Talking with Tanya

Tanya Brown, the ex sister-in-law of O.J. Simpson, recently spoke on campus about domestic violence prevention. Brown holds a bachelor’s in counseling psychology and has completed one year of her master’s degree. UVU REVIEW had the opportunity to sit down with Brown and ask about domestic violence and her personal views on the O.J. Simpson case.

What’s your main message to UVU students?

Emotional abuse. So many times we educate the community on physical abuse, but it’s the emotional stuff [that’s important] because that’s where it all starts. My goal is to reach out to the audience of where it all starts and where it can end. I’m a firm believer of prevention. If we can recognize the hidden dangers of where it all starts, then that stuff might still happen, but at least there’s an awareness that this isn’t right.

Was your family shocked that Nicole, your sister, had been a victim of domestic violence? Were there signs?

I was very young at the time so I didn’t know anything. From hearing Denise [my sister] in the court trial, she did witness domestic violence. At that time we didn’t know what domestic violence was. We just thought people maybe get angry, but we didn’t think people actually killed people. Denise did try to take my sister out three times or so and Nicole kept going back.

Do you feel that justice was served for Nicole?

No it wasn’t. Not at all. When somebody does something wrong like this, there should have been huge consequences.

How do you feel about O.J. Simpson and where he’s at in life now?

It doesn’t matter now. I’ve known this person since I was 7 years old. So I’ve known him pretty much my whole life. It’s so surreal that you don’t want to believe that it happened. You want to believe that they’re not that person. But they are and people like that are dangerous. But now he’s finally doing time… not just for Nicole and Ron [Goldman] but for all this stuff he’s done.

How did you and your family heal from this traumatic event?

We never really did. We were immersed in something that was very intrusive. We had helicopters over our house, five to seven at a time, for months. People would sneak into our community and we’d find them sitting in our house. There were news reporters on every corner. We had satellite dishes zoning in on our conversations inside our house. Whenever we needed to have a conversation, we had to go down to the beach.

We were also scrutinized even when we smiled, asking us why we were smiling. If we cried, they would ask why were we crying. We had kids to think about. Our energy went to [the kids] and they were a good distraction, but it didn’t permit us to really acknowledge our own grief.

For me, five years ago this October, all that grief came out in one night and it put me in the behavioral health department at our local hospital for 10 days. That’s where my healing process began.

What’s your advice to people going through the healing process?

Acknowledge your emotions. Don’t ignore them. Whatever it is that you’re feeling or going through, talk to somebody. If you have a hard time talking to somebody, then sit down with a journal and write it out. Don’t hold it in because it will bite you later on. Just acknowledge your emotions because what stays in will eventually have to come out.

Brown hopes for an ongoing open discussion of domestic violence awareness after her visit to UVU. She recommends that people stay connected by visiting her Web site, by blogging, e-mailing her questions, or sending awareness campaign ideas.

For more information, visit or e-mail at

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