In June 1994, O. J. Simpson was accused of murdering his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. Since that time, attention has been riveted on the problem of spouse abuse. Indeed, matters in the wife abuse area have not been the same since these brutal murders. For those who work in shelters and treat abused women daily, as reflected in many media accounts, there was much open dismay about the acquittal of Simpson in October 1995. Nonetheless, it remains the hope that the media attention focused on this case for over a year will bring needed changes in service delivery and financial support to this long-neglected problem.
Spouse abuse received little attention from mental health professionals until the late 1980s and early 1990s, when federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association began to encourage research on its etiology, prevention, and treatment. This neglect provides a context for understanding the slow and fragmented development of this field, although it is only one reason for the slow growth. Social reasons such as stigmatization and/or minimization of the problem by abusive men and their wives are also to blame.
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