AWARE served nearly 1,000 Mercer County people in the last year.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU
WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. — Denise Brown knew little about domestic violence before her sister was killed June 12, 1994.
It was only after Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were slain outside Simpson’s home that her sister learned of the verbal, emotional and physical abuse her sister suffered when married to football star O.J. Simpson.
Simpson was acquitted in the 1994 slayings.
Brown has spent the past 12 years traveling the world trying to educate people about domestic violence and promote legislation that would stop it.
She brought her message to Mercer County on Tuesday night as the keynote speaker at the 30th anniversary dinner for AWARE — Women: Advocacy, Resources and Education — the county’s only full-service facility for victims of domestic violence.
Brown met with the media before the dinner to explain her mission.
“We’re here to educate the community about the cycle of domestic violence,” she said.
Brown noted that it’s not just physical, but verbal and emotional abuse that people need to understand.
“What I’ve learned is I’m not alone in my loss,” Brown said. She’s learned that the problem of domestic violence is pervasive throughout the world.
Brown, however, believes that awareness of the problem has grown since her sister’s death and the highly publicized trial of her former brother-in-law.
Today, Brown can easily recite the names and purposes of programs that help victims and educate others. She’s even gotten involved with helping make Neighborhood Watch programs more open to looking for domestic violence.
“We need to reshape our society. Let’s start being responsible for what we do and our future,” she said.
Brown says she expects to make domestic violence awareness her life’s work.
“In the beginning, it was for Nicole and that she didn’t die in vain. Now it’s so much more than that,” she said. “We don’t want to see another victim like Nicole.”
Lizette Olson, AWARE director, said Brown’s visit was just part of the group’s first effort at thanking the community it has served for the last 30 years.
Several community members, including a victim of domestic violence who has devoted her life to helping other victims, were honored at the dinner at the Radisson Hotel in West Middlesex.
AWARE in the last year helped nearly 1,000 families impacted by domestic and sexual violence. The services include a 24-hour hotline, emergency response, medical and court accompaniment for victims, emergency and transitional housing and advocacy for victims.