When Denise Brown found out that her sister Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered on June 12, 1994, she was devastated and confused.
“I had lost my best friend,” Brown said. “My sister Nicole, who I had been extremely close to my whole life, was dead. I also was the first to say that she wasn’t a battered woman, but I didn’t know everything that she was keeping from me.”
However, Brown decided to take an active role in the prevention of domestic abuse after her sister’s death.
“I looked at her diary and I was shocked at what she’d been hiding,” Brown said. “There was a cycle of violence involved with her relationship that I didn’t know existed – we hadn’t been raised in an environment like that. Unfortunately, it took my sister’s life ending to wake me up to domestic abuse.”
Services Offering Safety (SOS), the local domestic abuse prevention and education group, hosted Brown and Emporia High School Thespians’ production of “dont u luv me?” at the Granada theatre Monday night.
“I thought it was a great presentation and it’s great that (Brown) is spreading the word about domestic abuse,” said Jessica Fleming, freshman criminal justice and sociology major. “I have been in an abusive relationship and this sort of presentation needs to be done more often. I wish it’d been there for me.”
The presentation began with the Emporia High School Thespian’s performance of “dont u luv me?” which portrayed an abusive high school relationship. The play utilized modern text messaging, language and cyber stalking to demonstrate what an abusive high school relationship may look like.
“I thought the play was fantastic,” said Cody Pritchard, junior math secondary education major. “It’s modern and that kind of thing happens every day. The young people watching may not have known what abuse looked like.”
After the play, Brown began her presentation on the necessity of strong community bonds and communication to prevent domestic abuse. Her sister’s story was an example of poor communication about domestic abuse, Brown said.
“It takes a lot of courage for someone to be willing to talk to you about domestic abuse,” Brown said. “If you make the call on their behalf you may be saving their life, and I wish I got to talk to my sister about what was happening to her.”
Brown also praised SOS and its program for being more proactive about domestic abuse than many programs around the nation.
“You guys do some really impressive work in Kansas,” Brown said. “I am really impressed, and I hope that other counties or states will follow your lead.”
Brown also mentioned the transfer of Domestic Abuse Awareness Month from October to May.
Brown concluded her presentation by explaining her view on the necessity of involving every member of society in the process of ending domestic violence. Brown put a particular emphasis on young men and boys.
“I love the ‘Hands Are Not For Hurting’ program that many schools have instituted,” Brown said. “My nephew still remembers learning the program as a child, and he’s a man now.”
A key point of Brown’s lecture was the importance of getting men in positions of power to encourage better legislation for Domestic Abuse victims and abusers.
“I agree with her that that’s the key,” said Joel Wilburn, junior secondary education major. “Men still have a lot of authority in some positions, and they need to help out just as much as women do.”
Brown’s final statements encouraged involvement by all members of a community.
“Get involved before it’s too late,” Brown said. “Get involved before it happens to your family, or get involved before it happens to someone that you love. Let’s not let evil prevail. We must meet the challenge of doing what’s right every day.”
Josh Johnson/The Bulletin