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.

  • LemonNLime

    I’m sorry but I feel like this is a quick clean up article because of the previous article posted. The domestic violence portion of this horrible event should have been spoken about first. It almost seems like back peddling… too little, too late.

  • JJ

    This is just so sad. I think that too many young black people think dysfunctional relationships are normal. These two shouldn’t have been together. People especially black folks feel that no matter how dysfunctional a relationship is that somehow the two can work it out. Some relationships just can’t be worked out. I heard a statistic say that black women between the ages 25-29 or 11 times more like to be killed by their boyfriends/husbands than white women. I think a lot of that has to to with this mentality that we have.

  • Britni Danielle

    What is the saying? Hindsight is 20/20? While my thoughts in the previous article still stand, I mean that’s how I feel, I agree with you. Perhaps an article touching on DV or mental illness should have come first (even though we don’t know what role either of these played in this tragic incident). But again, I’m just one writer among many, any number of them could have touched on it & they didn’t.

    I appreciate your thoughts & comments, though. I do read them and I do glean from them helpful info (well, the helpful criticisms anyway lol).


  • MySister’sKeeper

    I agree and appreciate that she tried to backpeddle, but even the cleanup could have been done with more thought. We need to be careful with these sensitive topics and think before we react and respond.

  • Smilez_920

    When it comes to blk love ( man woman relationships) we have normalized dysfunction. From our relationship blogs, magazines and other media , it’s like dysfunctional blk relationships are the only ones we are given witness too.

    A lot of young blk women have normalized the dysfunction. Which allows mental , emotional and sometimes physical abuse to happen .

    We have to teach out daughters and sons what a healthy relationship looks like. Because when women love especially young women they love hard and naively . And there hope that the relationship will work out could get them killed.

    We also need to get our young men in check they need help, because their issues are killing our women.

  • http://www.geekmommarants GeekMommaRants

    This posting is an improvement over the “Lets say what Bob Costas said story earlier” Domestic Violence is the root cause of this tragedy. Men and women seeing each other as property and not have any idea that relationships are made of two self-determined adults and NOT a master/slave relationship. It is surprising the Clutch – well educated and smart Sistas would miss the boat on this issue.

    It’s Tuesday and men are still killing women in our community, and calling it anything else but hatred is missing the mark. If you disagree, replace the words men killing women to whites killing blacks. Same story, same truth.

  • Trisha

    This is very sensitive topic. In my opinion, we should discuss this topic from every possible angle to curve/prevent domestic violence issues. Controlling gun control is a start and discussing what causes dysfunctional relationship is one as well. At the same time, no issue is resolvable without tackling the root of the problem. In this case, it was mental issues amongst several. Where did his mental issue arise from? Even with receiving counsel proved insufficient. Perhaps it just wasn’t enough or the counseling intervention was a little too late. We can always speculate, but I do believe discussing various issues surrounding domestic violence cannot hurt. If we can resolve this issue and save another life, the effort has been well worth it.

    So many lives are unnecessarily lost prior to living a full life.

  • Dissapointed

    We as a so-called “race” of black people suck. I don’t really think that, but I’m just sad that my favorite mag has dropped the ball (pun intended) and a great writer mailed it with a rush job just to save face.

    I still believe in Clutch and Britni ( not that either care) but I hope this is just a hiccup and not a trend.

  • kc

    I think Kasandra’s murder (RIP) also speaks to how society devalues black women. All violence exists on a spectrum. When women are worthless, its easy to justify calling them “bitches and hoes,” to not only assault them, but film it as well, and to even murder the mother of your children. She was just another bitch, right? SMH…

  • Ken

    Thank you for writing this. As the news story broke, the media reported comments solely from those who knew the athlete, people who all praised him. It was uncomfortable to listen since the full story is he’s shot the mother of his child nine times. No one was apparently speaking for her. The oversight was galling. The oversimplified notion he just “snapped” is troubling since as you point out, it suggests the thorny and difficult truth of domestic violence was too much to contemplate. Nice guys are seen as unable to be violent and abusive partners, even though apparently when time passes and more information becomes available, invariably there’s a pattern of abuse. Reading the news and your article bring to mind Rihanna and Chris Brown. I hope she’s somewhere watching and contemplating her choice to be with Brown. His recent misogynistic rant and volatile reaction from a taunting female comic on twitter graphically display his inability to restrain his anger and to lash out, even verbally. The worse and most revealing part is that he sees his reunion with Rihanna as some justification he’s alright. He wrote, . That’s chilling since it shows he’s clueless about his previous violence and fails to grasp the implications. His defensive posture shows he’s taken no pledge and, in fact, feels victimized. If he “snaps” on Rihanna, or rather when, I hope she survives it. I fear, even if she does, the pop star won’t report it since she will fear being blamed for going back to him. And that may mean, they’ll move into a pattern of continued physical violence where he hits her with impunity. Hopefully, she isn’t or won’t get pregnant with his child since breaking that tie to him will be even less likely. At any rate, we all know Chris is not seen publicly by many as a “nice guy” so there won’t be much surprise, only tragic disappointment, when or if he strikes out at Rihanna or any other person.

  • Tonton Michel

    its safe to say there was nothing normal bout this relationship and this man had issues the question is what was it bout him that made him act this way, i suspect mental health issues and the nature of his career played big part.

  • binks

    As I said on the other article, I do believe that all angles should be looked at when discussing this situation because the fact is we still don’t know that much about their situation other than bits and pieces. I do think this was a sad and senseless tragedy that left two victims Miss Perkins and THEIR daughter. Every time I read something like this with murder/suicide I just think “graveyard love” which is dysfunctional in and of itself. I agree with those who said that dysfunctional relationships are becoming to normalize, the overlooking of mental illness in our communities is still prevalent, and the death of black women in this situation is swept under the rug. One thing that irked me about this situation is that everyone was talking about him and expressing lost over him (yeah I get he was a person too…) but what about Miss Perkins? Many more women like Miss Perkins are going to die, disappear, or suffer because we are focusing on the hindsight issues than them.

  • KitKat

    You covered it all. I cringe when I hear people describe their relationship as “we fight hard, and love hard” . That’s just their coded way of saying they love dysfunction.

  • KayKay

    Smh at both the gun control article and this clean up piece.

    Do better Clutch.

  • KitKat

    To add to what you said, I think we should normalize the idea that’s it’s okay to not be in a relationship, to learn to enjoy the company of yourself. Also to have standards, about what you want a relationship to look/feel like, and if someone doesn’t/can’t meet those standards, then move on in confidence that you will find someone who can.

  • CanV

    You should have way more like than what you do. That to me says that what you mentioned are issues we ladies don’t care to look at.

  • EST. 1986

    Or maybe some people didn’t feel the need to give it a thumbs up, CanV.

  • 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.

  • Kassssssi

    Geez, the people are brutal on this blog…”Too little, too late? Cleanup should have been done with more thought? Disappointed?” Smh…

    That’s why it’s called an opinion article.The writer has right to pitch it any way she sees fit…

  • 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.

  • MySister’sKeeper

    Just as commentators are allowed their opinions. Relax yourself!

  • __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?

  • __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?

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