Denise Brown addresses Hope Within

EVERETT — The Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County’s fourth annual Hope Within luncheon drew 680 attendees Sept. 30, twice the number of attendees it attracted last year, with Denise Brown as its keynote speaker.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the murder of Brown’s sister, Nicole Brown Simpson, as well as the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which was reinstated this year. Brown praised DVS of Snohomish County for its work, especially with teenagers, but noted that “we’re still losing three to four women every day” to domestic violence.

Brown illustrated how important it is to educate young people about domestic violence by recalling the violence-free childhood that she and her sister shared, and the warning signs she overlooked in her sister’s relationship with her ex-husband. Denise didn’t learn of the full extent of the abuse that Nicole suffered until after Nicole’s death, when Denise read her journals.

“Nicole always stood tall with a smile on her face,” Brown said. “I saw all these flowers and jewelry, but I wonder now how many of those were bought to make up for her abuse.”

Brown remembered her first meeting with her sister’s future husband, and the fight that followed between those two, as well as the trip their family took to Hawaii when Nicole came out to the beach covered up, to hide the evidence of her physical abuse. Denise regarded the fights as isolated incidents and didn’t realize Nicole was being beaten, even after she found a photo showing Nicole with a black eye, which Nicole claimed was studio makeup.

Brown described domestic violence victims as sharing in common the hope that their situations will get better, the shame that makes them hide their abuse from others, and the fear of wondering where they would go and what they would do if they left their abusers.

Brown cited the “Hands are not for hitting, words are not for hurting” pledge, which she’d done with her family’s children, as well as the number of men in the audience, as examples of how “it takes each of us to make a difference.”

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