Intervention: Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Hit

by Evette Dionne

In the aftermath of the agonizing Jovan Belcher/Kasandra Perkins murder-suicide, media outlets and sports anchors have been examining possible triggers for Belcher’s heinous crime. But in the liner notes of the chatter about America’s gun culture, the prevalence of mental illness in football, and the shunning of black men’s mental health are the disturbing statistics.

  • A 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) from the Centers for Disease Control discovered that 1 in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • This statistic increases among African-American women, who experience domestic violence at a rate that is 35 percent higher than Caucasian women.
  • The University of Minnesota’s Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community found that thought black women comprise 8 percent of the U.S. population, but in 2005 accounted for 22 percent of the intimate partner homicide victims and 29 percent of all women victims of intimate partner homicide.

Though these deaths have rattled our culture because of the prominence of the perpetrator, intimate partner violence is a societal ill that stems from patriarchy. We have not determined what caused Belcher to unleash bullets into his daughter’s mother, but her murder symbolizes the continuous battle against violence in relationships.

Kasandra Perkins and Zoey Belcher (their daughter) are the victims in this tragedy. Although we are still learning more details about the personal lives, family, and friends of the two victims, in most of these instances, however, there are forgotten grievers: The close friends who may have known of this pattern of behavior, were powerless in stopping it, and are now feeling guilty.

I am one of the 74 percent of Americans who knows someone who has been a victim of domestic violence.  I watched those episodes of “Maury” with the abusers and the drill sergeants and thought that this plateau of violence would never permeate my life.

That changed when I was a junior in college. A close friend’s partner was using abusive words to shred her self-esteem. It was surreal to watch her fold into the fetal position and bawl until she was physically ill when he threatened to leave after he hurled insults at her for hours.

As in most relationships, their courtship started off well.  He wined, dined, and loved her, though he was unemployed without a high school diploma or career prospects. His need to control her — while also lessening her confidence to improve his — began to shroud the positives in their relationship. By the end, his hands had been around her throat, he had used social media to destroy her reputation in their hometown, and he still had complete control over her emotions. She told me that while he was choking her, all she could scream was how much she loved him.

I felt helpless watching the abuse from the sidelines. Regardless of the emotional support I provided and the “Girl, leave him! He is abusive” speeches, she still continued the relationship. She was fortunate enough to escape with her life. A lot of other women aren’t as fortunate. I can’t begin to fathom how Perkins’ friends are coping with her sudden loss.

Being the friend of an abuse victim puts many women in a difficult and painful position, but it is essential to realize how valuable that friendship is.  The University of Minnesota’s Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community reports that “women in abusive relationships need the support of friends and family. Battered black women who reported that they could rely on others for emotional and practical support were less likely to be re-abused, showed less psychological distress, and were less likely to attempt suicide.”

By supporting her, listening to her, refusing to pass judgment, encouraging her to seek help, and not spreading her business, friends have the power to intervene without being obtrusive.

Be Supportive

This is much easier said than done, but most abusers isolate their victims, so if you’re a confidante, cherish the position and use the power wisely.

Don’t Pass Judgment

I included this tip because I am guilty of it.  I didn’t realize that I was passing judgment when I would spew negativity about her relationship, but that’s precisely what I was doing. Do not voice opinions. It might be perceived as an attempt to degrade the relationship, which is not what that friend needs or want.

Just Listen

Sometimes, listening instead of offering advice is best.

Confidentiality is Key

Keep her business private, period. She might withdraw and isolate herself, which can aid in the escalation of the abuse.

Encourage Her to Seek Professional Help

All forms of abuse take a toll on the victim’s self-esteem, which enables the abuser to continue his/her behavior. Professional help during and after an abusive relationship is essential to the survivor, so use conversations to encourage your friend to seek professional help at a local counseling center.  If she is hesitant to attend, offer to accompany her.

Friends don’t let friends face abuse alone.

  • __A

    “He wined, dined, and loved her, though he was unemployed without a high school diploma or career prospects.”

    He was probably jealous of her being in school and doing something with her life. Women ignore so many red flags because we’re told to give people a try and lower our standards. Also, young people get in relationships for things like sexual attraction and infatuation(what they think is love), and they tend to overlook big things (lack of employment) that will cause a problem in relationships down the line. This man sounded like he had nothing going for him. He had no power in his life. He saw controlling and abusing a weaker woman as a way to have some power. I think women should be on the lookout for men who are not happy at work or in life who are also verbally abusive to you.

    Too many women think they can be some man’s personal savior. They think they can cure a depressed man with their love. They think they can change a verbally or physically abusive man with their love. Actions speak louder than words. I know it can be hard for women in abusive relationships, but I think people should also warn women about the signs before they even start with some men because the men will be sweet in the beginning. Then the woman is infatuated with him and in love which makes it harder to get her out of the situation.

    There are so many books about “thug love” and movies and whatever about dating men who are down on their luck. Women think they can do this in real life. There is a difference between a man being poor and down on his luck vs. depressed and unemployed or hating his job. These are RED FLAGS to avoid these types of men. I think movies and media encourage women to ignore these red flags and paint the dishonest picture that bad boys can be great loving partners. Pain comes with love, and all he needs is your love to be a good man. Obviously individual situations are different, but in general, it is never a good idea to date a man who you have to try to change to be a good partner because he’s not that nice of a person in the first place.

    We should also be telling women how to spot men who are not good partners and potential abusers. I feel as if women are told to ignore these signs like we’re being stuck up for not talking to certain men.

  • Kacey

    “Be not mislead, there are people (men and women) that could benefit from experiencing a bit of physical abuse.”

    Such as yourself, perhaps? It appears you should take your own remedy.

  • Seriously?

    Some of the men that comment on this site are annoying and delusional.

    Abused men? Yes we should talk about men being abused on a woman’s site when violence against women is much more common than the reverse. Why don’t male sites talk about violence against men by women? I know why. They’re too busy talking about sex. Get out of here with that!

    They side with men on everything even when men are wrong. When that rapper beat that woman in her own apartment, they made excuses. This football player shot his girlfriend, they made excuses. There was a basketball player that beat his girlfriend on tape, people were blaming the mother. Now he thinks that maybe this woman deserved to be choked. It’s funny because they come here asking why we aren’t more male identified when they can never even sympathize with women themselves. They are quick to try to blame the woman for something. Gabby Douglas’s father is a deadbeat. Quick let’s blame the mother. Let’s say Gabby is attention seeking. Please.

  • Danni

    Go play somewhere else Billy Paul. No one wants to play your games today.

  • Smilez_920

    100% agree.

    We have to teach our daughters at a early age what abuse looks like. I think a lot of women see abuse as just a man hitting a woman. They don’t take emotional and mental abuse into account.

    A lot of young women have this moto like ” relationships go through tough times , you have to work through it”. While I understand the quote I feel like a lot of women especially young women apply it in the wrong situations .

    I know a few girls who were smacked around in high school by their boyfriends once or twice, but continued to see them and even have baby’s with them right after highs cool. Two of the girls were dating guys who were younger than them and still went through this type of bs. We have to teach our daughters how to love themeselves, how to value themselves and teach them that while love and relationships can be great, they are not the end all be all and they are not worth your mental , spiritual , emotional and physical health.

  • Miss A

    This is a powerful article and I really hope women adhere to the advice and the content of this article. Unfortuantely I have been in the situation and on the sideline. About 15 years ago, I was in a relationship with a verbally abusive man. As I read this article, I realized this man was not employed, was unhappy, and didn’t trust women (abandonment issues from his Mother). I was just the opposite and deep down inside, I believe he was jealous of how well my life was going and did everything in his power to bring me down to his level. He was very sweet and caring in the beginning, wined, dined, and sweet talked me to the point where I didn’t want to lose him regardless of the countless arguments and constant degradation. He threatened me so it was very difficult to threaten to leave him when I finally reached my breaking point. I gained weight, was depressed, and self esteem was non-existent. My only savior was my brother who found out and told him to leave my house on his own or with .357 Magnum bullets in his chest!

    Ladies, please seek help if you are in this kind of situation before it is too late.

  • ceecee

    Friends also don’t watch by their sidelines when they know their friend is in a physically abusive situation. There are so many resources out there. You could have driven your friend to get counseling, called the cops if you ever did witness physical abuse.

    Being a listening ear is not the only way to show support as a friend.

  • paul

    As I’ve said before on this site, the one thing that’s always absent from people’s checklists is the requirement that a prospective mate have strong ethical principles . .

    for example – an aversion to guns and violence.

    If I were a woman, a man whose hobby is collecting guns would be far more of a red flag to me than a man who hated his job. If hating one’s job makes one a potential murderer then I’m never leaving the house. LOL sheesh clueless or what?

  • EST. 1986

    “They’re too busy talking about sex. Get out of here with that!”

    Sex, sports, women, the latest Air Jordans, and Hip Hop

  • The Whole Truth

    Often times in these abusive relationships there is verbal and physical abuse by both individuals. This notion that all of these black women are timid and meek is intellectually dishonest at best. There are a lot of aggressive black women. The biggest difference is men are bigger and stronger. Abuse is never acceptable. Say what you have to say, keep it moving and never get in a man face.

  • nataya1280

    Honestly if you friend chooses to be in an abusive relationship there really isnt anything you can do about it. Speeches and sermons can create a wedge between you two. All you can honestly do is be there for them when they are ready. Try to encourage them and build up their self esteem without downing their partner. When they are ready they will leave. My friend didnt speak to me for a few years until she figured her way out of her situation. Not bc I said anything to her but bc she knew me and knew that I would not accept that for her. But its what she wanted (that idea of the perfect relationship… happy ending) eventually she got tired and woke up. Luckily she didnt end of dead or anything but there wasnt anything I could do but hope she was in the meantime. She cut everyone out here life except him for that period of her life.

  • J. Nicole

    I’ve had two close friends deal with abusive boyfriends, one over a decade ago & one very recently.

    In the 1st case, as with the story it started off the same: he wined & dined her yet he lived at home, already had a child and didn’t finish JHS (we were just finishing HS at the time & he was maybe 5 years older than us). Immediately I knew she was out of his league but I figured it was puppy love. When he started getting violent, I did what was expected of a girl in her late teens: we jumped him. The two of us were still match for him, but I did hit him with household items to let him know “don’t eff with my bff”… Well, as you can guess she went back to him. And as the beatings got worse and the verbal abuse got worse, I’d step in. I’d tell her family and would give her as much advice as possible but she never listened. I realized I needed to step away from the situation when I stooped to *his* level & berated her for staying with him. I lost respect for her and decided to stay out of it. Fast forward to today & they are still together; in fact married with children. I check on her from time to time but its been over a year since we spoke. Within that time another close friend of mine started seeing a man (again, nothing going for him) who is abusing her. I gave her advice but she chooses to stay with him. He’s become violent with her family as well and they’ve asked me to talk to her. I try to lead by example and as cold as it may seem to some, I’ve completely turned my back on not her, but the situation. When she tells me what he’s done I tell her flat out I don’t want to hear it. If and when she’s ready to give him up, I will support her in any way possible. We live in a day & age where there are way too many options/outlets to seek help.

  • MimiLuvs

    I wish someone from Clutch would write an article (or perhaps… create a survey) asking for the men commentators to explain why are always visiting an online women’s magazine?
    Every once in a while, a woman commentator would ask the $69,000 question of “Why are you here?” and none of them ever answers the question.
    I doubt any of them, IRL, attend women-catered events and talk ish about these ladies.
    I doubt you will find any of their local VFW Hall, on Ladies’ Gin Rummy Night, being antagonistic and acting belligerent.

  • mr.vicious

    If its about violence then its about violence, not about women. There is a stat that women initiate violence against their mate, but where is the opposition to that. Also include lesbian DV, where is the outrage toward shameka holdsclaw. If its about violence, then focus on violence, not gender 1st, violence second.

    What does gabby father have to do with this? If he is away he cant be violent towards her can he. So that point in beyond moot.

  • mr.vicious

    If you notice the only time men come in is when you bring bm into the topic, sometimes BM are not even in the post or headline, but some women bring men into the conversation.

    And men need to be here to bring balance to the topic, I learn alot about BW from sites like this, more need to come here and get the real mentality of BW in the community.

    If you dont want BM on this page, you probably dont want one in your life, and I need to know how to identify BW who have a disrespectful disposition towards bm.

    Lastly this is a place where lies are spread, IE dl men and aids, more bm in prison than college, bm are trying to keep white men away from bw…etc

    This site dose have advertising on it, im sure they dont have a problem with men coming here…

  • __A

    Yea. You should get a clue as well. Who said hating your job makes you a potential murderer? Also who said that hating your job is worse than loving guns and violence? Was it me? I think most women with any sense know that men who love guns and violence are kinda dangerous. This is obviously a red flag. Let me explain so you understand. I am talking about subtle red flags. I think any woman might be wary of a man who collects guns, and I would hope that people have enough comprehension skills to be able to understand that I never typed anything like that in my comment. Then again, I’m clueless. Maybe I missed where I said guns and violence make a man A-okay.

    I said a man who hates his job is a red flag. People work the majority of the day. How do you think it makes someone feel that they have to do something that they hate for 8 hours 5 days a week? I think it might make them unhappy and maybe even angry. I’ll let you use clues and problem solving to figure out why I think an unhappy and angry man might not be a good partner for a woman. Also use the clues and problem solving skills to realize that every man who does not like his work is not evil or abusive. Also every man that is evil and abusive does not hate his job. Also men who are evil and abusive may not have jobs. Also every man that has a job is not evil and abusive. Also every man that loves his job is not good and awesome. Also every man that is evil and abusive may not have/love/hate his job. Have I covered everything for you? I just wanted to make sure you weren’t clueless after reading this.

  • binks

    This! Sadly in a lot of situations your hands are tied because that person has to realize enough is enough and have to WANT help. I had a friend who was abused and I try to tell her to dump him, stop their fights (both verbal amd physical), get help, stick up for her but she would tell me to mind my business, said I was jealous or wanted her bf at the time….and like you said a wedge was created and she shut me out and we grew apart. LastI heard they broke up because the bf moved out of state.

  • Seriously?

    Mr. Vicious, I mentioned Gabby Douglas’s father because I said you all like to victim blame. The father is in the wrong, but people are trying to blame Gabby or say that the mother is wrong for not making Gabby have rosy thoughts of her absent father.

    And what do you learn about BW on this site? What is the real mentality of BW? What is disrespectful about anything I said? Nothing. If BW aren’t praising you and shaking their behinds in your videos (while be disrespected) and actually talking about things you all do, we’re being disrespectful. For every black woman on this site complaining about black men, there must be 5 videos on Youtube complaining about black women. Is that not disrespectful? Oh no. That’s the truth. You all think you all are giving us the truth, but when we give you some truth, we must be lying. We’re showing our disrespectful disposition.

    Please, have a seat. And who is talking about black men being on the dl or more men in prison than in college? This site is male identified about things like that in my opinion. There are plenty of articles on here talking about black men’s struggles that have thoughtful comments and no man bashing. There are articles on this site about black men’s struggles with education, violence, racial profiling, and unemployment. I rarely see black male sites talking about this kind of stuff. I rarely see young black men on Youtube trying to tell black men to go to school or learn a trade. As I mentioned, all you all talk about is how black women do this, how black women do that. Why is it up to a black woman’s website to talk about your struggles? The black community itself is male identified. We can’t even have our own website?

    As for your violence is violence comment as I mentioned, this is a woman’s site. The news is usually geared towards women. Rarely will you go to a male or female site and see both sides of the issue. Also let’s not pretend that Lorena Bobbitt incidents happen as much as girlfriend and wife beatings and shootings. You’re trying to say that female on male violence is just as common as male on female violence. It is not. When men have the level of violence committed against them by women as women have, maybe sites like this will start to talk about female on male violence more. This is like asking a black site why don’t they write about reverse racism. Racism is racism right? You’re ignoring the circumstances and the imbalance of power with male-female vs female-male violence and white on black racism vs black on white racism.

  • NCR


  • mr.vicious

    -As for your violence is violence comment as I mentioned, this is a woman’s site-

    Meaning that you are highly biased against men, black men in particular. Meaning you are very loyal to your gender and to hell with culture that includes bm. Which is reflective in the baby momma culture of no man in the home, as much as BW complain about BM not being there, when one shows up you complain about him being there…smh.

    Perspective is right that bw want bm leadership from a subordinate position.

    -You’re trying to say that female on male violence is just as common as male on female violence-

    Yes it is, women just are prepared for what happens after ward, the damsel in distress in more myth than reality. Women do initiate DV, but rarely get arrested for it.

    Imagine that BW didnt say anything on the bus, imagine if those two mcdonalds patrons didnt say anything. What would have happened then. Ill tell you, nothing… it would have been two less youtube vids less and two less things for you to feel like a victim about.

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  • Chika

    “We have to teach our daughters how to love themeselves, how to value themselves and teach them that while love and relationships can be great, they are not the end all be all and they are not worth your mental , spiritual , emotional and physical health.”

    I totally agree. We also have to teach our sons how to respect and value themselves enough to respect women.

  • Okay

    Do you have any data in regards to women initiating domestic violence? If so please post it. Thanks.

  • J. Gail (@Author_JGail)

    I think a trend is emerging from the stories you told and that of other women. A lot of young women of today seem to be *DEEPLY* lowering their standards just to have a boyfriend. I think it’s always been a trend in the black community for girls to accept partners who were not exactly in the same “station” in life (professional girl with blue collar brother), but now it’s starting to really become exaggerated. Hard working women who have a lot going for them are accepting do-nothing men into their lives — men who have *absolutely* no goals or aspirations. That’s a major problem.

    I think it’s up to the mothers (and fathers if they’re in the picture) to boost their self-esteem and inform them of their value from a young age. Thank you for this article, more needs to be said about this topic.

  • Lorri

    This is a hard one. As a counselor, I see the cycle of women who have friends who tell them, leave dude alone! And while we want to support them getting themselves together, we know in the end, it has to be the individual who decides they value themselves enough to move on. It’s frustrating but while friends can support, they can’t stop the situation.

  • redboneafropuff

    Makes me wonder what happened to one of my freshman year roommates whose boyfriend terrified her from a distance. And wonder what would have happened had my other roommate or I just said, “You know him threatening you is not okay, right?”

  • EntertainMeh

    You are ignorant. You are also reading what you want to read and then coming to your own conclusion. “woe is man and the rape and abuse we get from wimmins is too much!!” GTFOH.

  • Gail

    Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.

    Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Dep’t of Just., NCJ 183781, Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, at iv (2000), available at

  • Gail

    I remember as a young girl my father telling me that no one had a right to lay their hands on me in a violent way. Yet I have witnessed DV in others – my cousin’s husband used to beat her. Even as children we knew it and avoided him like the plague. My grand mother used to beg her to leave him and come live with her. She would not, she clung to the fact that he was her husband for better or worse. Her situation was the catalyst for the conversation I had with my father.

    While on active duty in the Army, I met a wonderful woman – she was white married to a Black soldier. This was her second marriage. She talked about how her first husband started beating her a week after their marriage and continued for two years. The first time it happened she went to her mother who told her it was her fault why he beat her. It got so bad once that she did not recognize herself in the mirror. She called her father who took one look at his daughter and move her and his granddaughter out of the house. His wife, her mother, did not speak to him for 10 years. My friend remarried to a wonderful Black man who cherishes her, his adopted daughter and their son. To this day the grandmother does not speak to him or her grandson. The grand daughter refuses to speak to the grandmother. Domestic violence comes in all shades.

    Another incident involved a male spouse getting beaten up by his wife. He was hospitalized with multiple lacerations, she was jailed for domestic abuse. He never laid a finger on her according to the neighbors who had to intervene. It took four burly military police offices to subdue her. What set her off, he forgot to grab a loaf of bread. She was a beautiful caramel colored girl and one one my soldiers.

    I asked my friend why she waited two years to leave her husband. She said because sometimes you have to get so low that you realize that there is not where to go but up. When he was asked why he did not hit his wife – she was 66 inches tall, he was a a six foot body builder- he said he was taught never to hit a woman. it was not the first time she had laid into him, but he was too embarrassed to report it. “How would it look, a big guy like me reporting my tiny wife for spousal abuse?”

    Domestic violence cuts both way, the statistics on men as victims may be artificially low because of that attitude, many men will not admit to being beaten up by a woman so they hide it.

    Just a few months ago a tipsy woman wanted to drive and her boyfriend took the keys, the disagreement ended up on my front lawn. She took off and walked to the police station where she accused him of hitting her and pushing her out of the parked car. The police knocked on my door. No officer, that is not what happened, There are false reports of domestic violence also.

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