Special Reports

Crystal Brame memorial also a call to action

It was a day to honor Crystal Brame, and a reminder to the community that it's not too late for other domestic violence victims.

About 120 domestic violence activists and others gathered at Tacoma's Wright Park Saturday afternoon to celebrate Brame's life and honor her memory. Organizers chose Wright Park because it was one of Brame's favorite places, according to family members.

"It's just sad what happened," said Cathy Juneau of Tacoma, as she clutched a tissue. "And with Mother's Day tomorrow, it just puts a lump in my throat."

Lorian Collins, a domestic violence survivor, brought Red Vines candy in Brame's honor. Collins said she read in Brame's obituary that the mother of two had an affinity for licorice and kettle corn.

"I felt moved to be here and to remember Crystal," Collins said.

The memorial also provided an opportunity for antidomestic violence organizations to reach out to women in need.

Various support and advocacy groups waved signs, distributed pamphlets and spoke out to emphasize to women that resources and help are available.

"There's a lot of folks working against domestic violence," said Ann Eft, director of the Pierce County Commission Against Domestic Violence. "We want this to be a day of action."

Steven Pepping, chairman of the Pierce County Commission Against Domestic Violence, urged people to demand from their legislators more accountability and programs that identify police officers who also are batterers.

"Domestic violence is not a civil matter," Pepping said. "It never has been."

The memorial also gave domestic violence survivors a chance to tell their stories.

Marsha Osborn of Tacoma told the crowd that domestic violence can happen regardless of one's race, profession or socio-economic status.

Osborn, 56, said she left her husband six years ago after nearly 30 years of marriage.

Still healing from a black eye, cuts and a sore hip, a woman named Lea Ann, who declined to give her full name, proudly told the crowd that she left her abusive husband last week.

"The unfortunate tragedy of Crystal empowered me to leave my husband, and I'm sure it will empower other women," she said.

Organizers said Saturday's memorial is just the beginning of their fight against domestic violence. The next step, they said, is to reach out further to the community and to get those not present at the memorial to make a commitment to end domestic violence.

"It's those who are not here we need to reach," Doug Butcher said.

Cecilia Nguyen: 253-597-8692