The Kasandra Perkins Tragedy: Shocking Facts About Black Women and Domestic Violence
(The Nation) A good person. Genuine. Pleasant. Nice. Hard-working. A family man. The media has used all of these terms to describe Jovan Belcher after he murdered Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend, the mother of his barely 3-month-old daughter, shooting her nine times. In fact, these glowing descriptors are all from just one article in The New York Times.
While mainstream media and supporters of Belcher have no problem spouting off flattery, most are hesitant to call what happened domestic violence. They’ve gone out of their way to suggest that Belcher murdered Perkins—who friends called ‘Kasi’—because of sustained head injuries or because of alcohol or drug abuse. A police officer, Sgt. Richard Sharp, has even suggested that Belcher committed suicide after killing Kasi because “he cared about her.”
It’s horribly offensive to laud a man who murdered his girlfriend and left his daughter parentless. It’s also irresponsible. When the media reports domestic violence murders as random tragedies—or when individuals say the perpetrator must have “snapped”—they enable a culture of violence against women…and give credence to the myth that there was nothing anyone could have done to stop it. It’s a dangerous lie that allows us to wash our hands of responsibility when it comes to the violence that is perpetrated against women. Because the truth is that murders like this are predictable.
Indeed, it has now come out that Belcher had a history of violence and controllingness in relationships with women. Reports indicate that Kasi was leaving or had left Belcher with their daughter. Women are most likely to be killed by their abusive partners when they try to leave. In fact, victims who leave an abusive relationship have a 75 percent higher risk of being murdered. Pregnancy and chilbirth excacerabte violent relationships and young black women are eleven times more likely than white women to be murdered while they are pregnant or in the year after childbirth.