Denise Brown, the sister of Nicole Brown Simpson, has committed herself to raising awareness against domestic violence. Denise’s life took a dramatic turn on June 12, 1994, when her sister was murdered. Now she has committed her life to raising awareness about a crime that kills three women every day in the United States.
When she recently came to Amelia Island, she was the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for Micah’s Place, Inc., Nassau County, Florida’s only Certified Domestic Violence Center. I had the opportunity to sit down with Brown for a very candid conversation and video interview to discuss the increasing rates of domestic abuse, a message she wants shared with the youth of our country, her rarely spoken about relationship with her sister and what Denise Brown has planned for her future.
One of Brown’s biggest concerns is the misconception that domestic violence is not a serious issue. She told me that the numbers of calls coming into the crisis centers are increasing. The additional financial stress families are facing because of our nation’s poor economic health appears to be adding to the incidents of violence in the home.
Anger management is not the answer to domestic violence and abuse. More shelters are needed, Batterer’s Treatment Programs need to be expanded and education needs to begin at an earlier age. The Violence Against Women’s Act has helped with additional funds for shelters and programs, but awareness and public service announcements are not covered in the funding. Domestic violence is a cycle that can be broken. This is no longer a taboo topic and there are no acceptable excuses. No one should have to endure physical, mental and emotional terrorism in their own home.
Having traveled the country speaking at prisons, treatment centers and shelters, there are a few words about this violent crime the youth of our nation needs to hear. “You don’t have to date the captain of the football team if he is not a nice person.” Domestic violence is a choice someone makes; and our children need to be taught this at an earlier age. The book, Hands are not for Hitting, is a great resource to teach our kids that physical violence is unacceptable. This colorful, bright and inviting book helps spread this important message to even the youngest of children that hitting is not okay.
Though Brown has not publicly spoken about Nicole Brown Simpson much in the past, she has recently realized that to many, her sister has not been portrayed as “a real person” through the media. When we sat down with Denise, she opened up about her sister and what she knew about the violent relationship Nicole was involved in prior to her murder. In this touching interview, the link can be found below, Denise speaks of her sister as a hopeless romantic, and in this moment of remembrance she unconsciously uses the present tense.
Domestic violence is a learned behavior that touches real people. Not just poor people, not just celebrities and not just women! Brown is determined to banish the darkness, end the silence, spread awareness and stop the cycle of violence. She founded The Nicole Brown Foundation (NicoleBrown.org), a non-profit national advocacy organization against domestic violence focused on bringing awareness, education and inspiration to others. Denise learned through diaries and notes that her sister had suffered over 17 years of verbal, mental, physical and emotional abuse.
Through the Nicole Brown Foundation, public service announcements displayed on Los Angeles city buses are generating calls from men. Men who are being abused are calling their hot-line and so are the men who want to know how to help someone out of these dangerous and life threatening situations.
Breaking the circle of domestic violence is not easy, nor is making the choice to get out of a violent relationship. Statistics show that the abused return to their abusers again and again before they finally get out and receive the support they need to start over with their lives.
So, what is next for Denise Brown? She is laying the foundation for The Elite Speaker’s Bureau to discuss not just domestic violence, but also other problematic issues of social responsibility utilizing real people, not just celebrities, who are experts in their field.