Insignificant when she was alive--because they didn't save her--the victim's words remain insignificant in death: excluded from the trial of her accused murderer, called "hearsay" and not admissible in a legal system that has consistently protected or ignored the beating and sexual abuse of women by men, especially by husbands.Nicole called a battered women's shelter five days before her death. Evidence of the attacks on her by Simpson that were witnessed in public will be allowed at trial. The worst beatings, the sustained acts of sadism, have no witnesses. The law, including the FBI, and social scientists used to maintain that wife-beating did not exist in the United States.

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Then, with the support of a strong political movement, victims of the abuse speak out about what has been done to them and by whom. One day, enough victims have spoken--sometimes in words, sometimes by running away or seeking refuge or striking back or killing in self-defense--that they can be counted and studied: Social scientists find a pattern of injury and experts describe it. They are listened to respectfully, are often paid to give evidence in legal cases.

Meanwhile, the voice of the victim still has no social standing or legal significance.

She still has no credibility such that each of us--and the law--is compelled to help her.

And if, after she is dead, we tell the police that we heard the accused murderer beat her in 1977, and saw her with black eyes--as Nicole's neighbors did--we will not be allowed to testify, which may be the only justice in this, since it has taken us 17 years to bother to speak at all. Every battered woman learns early on not to expect help.

A battered woman confides in someone, when she does, to leave a trail.

She overcomes her fear of triggering violence in the batterer if he finds out that she has spoken in order to leave a verbal marker somewhere, with someone.

She thinks the other person's word will be believed later. Thought he'd throw me out." We need to hear how he "threw a fit, chased me, grabbed me, threw me into walls.

Nicole's ordinary words of fear, despair and terror told to friends, and concrete descriptions of physical attacks recorded in her diary, are being kept from the jury.

The lawyer who successfully defended William Kennedy Smith on a rape charge also used that term systematically.

Ito refused to alter reality by altering language but some media complied--for example, "Rivera Live," where domestic discord became a new term of art.

Ito to order the prosecution to say domestic discord rather than domestic violence or even spousal abuse--already euphemisms for wife-beating--and to disallow the words battered wife and stalker.