Sanctuary for the Abused
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Then & Now: Denise Brown
(CNN) -- Ten years ago, Denise Brown was a fixture on television news, discussing the killing of her sister Nicole Brown Simpson, whose ex-husband, former football star O.J. Simpson, was standing trial for Nicole's murder.
At O.J. Simpson's murder trial, Denise Brown testified about alleged domestic abuse in her sister's marriage to the former Buffalo Bills running back and Hollywood personality.
Simpson was acquitted in the 1994 killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, but both victims' families sued him in civil court, and in 1997, they were awarded damages of $33.5 million when Simpson was found liable for the deaths under a lesser standard of proof.
Today, as head of the Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation, which Denise Brown founded in 1994, she invokes the memory of her sister in a campaign against domestic violence.
"Four women die everyday from the hands of someone they love, and someone they're supposed to be able to count on and trust," Brown told CNN. "And that's awful."
Brown said during Simpson's trials she learned from Nicole's notes and diaries of alleged abuses in the her sister's marriage.
"You know, people always ask me, 'Well, why didn't she tell you? Why didn't she do this; why didn't she do that? ... What I've learned from the women and children in the shelters, the men in the batterer treatment programs ... I learned that she was sucked into the [domestic violence] cycle. It's about power and control."
The Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation focuses on the special needs of battered women and children, specifically the need for long-term transitional housing. Brown also testified in front of the U.S. Senate on behalf of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.
"Wonderful, wonderful things happen in that program [Violence Against Women Act], and so that was huge, a huge piece of legislation that we helped pass. I am very proud of that one," Brown said.
She keeps active and motivated helping domestic violence victims by visiting shelters and talking to those who are in desperate situations.
"I just don't want another person to have to suffer through something like we have. And I think that's what drives me; I know Nicole is with me," she said. "There's still the shame involved because people don't want to admit that they are in a cycle of violence. But what they need to realize is that they're not the only ones that this is happening to. It happens to many, many, many people in this world."
Brown still holds Simpson responsible for her sister's death, despite his acquittal in criminal court.
"I truly believe that Simpson killed my sister," Brown told CNN. "And you know ... when I see his face I just think, 'Oh, why are you here? Why are you still on the face of this earth?'"
In the 11 years since the killings, Brown has maintained a relationship with Nicole's children, Sydney and Justin, who live in Florida with their father.
And every year the Brown family holds a candlelight vigil in Nicole's memory.
"I sit there and I think, 'God, it's been almost 11 years since I told her I loved her, that I haven't talked to her on the phone,' that's what kills me. That's the hardest part for me. ... It's just such a senseless, senseless murder, a senseless thing that happened to her."
(Thanks to HOLLY for bringing this date to my attention!!)