Nicole Brown Simpson’s sisters share warning signs over domestic abuse in her marriage to OJ

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Thirty years on from the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, her sisters have shared the devastating impact of her death on their lives, and how it has spurred them to raise awareness about domestic abuse.

Denise, Dominque and Tanya Brown are appearing in new Lifetime documentary, “The Life & Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson”, to talk about their sister’s life, her relationship with infamous sports star OJ Simpson, the abuse she suffered at his hands, her killing, and the public spectacle of the murder trial.

“She was my best friend and the one thing I could not protect her from was the monster she was married to,” Tanya says in a trailer for the documentary.

Simpson was brutally stabbed alongside her friend Ron Goldman outside of her Brentwood, California home on June 12, 1994. Her ex-husband, OJ Simpson, was charged with the murders but aquitted by a jury at what became known as the “trial of the century”. Simpson died from prostate cancer in April at the age of 76.

For the last three decades, the Brown sisters have been anti-domestic violence advocates, educating the public on signs of abuse as well as advising and supporting victims. In the new documentary, Dominque shares how she missed signs of abuse because Simpson and OJ seemed “very loving toward each other.”

Simpson’s private diary told a different story about the relationship, one filled with verbal, emotional and physical abuse.

In a separate interview with Good Morning America, the sisters explained that they didn’t know how to handle confronting Simpson about the abusive relationship or what resources to use to help her.

Denise told interviewer Diane Sawyer that she asked Simpson the “why” questions you’re not supposed to ask: “Why don’t you just get out of this relationship? Why don’t you just leave him?”

“Those are things you don’t say and I didn’t realize that at the time,” she added. “You are supportive and you just let them do the talking.”

Dominque explained that she wonders if she could have “done more” to help Simpson.

The sisters have used their voices and Nicole’s story to advocate for legislation to support victims of domestic abuse, including the Violence Against Women Act.

Denise said that she hopes the new Lifetime documentary will show people who Simpson was before her murder became the “trial of the century”.

Nicole Brown Simpson, ex-wife of O.J. Simpson, who was slain along with a friend, Ronald Lyle Goldman (left), at her home (AFP/Getty)
Nicole Brown Simpson, ex-wife of O.J. Simpson, who was slain along with a friend, Ronald Lyle Goldman (left), at her home (AFP/Getty)

The Brown sisters said they have spent much of the past 30 years learning to overcome “unresolved grief” and “pain” from their sister’s murder and the trial. Tanya said it has taken “a lot of therapy” to work through her emotions.

Denise said that OJ Simpson’s recent death left her with mixed emotions. “It’s very confusing. But I have a relationship with the kids that means everything to me and I was just very, very sad [for them],” she said. Nicole Brown Simpson and OJ Simpson had two children together during their marriage.

Tanya told People magazine that his death marked “the end of a chapter.”

She said: “This is a person who’s been in our life for a very long time, who wreaked havoc on our family.”