Hedda Nussbaum and Joel Stienberg

Essay by mbethc7University, Bachelor'sA+, March 2005

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Hedda Nussbaum and Joel Steinberg

When Hedda Nussbaum was a young, single woman living with a roommate in a New York City brownstone, she heard a ruckus outside her building one night and peered out the window to see a neighbor in her bathrobe, refusing to go back inside until the police arrived.

The woman's husband, known to be a heavy drinker, turned out to be abusive. "The next day," Nussbaum recalls, "I was absolutely shocked to find that she came back. I remember saying, 'If my husband ever hit me, even once, I'd be out that door and never come back.' And that's what everybody thinks, until it happens to you." (Oprah.com)

It is eerie that Nussbaum would herself, become the iconic face of domestic violence, a woman who many still find hard to understand years after her case. While watching the media and reading articles about Hedda's situation, all of the red flags of domestic abuse are readily apparent from my perspective, an outsider looking in.

Having discussed domestic abuse with victims in the past, I have an easier time understanding the concepts of "brainwashing" and "emotional breakdown" than those who have never confronted these issues.

Three years into Hedda Nussbaum's relationship with Joel Steinberg, he began to physically abuse Hedda however, infrequently. In the cycle of domestic abuse, the perpetrator will usually commit the act, ultimately feel badly about it, then try to make excuses for his or her actions, and plead for forgiveness. Some time may go by before the cycle starts all over again. The problem here is that the victim does not believe that it will happen again. Hedda said that in the first three years of their relationship, Joel never hit her. When it did happen...