By Shaun Delliskave | firstname.lastname@example.org
As a member of the virtuoso piano-playing siblings, The 5 Browns, Deondra Brown has been kept busy lately with the December 2019 release of their Christmas album and recording a new classical one. Brown also now focuses her efforts in support of the Children’s Justice Center’s SHINE campaign.
The 5 Browns have had three albums top Billboard Magazine’s Classical Album Chart. They have also advocated for child abuse victims’ rights after they revealed their father and former manager sexually abused some of them.
The Murray resident discussed her latest affiliation with SHINE with the Murray Journal and what she hopes will help victims of child abuse.
Q: While you have been vocal about your experiences with child abuse, what attracts you to this initiative?
A: As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I was drawn to the SHINE Campaign’s distinct message of hope and resilience. It celebrates the strength of abuse survivors and helps dispel the stigma that we are broken. If children who are experiencing abuse now see there are others like them out there who understand and believe them, I truly think they will feel more empowered to come forward. I know I would have.
Q: What exactly is SHINE, and what do you hope to achieve by being involved in such an initiative?
A: SHINE is a national campaign to transform the conversation about child abuse. Survivors need to know they are not alone. If we are reluctant as a community to talk openly about abuse, we reinforce the idea to survivors that they are shameful and forgotten. We have the power as a community to shift the narrative towards one of optimism and hope. We can send an important message of hope to children who are suffering abuse. It’s not all doom and gloom, and there are people to help.
Q: You have been advocating on behalf of the abused for some time now, what have you learned during your involvement?
A: I never realized the amazing services that are available to children who have been abused. There are 25 Children’s Justice Centers across the state that serve all 29 counties. They offer important services to help children heal and put their lives back together. They do the work of angels.
I’ve also been surprised at how far we’ve come as a state in the nine years I’ve been advocating for victims. We still have a way to go, but the tides have been shifting. Utahns are discussing the topic of abuse, and I’m optimistic about the future. The message of SHINE is an opportunity to take that a step further—to celebrate the strength and determination of survivors and challenge us to stand by them.
Q: What advice would you give to someone being abused or witnessing child abuse to get help?
A: It is up to all of us to be the eyes and ears of our children. As adults, we need to let them know they don’t need to carry the burden alone. In Utah, we are all mandated reporters under the law. If we suspect abuse may be happening, please don’t minimize it in your mind. Call Division of Child and Family Services (1-855-323-3237) and let them take it from there.
You don’t want to wonder years down the road if you could have helped a child in despair. And if you are being abused, you are not alone. Find an adult you feel you can confide in and let them share your load. There is help out there. I can tell you that the abuse can end if you let others help. And even though it may seem impossible now, you can go on to do all the things in your life you’d hope to.
Q: What has changed in your life since you were open about your experiences with child abuse?
A: I now have a sense of freedom that I didn’t have before. I no longer carry around that heavy burden I once did.
Q: Are you going to be involved with other child abuse prevention measures?
A: The SHINE Campaign will continue through the middle of 2021 with more ambassadors and efforts to come. I will continue to be closely involved with helping both in front of and behind the scenes. I will also continue to work on legislation in Utah and nationally to better protect victims under the law. And as long as there are courageous individuals and organizations in Utah moving the needle forward on child abuse prevention, I will be there to support, encourage, and help in any way I can. I’m proud to be from a state where protecting children is a priority.
Q: Finally, what new music projects do you have going?
A: The 5 Browns have another recording project “in the can” that will be released when the timing feels right—our eighth album. We also have a few interesting pieces we will premiere in concert soon. They are a bit of a departure from our usual, but we are excited.