By know you’ve heard or read, NFL player Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins Sunday morning and then killed himself. What you may not have heard or read are the other stories in the past month, of men who killed women and then themselves, and one story from September. In November, a man in Ohio killed his wife, and men in North Carolina and Maine shot and killed their estranged wives. All three men committed suicide. And in September, another Chiefs employee killed his on-again, off-again girlfriend before killing himself. These are just the murder-suicide stories that turned up in a Google search. Statistics tell us more women were murdered by the men in their lives in that time period.
According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, in the United States, on average, more than three women a day are killed by their intimate partners. Black women ages 25 to 29 are 11 times as likely as white women in that age group to be killed when pregnant or in the year after childbirth. Perkins and Belcher had a three-month old daughter together.
A Google news search this morning for Jovan Belcher turns up 905,000 results. A search for Kasandra Perkins turns up 41,800. Because he was an NFL player, Belcher generates headlines, and theories, on what happened. Some have posited Belcher’s actions were the result of head trauma, lack of gun control, an argument, and sadly, but not surprising, Perkins. But the fact is, this was an act of domestic violence.
Belcher’s fame will continue to generate coverage and discussion of this story. That’s a good thing for raising awareness about the epidemic that is domestic violence. But it is critical that we focus on the issue, not just inside the NFL, but all across our population; that we remember the victims, and not just the famous names involved; and that we are clear that a concussion, a late night at a concert, even a gun (although guns make violence more accessible), aren’t the reasons Perkins died. Domestic violence is the reason she died.
Prayers for all involved.