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American domestic violence: will a helpline reduce it?

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 19 April 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1207
  1. Fred Charatan, is a freelance journalist in Florida

    Thirty years ago the African-American activist H Rap Brown said: “Violence is necessary; it is as American as cherry pie.” Not apple pie, which, together with motherhood and the flag epitomises American values, but cherry, the colour of blood. In his state of the union address at the beginning of the year President Clinton, no stranger to domestic violence in his own adolescence, said: “I call on American men and women in families to give greater respect to one another. We must end the deadly scourge of domestic violence in our country.” A few weeks later Mr Clinton announced a nationwide 24 hour toll free domestic violence hotline.

    Donna Shalala, United States secretary of health and human services, said: “With this national hotline, every woman will have access to the help she needs, wherever and whenever she needs it.”

    For months, images of Nicole Brown Simpson's bruised and battered face appeared on television, during the trial of black football star O J Simpson, indicted for the murder of Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman. Simpson's freedom over a period of years to abuse his wife with no meaningful intervention …

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