even if it requires you to emotionally and physically separate yourself from your abuser. But don’t allow your abuser to separate you from your contact with family and friends. They are your support system and you need them to help you maintain a healthy frame of reference concerning your life, your relationship, and the world.

If the victim of the abusive relationship is your child or a friend, you need to remain supportive and not put even more stress, pressure, and guilt on the abused individual. An abuser can change, but he/she must want to change, and the longer he is allowed to abuse, the less likely he is to alter his behavior. If emotional or physical abuse is present in a dating relationship, know that the abuser is a loser; the abuse will become worse as time goes by, so turn on your heels and move quickly away from the influence of this person. Period.

If you, your friend, or your child is involved in a long-term abusive relationship, including a marriage with children, again know that the abuse is not likely to end without outside assistance. The more you pretend it isn’t happening, or the more you accept abusive behavior in your home and within your family, the more will come your way.

I recall a woman who told us that she helped her husband commit a kidnapping and murder because “If he was occupied doing something else, he was too busy to abuse me.”

The abuser may threaten you or even himself (“I’ll kill myself if you leave,” or “I’ll lose my job if you tell”) in an attempt to control you and keep you as his helpless victim. He may abuse and then— even beg— for your forgiveness, only to reoffend in the near future. If the abuse is due to a mental disorder, a personality disorder, or substance abuse, there is no way that it will get any better. It will definitely get worse. Some victims will become so conditioned to their abuser’s actions that they cannot function without the co-dependent relationship with their abuser.

Like cancer, abuse will not heal itself and if left alone, it can destroy your lifestyle and happiness. It may even take your life. Be quick to demand that the abuse ends— and if it doesn’t, know that your decision is either to continue to be emotionally and perhaps physically pounded on, or to seek outside help to save the relationship, and possibly save your very life or that of your children.

Not everyone continues to take this abuse and many have successfully altered the behavior within the relationship— or left the relationship to ultimately survive and thrive. We all need to endure the many challenges and traumas of life in ways that preserve our sense of self worth and self-esteem. We don’t have to be victims and we don’t have to accept abuse at the hands of others, especially a supposed intimate whom we initially trusted and loved and who now hurts us with clock-like regularity. We each have an inner voice that tells us when something is really wrong. In the case of abusive relationships, listen to the voice and then do something about it. Your very life is on the line.

Oh, and by the way. Remember the Stockholm bank robbery where the hostages gave into their captors? In another similar situation, the police sniper had to shoot an armed hostage-taker who was threatening the lives of two female hostages. When shot, the robber fell to the floor, whereupon his two female hostages picked him up off the floor and held him in front of a window so that he could be shot a second time. (No second shot was needed.)

Stay safe!

The Stockholm Syndrome

Signs and symptoms

As an FBI hostage negotiator and behavioral profiler, I taught others that this so-called syndrome or set of symptoms includes certain behaviors that may be exhibited during a significant personal challenge or stressful situation, including:

Positive feelings towards kidnapper/abuser

Victims have positive feelings towards the hostage taker, kidnapper, abuser or controller in his or her life.

Negative towards help

Victims have negative feelings towards the authorities, family members, or friends who try to rescue or otherwise win the victim’s release from their threatening and/or challenging situation. By this, any rescue attempt– be it from a volatile hostage situation or a volatile marriage– could be seen as a threat as it’s likely that the “victim” could be injured (physically or emotionally) during any attempt at “rescue.”

Supporting their reasoning

Victims support the hostage taker’s or the abuser’s behavior and reasoning, including assisting, helping, or refusing to acknowledge the negative impact of the individual’s behavior and actions.

Inability to escape

The victim is unable to behave or assist in a manner to help his/herself escape from a challenging or threatening situation.

Verbal abuse often as damaging as physical

Berating typically used for controlling others

The Journal Gazette/April 14, 2005
By Stefanie Scarlett

We’ve all heard them: the couple who scream obscenities at each other in public, the overzealous parent who berates a child for failing to catch the ball during the big game.

Examples of verbal, or emotional, abuse are everywhere: Just turn on “Jerry Springer” almost any day of the week.

Stephen Jackson of the Indiana Pacers was suspended for a game in February after verbally abusing an official, just the latest athlete to be punished for such an offense.

The Center for Nonviolence in Fort Wayne defines violence as “any words or actions that hurt and control another, cause fear or make someone feel belittled or weak and powerless,” coordinator John Beams says.

It can take the form of blaming, criticizing, humiliating, name-calling, threatening or trivializing someone else as a way to gain control or exert power.

One of the more stunning media examples of verbal abuse came from Jonathan Baker and Victoria Fuller, a married couple who appeared on “The Amazing Race 6” this year and shocked other racers and fans with their ongoing and intense bickering.

In the eyes of many viewers, Baker berated and blamed his wife for every problem they encountered, which left Fuller in tears more than once.

After the race, they were chastised on prime-time television by no less than Dr. Phil. The couple has said “The Amazing Race” didn’t portray their relationship accurately, that things weren’t nearly as bad as they seemed and that they were affected by the stress of competition.

They are still together – and are filming a reality show based on their post-“Race” experiences.

Some might say it’s yet another example of undeserving people being rewarded for their bad behavior.

Of course, many of us will watch.

“In entertainment, the producers are often looking for shock value. There are tremendous amounts of violence and abuse on TV, so people can see the most titillating, shocking things possible & which makes it appear to young people that it’s an OK thing to do,” says Patricia Evans, the author of several books on verbal abuse and runs the Evans Interpersonal Communications Institute in Alamo, Calif.

She didn’t see the Baker-Fuller arguments. But there are plenty of other examples, such as “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell, whom Evans takes to task for his biting criticism and disparaging comments to young wannabe singers.

The problem is the other view, the calm voice of reason to explain that belittling others is wrong, usually isn’t heard in the same context to counteract the effect, she says.

That absence is notable in many TV programs and video games, both of which “have had a horrendous effect on our collective inability to learn the hard task of living in a civilized world,” Beams agrees.

It’s especially troubling, he says, because both forms of media are greedily consumed by children and teens, often without their parents present to discuss what they’re seeing.

But media do not necessarily create a new generation of potential abusers; some might argue what we see is just a reflection of what’s going on in the culture anyway.

So how did we get this way?

Part of it might be due to cultural socialization, Beams says.

“Aggression and control are still very much a part of male identity today & the traditional female socialization tends to still value being more nurturing and more yielding.”

So when the two meet up in romantic relationships, there can be communication problems.

“The same words, spoken by a man or a woman, can have a different impact,” he says.

In many cases, verbal abuse is something that both partners engage in.

In some cases, it leads to physical abuse.

Although anyone can be an abuser, statistics show the majority of them are male, although male victims likely are underreported.

In situations of verbal abuse, the abusers focus on their intent, and not the effect, of their actions, Beams says.

They might explain their behavior by saying, ” “I was just trying to express myself; I was just blowing off steam; I was trying to motivate people; or I was raised in a family where people talked that way all the time,’ ” he says. “If you focus on intent, you’d think there never was abuse.”

Evans agrees, saying that abusers will often accuse their victims of starting arguments or being too sensitive, when they really are just trying to defend themselves.

“Verbal abuse is like brainwashing – it makes the target or victim confused, feeling crazy and struggling to remain herself, while her awareness is constantly assaulted,” she says.

Most cases stem either from habit, or “tit-for-tat escalation” where one person is determined to get payback and it keeps going, Beams says.

“For some people, there’s sort of a gain to be had from baiting somebody else & all the better if they can get that person to try to respond to them, argue with them. There are some really angry people in this world,” says Jeannie DiClementi, assistant professor of psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Verbal abuse is a learned behavior; some people aren’t even aware that what they’re doing is hurtful to others, she says.

“Sometimes people resort to swearing and name-calling because they lack the communication skills to express themselves properly. But it’s not a form of communication … calling somebody a ‘bitch’ gives you no information whatsoever,” DiClementi says. “It’s not something to be taken lightly.”

Long-term cases of verbal abuse are damaging to both children and adults.

“Abusing loved ones does not teach anybody a lesson, at least not a good lesson,” Beams says.

“It damages self-esteem, self-image. People begin to internalize it; they feel powerless, they feel helpless. If you hear it enough, you begin to believe it,” DiClementi says.

Experts advise that if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, you should seek help.

Beams and DiClementi suggest the following:

“Examine your own behavior. Pay attention to how people react to you, in good times and bad. Are they hurt or afraid or angry because of something you said, or how you said it?

“Fight the need to always be right, or always win the argument.

“Set limits to name-calling, criticizing and blaming, especially in front of your children.

“Don’t repeat the same arguments over and over.

“Learn better communication skills through counseling or group therapy.

“And perhaps most importantly, if you’re feeling emotional, think before you speak.

Brainwashing agitates victims into submission

Palm Beach Post/March 14, 2003
By Michael Browning

Was Elizabeth Smart — the Utah teenager snatched from her bedroom last June, then remarkably rescued Wednesday — brainwashed into staying with her captors?

Her father, Ed Smart, said Thursday he knows “that she’s been through brainwashing,” though he has not asked his daughter for details about her nine-month ordeal.

The American view of mind control is more sensational than clinical. The public tends to remember how attorney F. Lee Bailey defended heiress Patty Hearst in the 1970s, claiming she was brainwashed into joining her kidnappers in their crime spree.

But where, exactly, did he get the idea?

“Brainwashing” is one of the few Chinese phrases to have made its way directly into English in translation, thanks to the Korean War. Chinese Taoist temples often displayed the two characters “Xi Xin,” pronounced “shee shin,” meaning “Wash Heart.” It was an adjuration to all those entering to purge their hearts of base thoughts [i.e. Chinese Thought Reform] and desires, and rise to a higher spiritual plane.

The Chinese communists adopted this phrase during political “struggle sessions,” in which an erring comrade would be urged by the group to straighten out, fly right, get back in tune with the common goal. The very word for “comrade” in Chinese is tongzhi, meaning “share goal.”

Only one slight change was made: Instead of washing the heart, one was urged to wash the brain, “Xi Nao,” purify one’s thoughts.

During the Korean War, captured American soldiers were subjected to prolonged interrogations and harangues by their captors, who often worked in relays and used the “good-cop, bad-cop” approach, alternating a brutal interrogator with a gentle one.

It was all part of “Xi Nao,” washing the brain. The Chinese and Koreans were making valiant attempts to convert the captives to the communist way of thought.

Soldiers sometimes caved in, sometimes did not. For some reason, sociologists later noted, the Turks proved the toughest to persuade, while Americans were a mixed lot. Some were converted, some actually defected and at least one was living in China as late as the 1980s.

British journalist Edward Hunter translated the term brainwashing in his 1953 book, Brain-Washing in Red China, which described communist techniques for controlling the minds of nonbelievers.

The word gained wide currency, given a powerful assist by the 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate, which revolved around the plot device of brainwashing. In the film, with the flip of a queen of diamonds card, a pre-programmed and seemingly normal person could be turned into an assassin. The device was revived in a later film, Telefon, starring Charles Bronson.

In 1968, when Michigan Gov. George Romney claimed that the Johnson administration had “brainwashed” him about Vietnam, Sen. Eugene McCarthy quipped that, in Romney’s case, “a light rinse would have done.” Romney, who was creating excitement in the Republican presidential nomination contest, quickly faded, clearing the way for Richard Nixon.

But it was the 1970s kidnapping of Hearst, 19-year-old heiress to the publishing fortune, that brought brainwashing into the courtroom. Hearst was held in a closet and tortured for several months by the Symbionese Liberation Army, which she then joined and aided in several armed robberies — changing her name to Tania.

Her attorney, Bailey, said she had been brainwashed. The defense didn’t succeed. Hearst was sentenced to seven years in prison.

The brainwashing defense has recently been tried again to explain the behavior of men arrested for their association with terrorists and terrorism. A friend of John “American Tailbone” Walker’s told People magazine that Al-Qaeda had brainwashed Walker. Slate magazine reported that Abd-Samad Moussaoui, the brother of Zacarias “20th Hijacker” Moussaoui, believes that, in Britain, his brother “became prey to an extremist brainwashing cult.”

The real soldiers who survived the Korean War and returned to the United States carried with them the stigma and guilt of having been captured and having survived the war and their interrogations. “Survivor’s guilt” is a common trait among prisoners of war.

So brainwashing became a pejorative, and the phrase “you’ve been brainwashed,” a term of reproach, as if the prisoner had become addlebrained, or a simpleton, during his captivity.

Sometimes the brainwashing sessions backfired ludicrously. There is the story of one British soldier who, during an interrogation session, was asked how much land his family owned.

The Englishman replied that he had only a window box in a flat back in London where he grew geraniums.

The translator didn’t understand what a window box was and asked the dimensions of the plot of ground. When the soldier showed him, with his hands, the interrogator brightened immediately.

“Ah, then you should be on our side! Obviously you are a small land owner and have been exploited terribly!” he said.

“Get Anyone to Do Anything and Never Feel Powerless Again”

Psychological secrets to predict, control and influence every situation Chapter 9, Pages 42-43/May 2000

By David J. Lieberman, Ph. D.

From the bedroom to the boardroom learn how to see clearly and easily evaluate information without being swayed by those with selfish interests and unkind intentions. The manipulator’s bag of tricks is stocked with seven deadly tactics that can leave you jumping through hoops. The good news is that by knowing what they are, you can watch out for them, and…never be manipulated again.

These powerful manipulators are: guilt, intimidation, appeal to ego, fear, curiosity, our desire to be liked, and love. Anyone who uses any of these tactics is attempting to move you from logic to emotion-to a playing field that’s not so level. She or he knows that she or he can’t win on the facts so they will try to manipulate your emotions with any one or a combination of the tactics below.

  • Our Desire to be Liked: “I thought you were a real player. And so did everyone else Come on, nobody likes it when a person backs out…this can be your chance to prove what you’re made of.
  • Fear: “You know, you might [not get “it” if you go take a pee/act un-coach able] just lose the whole thing. I sure hope you know what you’re doing. I’m telling you that you won’t get a better deal anywhere else. This is your last shot at making things work out. Why do you want to risk losing out on being happy?
  • Intimidation: “What’s the matter can’t you make a decision? Don’t you have enough confidence in yourself to do this?
  • Guilt: “How can you even say that? I’m hurt that you wouldn’t trust me. I just don’t know who you are anymore.”
  • Appeal to Ego: “I can see that you’re a smart person. I wouldn’t try to put anything past you. How could I? You’d be on me in a second.”
  • Curiosity: “Look, you only live once. Try it? You can always go back to how things were. It might be fun, exciting-a real adventure. “You never know unless you try and you regret never seeing what happens.”
  • Love:“If you loved me you wouldn’t question me. Of course I have only your best interests at heart. I wouldn’t lie to you. You know that deep down inside, don’t you? We can have a wonderful relationship if you’d only let yourself go and experience the wonders that the future will deliver to us.”

Strategy Review:

Look and listen objectively–not only to the words but also to the message.The abusive maneuvers interfere with your ability to digest facts. When these emotions creep into your thinking, temporarily suspend your feelings and look at the messenger as well as the message. If you hear anything that sounds like these manipulators, stop and reevaluate the situation. Don’t ever act quickly and emotionally. Wait and objectively gather the facts so you don’t become a hand puppet.