The murder of Kasandra Perkins and the suicide of Kansas City Chiefs’ linebacker Jovan Belcher shocked the sports world over the weekend. While initially Belcher’s actions were portrayed as those of someone who “snapped”, new details are emerging that are beginning to show that the relationship between Perkins and Belcher bore an alarming similarity to many other domestic violence cases that end in homicide. Friends of Ms. Perkins report that the couple had been arguing since the birth of their child some three months ago. We know that pregnancy and the period after the birth of a child are dangerous times for victims, as abuse often escalates during these periods. Sometimes abusers feel that they are losing control over their intimate partner because she is too focused on the pregnancy or the new baby. Abusers often will use a victim’s relationship with a new baby to control her movements and activities. Reports indicate that on Saturday morning the couple was arguing over Ms. Perkins’ decision to attend a concert on Friday, Nov. 30. At least one friend of Ms. Perkins has said that the victim went to the concert against Mr. Belcher’s wishes, saying he did not want her to leave the baby at home.
But, we are able to find a bright spot, at least in the response to this horrific crime. The news media has avoided deifying Belcher and/or excusing his behavior. They have also avoided assassinating the character of Kassandra Perkins or blaming her for her own murder. Most welcome to those who try to bring attention to the horrific crime that is domestic violence was moment of silence for victims of domestic abuse observed prior to the start of the Chiefs – Panthers game. Everyone in Arrowhead Stadium, and everyone watching on TV stopped, at least for a moment, to remember the victims of this crime that has been taking our young people for generations.
Could it be that we are finally getting it? That our awareness about the crime of domestic violence has reached the point where attitudes are actually changing? New research shows this might be true. A new survey has been conducted in California showing the 66% of people say they have had a friend or family member who has been the victim of domestic abuse. Why is this so important? Because it shows a shift in attitudes – people are starting to realize that we all should care about domestic violence because it is not something that just happens to “other people” – it happens to our friends, mothers, cousins, nieces, daughters,. Less than 20 years ago, only 32 percent reported knowing someone who was a victim of domestic violence.
When a tragedy such as this happens, it is hard to find something positive. But if this shows us that we are making progress, that we are changing the way people think about domestic abuse, that we are all starting to see that we MUST care, perhaps this type of tragedy will not have been in vain.