Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend

Kasandra Michelle Perkins didn’t deserve to die. Described as full of life, smart, and dedicated by those who knew her, the 22-year-old new mother and aspiring educator was just starting live. Instead, she was murdered at the hands of her boyfriend, pro football player Jovan Belcher.

After the media painted Belcher as a good man who simply “snapped” and shot Kasandra and then himself, more details have begun to leak about their troubled relationship.

Reportedly, the pair’s union took a hit after the birth of their daughter. One of Perkins’ relatives said their relationship “wasn’t a healthy thing,” another friend admitted Belcher drank “a lot,” and others are hoping this heinous incident had to do with the pro athlete’s football career that could have resulted in a brain injury, rather than something more difficult to cope with: domestic violence.

While more details will surely come out in the coming weeks and months, the facts remain the same: Kasandra Perkins was killed at the hands of the one she loved.

Although tragic, sadly Perkins’ fate isn’t unique. According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center three women and one man are murdered every day by their partner, and if you’re a black woman like Perkins, your chances of being killed by your significant other dramatically increases. As a matter of fact, the number one killer of black women in Perkins’ age group (15 to 34) is homicide by a current or former intimate partner.

While the media continues to grapple with the hows and the whys of this tragic situation, I can’t help but wonder how we can prevent these types of crimes from taking place.

As evidenced by my previous article, I feel that if our society was less reliant on guns perhaps this, and other senseless tragedies, could have been avoided, but as many readers pointed out the problems are deeper than merely controlling guns.

Though it’s unclear if Belcher was in fact mentally ill, or simply “snapped,” or killed Perkins in a fit of jealousy, or rage, the fact remains that he didn’t have the tools to cope with his emotions and he hurt the one he vowed to protect. And unfortunately, Perkins was unable to get the live-saving help she needed to survive.

For many African Americans—and especially those under the glaring spotlight of the media—getting the mental health services necessary to cope with life’s stressors or past emotions is sometimes last on the list. We are taught to pray about it. Many of us find comfort in the bottle. And others take their dysfunctions out on others. But admitting that you need help is often seen as a sign of weakness, and for many young black men like Belcher, being weak is seen as the worst possible thing a man can be. And sadly, the way many men choose to express their manhood comes at the expense of the women closest to them.

It is unclear where Belcher fell on this spectrum, but Kasandra Perkins lost her life because he couldn’t cope with whatever was going on in his head, and that is beyond tragic because it could have been avoided.

As writer and activist Kevin Powell pointed out, men’s reliance on violence as a means to express their manhood can be combatted through intense therapy, surrounding themselves with supportive people, and a willingness to change.

Ironically, back in his college days Belcher, who held a degree in child development and family relations, joined the organization Male Athletes Against Violence and took a pledge to educate himself about domestic violence while upholding anti-violence views, be a positive role model for his community, and look “honestly at [his] actions in regard to violence and make changes if necessary.”

I wished he, and other men who have taken the lives of their loved ones, could have kept that pledge.

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  • paul

    RIP to Kassandra RIP Jovan.

    I don’t know these people well enough to feel a personal loss in their passing, all I know is a young couple have died in tragic circumstances and that it’s probably too soon for anyone – except perhaps those directly affected by their deaths and those investigating it – to have an opinion that counts as anything more than vulturistic speculation.

    That some have already made up their minds about the whys and wherefores of this sad event only shows how little they care little about EITHER victim and that their only interest is to exploit the deaths of these young people to serve whatever axe they have to grind.

    One more thing

    People who think there is power in victim hood are their own worst enemy.

    • __A

      Ugh! I’m sorry. When is a murderer a victim? Was Mike Tyson a victim when he beat Robin Givens? Was Jeffrey Dahmer a victim? Is Charles Manson a victim? And you know what? Since there are so many readers bringing up mental illness as an excuse, I just want to mention that Charles Manson obviously has mental issues. Does that make me see him as a victim? No. He’s scum. I think just about any human being that would hurt another person must be off their rocker. Should we make excuses for all criminals. Are they victims as well?

  • ImDisappointedNow

    The discussion under the gun control article should not have been closed. Two people are dead and an orphaned baby has been left behind. I understand a few people weren’t pleased, however, I thought the purpose of Clutch was to have “mature” educated conversations to work towards a common goal to alleviate issues within our community. The discussion became a battle between gun control and domestic violence when in fact both are an issue. I’m just saying (in regards to this awful tragedy) I was hoping that Clutch supporters could agree to disagree for the sake of resolution.

    • __A

      I don’t think this has anything to do with gun control. That’s like thinking this whole situation would have never happened if the man weren’t able to get a gun. No. It is the mentality that he had. He could have beat or stabbed her to death. Talking about gun control makes sense when you talk about Virginia Tech or the Aurora theater shooting or gang violence(well those are illegal), but it does not make sense to me in this particular domestic violence situation.

      To say that gun control was the problem here is like saying that if we disallowed guns, domestic violence would go away. This is about violence against women. The weapon of choice was a gun, but there are many other weapons.

      And gun control will always be an issue. Many people want their guns. I can see why. There will always be certain people who are able to get their guns: the criminals. So criminals can have guns to attack us, but law abiding citizens can’t have guns to protect themselves?