STUART, VERO BEACH, FL--It took Denise Brown more than a decade to deal with her anger from her sister’s highly publicized death.
But only last year was she able to start sharing her family’s experience of losing Nicole Brown Simpson in June of 1994.
“I didn’t think it was about me or about Nicole or about our family, because domestic violence happens to so many people around the world,” she said.
After 15 years of traveling the globe to raise awareness about domestic violence, Brown plans to come to the Treasure Coast for the first time to speak on behalf of SafeSpace shelters for domestic abuse victims.
The “Every Woman is My Sister” luncheons are March 18 in Stuart and March 19 in Vero Beach.
“We want to help raise awareness for these organizations,” she said. “You don’t give the address of a shelter, but you have to make people aware in the community that this shelter does exist.”
Growing up with three sisters in a peaceful home, Brown said she didn’t recognize the signs of domestic violence when reading her sister’s notes and diary.
“I didn’t know about the cycle of domestic violence,” she said. “I thought it was an isolated incident.”
Her sister’s husband, ex- NFL-football star O.J. Simpson, was accused and acquitted of Nicole’s murder, as well as that of her friend Ronald Goldman, during a lengthy televised 1995 criminal trial. The murders remain unsolved.
Brown said her sister’s death made people realize domestic violence happens not only to the poor and the homeless it also hits people living the good life.
“If I would’ve known then what I know now,” she said, “I do truly believe (things could’ve been different).”
Now her mission is to educate people about domestic violence, which Executive Director Jill Borowicz said is in line with the shelters’ mission to let victims know they have somewhere to go for help.
“Unfortunately, her sister’s case was and is the most sensational domestic violence homicide there is,” Borowicz said. “Millions of people understand what went on (and) watched diligently the proceedings and had followed the family’s journey since then.”
The shelters, which serve Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties, are celebrating their 30th anniversary with the luncheons.
“It’s huge to have someone like Denise Brown come here,” Borowicz said.
As the shelters’ first major event, she plans to continue bringing in celebrities each year to speak about domestic violence.
“Murder is the ultimate form of domestic violence,” she said. “It’s happening way too much.”
Brown cited statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice:
Four women die each day at the hands of someone they love and trust
Four kids die each day from abuse and neglect
81 percent of kids who die from abuse and neglect are under age 4
70 percent of men abusing women are also abusing their children
73 percent of domestic violence incidences go unreported
“We still need to keep pushing forward,” she said. “Once the numbers start going down, then I feel like we’re on the right path.”
LUNCHEONS WITH DENISE BROWN
March 18: Hutchinson Island Marriott in Stuart
March 19: Oak Harbor Club in Vero Beach
Registration: 11:30 a.m.; luncheon at noon
Tickets: $125 each by calling (772) 223-2399 or go to SafeSpace’s administrative center, 632 S.E. Monterey Road, Stuart
Copyright 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.