'We've done something to make the world safer,' The 5 Browns sisters say

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 4 2012 5:00 p.m. MST

Deondra said she feels an urgency to see these laws passed to protect others, especially as she is a mother. It begs the question of where Lisa Brown, the Browns' mother, is in all of this, but the sisters have declined to take questions about her.

They said that they have found an incredible amount of strength in each other, in their faith and in the support of those family and friends who have stood by them, including their husbands. Desirae came close to tears when speaking of her two brothers, Gregory and Ryan.

"What has been beautiful in all this are the people who do support you, like my brothers who have been amazingly supportive and have made this process so much better," she said. "To see their support and to see them standing up for what they know is right, it's really meant the world to us."

Getting back on the stage with their brothers and sisters was an important part of the healing process, Deondra said. She said it is there where she again felt comfortable. But Desirae said she initially worried about how people would react to their story and experience.

"We didn't know if people would still want to hear us playing music," she said. "We didn't know if we'd still have a career. But in order to not let all that overwhelm us, we boiled it down to what was the right thing to do.

"And when it comes down to what was the right things to do — let this person go free or protect other people — it didn't matter what any other consequences would be."

The music played by The 5 Browns has always been stunning — five separate pianos, backed by five separate siblings playing intricate pieces in perfect time and harmony. But now, Desirae said there might be something more stirring to it.

"We definitely bring our experiences to our music," she said. "If anything, being more honest with who we are, with our past, with facing the future, I feel like our music is more authentic and we're playing more honestly in a way that we maybe didn't before. We're able to fully express certain emotions and feelings that we didn't before."

Neither Desirae nor Deondra refer to themselves as victims. Not once in an entire interview did they use any word other than "survivor."

"One of the things that is most taken away from you as a victim is your sense of self and the control and empowerment that you have in your own life, so, for us, victim has that connotation," Deondra Brown said. "A survivor is someone who's overcome. Who has battled, who has moved past and who is moving forward in their lives."

The sisters have watched other survivors of abuse — Elizabeth Smart in particular — come forward with confidence to see their abusers prosecuted and imprisoned. Deondra said she was "amazed" by Smart.

"It was amazing for us to see how she went through that most grueling process and come out ahead," she said, adding that she and her sister hope to make a positive change in the world by speaking about their experience. "We don't feel like the abuse defines who we are. We don't feel like it determines the choices that we make anymore."

The sisters themselves are incredibly strong, composed and confident. They say they still experience good days and bad days. It helped to see their father be brought to justice and helps to tell their story, confront it, share it — and some day get it behind them.

"The truth is powerful and that's a step," Desirae said.

"Even though it's grueling, it's powerful. And then, having my father put in prison. I've done something to make the world safer. I've done something to protect somebody else. I did the right thing."

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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