Denise Brown to speak at Domestic Violence Services luncheon

Denise Brown, sister of Nicole Brown Simpson, will speak at the Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County
Denise Brown, sister of Nicole Brown Simpson, will speak at the Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County 'Hope Within' luncheon, Sept. 30 at the Everett Events Center.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Denise Brown

EVERETT — According to Denise Brown, she'll be serving as guest-speaker of the fourth annual "Hope Within" luncheon, hosted by Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County Sept. 30 at the Everett Events Center, for a simple reason.

"Because they asked me," said Brown, the sister of Nicole Brown Simpson. "Every organization that I work with is important to me. These shelters need to keep their doors open, and it doesn't matter to me where they are. Four women die from domestic violence every day, so I'll go anywhere I'm asked."

Not only does this year mark the 15-year anniversary of Nicole Brown Simpson's murder, but this month is also National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Denise Brown hopes to send the message that increased awareness of domestic violence can save lives.

"What is domestic violence?" Brown said. "It encompasses children, teenagers, spouses and intimate partners. A lot of times, people don't know about the cycle of domestic violence. It's about power and control. When one person puts the other down enough, it chips away at their self-esteem, until they're being beat down and they have no self-esteem left. It always escalates to physical violence, followed by the honeymoon phase, where they say, 'Oh, I'm so sorry.'"

By her own account, Denise Brown was not aware of the cycle of domestic violence when she first responded to the abuse of her sister Nicole. At the time, Denise regarded such incidents as isolated. Now, not only does Denise Brown seek to make people aware of the domestic violence that might be occurring in the relationships of people that they know, but she also wants people to become more aware of why abusers commit such abuse.

"A lot of people ask, 'Well, why did she stay in that relationship?'" Brown said. "The question they should be asking is, 'Why did he hit her?' We need to shift the focus onto the abusers, and why they do what they do."

Brown supports batterer treatment programs and education on domestic violence for children, as part of a broad-based program of social change to combat this problem. At the same time, she doesn't want to lose sight of the story of her sister Nicole, and who she was as a person. Looking back on it, Denise recalls "red flags" indicating Nicole's abuse, and she wants to open other people's eyes to similar warning signs.

"You can save a friend," Brown said. "You can learn how to talk to them intelligently about this issue and save their life, because the ultimate form of domestic violence is death, when someone is murdered."

Brown noted that the economic downturn has contributed to domestic violence, with the stresses of possible job or home losses, at the same time that it's resulted in a number of shelters being closed down.

"It's time for our society to band together on this issue," Brown said. "I'll work with any organization that calls me on this."

Doors to the Everett Events Center are set to open at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 30 for the "Hope Within" luncheon, with the program itself lasting from noon until 1:30 p.m. The cost is $10 per seat, or $100 for a table of 10. For information on becoming a table host or reserving a seat, you may call Julie Martin at 425-259-2827, ext. 13, or e-mail her at

Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County is dedicated to ending domestic abuse in Snohomish County, by providing a wide range of services to victims and facilitating social change. Domestic Violence Services offers assistance in numerous ways, including a 24-hour hotline that answers more than 5,800 calls each year, emergency shelter for more than 300 women and children, transitional housing for 20 families, support groups for more than 1300, legal advocacy to more than 3,200, and a children's program which serves more than 400 children.

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