Kasandra Perkins Deserves Better

In light of the murder of Kasandra Perkins at the hands of her boyfriend, Kansas City pro football player Jovan Belcher, I am reminded of my own experience with domestic violence, which nearly ended my life 22 years ago. Much of the early breaking news in this story focuses on Belcher and how disturbing it must have been for the team to play on Sunday–focused on the athlete’s celebrity instead of the 22-year-old victim’s loss of life and their 3-month-old infant Zoey’s loss of her parents. In headlines such as “Chiefs Jovan Belcher Kills Girlfriend, Self,” Perkins is denied a name–and an identity–for our collective empathy.

While the National Institute of Justice states that “intimate partner homicide” has declined since 1987, statistics also show that gender is a huge factor in heterosexual domestic violence. According to the Bureau of Justice, one-third of female murder victims are killed by someone with whom they were sexually involved. This and other staggering data–such as the statistic that one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime–bear repeating and review.

Clearly Belcher was troubled, for whatever reason–and that will be detailed in forthcoming media analysis, but hopefully Kasandra Perkins is not forgotten in the process. She had a life of goals, dreams and a future cut brutally short. Friends say she wanted to be a teacher. We know he was a famous football player, but who was she?

With the help of local law enforcement, a one-month stay at a women’s shelter and a network of supportive friends, I was lucky to escape my abuser before he could choke the life from me for a second and perhaps final time. I still had stories to write, people to love and a whole world to see. I’m grateful for every day above ground, and although it is uncomfortable to speak about this period of my life at times, I vow to give a voice to the voiceless, whenever I am able. Perkins and others who have lost their lives at the hands of supposed loved ones deserve it.

Photo from Facebook


  1. Very well said, and I couldn’t agree with you more.

  2. I don’t hold it against news outlets that didn’t use Kasandra Perkins’ name in headlines on this terrible story. She was not a public figure, and it’s not common for the names of people who are not public figures to appear in headlines, even when they meet an end such as this. Her relationship to the public figure who killed her is the newsworthy angle, and it is for this reason that she is referred to in the headlines as the “girlfriend of” this named person.

    However, I do have a problem with news outlets that downplayed or nearly ignored the domestic violence/homicide aspect of the story. The stories that focused on Belcher and what those who knew him had to say about him–many praising him to the skies–while fairly ignoring what he did before killing himself were examples of irresponsible reporting that focused on the celebrity at the expense of his victim.

    Even more irresponsible was the outlet (Deadspin) that chose to present excerpts of emails submitted by an individual closer to the situation that suggested Perkins might in some way be a “catalyst” for what happened as a result of her recent behavior or plans. This kind of one-sided hearsay has no place in journalism.

  3. Yes, I too am a survivor of almost 20 years of abuse. We are so blessed to have survived when we see how many are not…I did not know who I was when I escaped from my abuser…it was my counselor who pointed out to me that I never spoke about myself, even though she was asking me to tell about myself. I had no identity for myself and when introduced to anyone, I would say I’m ‘his’ wife…not my name. This is yet another case of an out of control abuser, who didn’t get the proper help for himself and who thought ownership of his victim was his right…even down to taking her life. A lot more has to be done to stop this from happening to others.

  4. Great post! I totally agree with you on everything.

  5. Rockerbabe says:

    The fact that the media is so obsessed with this male football player, tells you the state of our media and its interest. Ms. Perkins was just another young woman involved with a violent man; she is just another throw-away and the media continues to treat women in general in this manner. I hope the women of KC make their disapproval known to all of the professional sports teams and the local media. The handling of Ms. Perkins’ murder was shameful.

  6. Shawna, I’m so glad the shelter and other folks helped you! Thank you for being brave and telling us what happened to you.

    I agree with your analysis. Jovan Belcher is being mourned for his pain and suicide instead of being held accountable for the murder and pain he inflicted.

    Articles like yours will turn the conversation into a positive one. Articles like yours help bring about the day when people like Jovan Belcher and your abuser are held accountable – where indeed, their violence is not permitted.

  7. Thank you for writing this! When this tragic story broke last Sunday, I quickly turned on the TV to follow the story! Much to my dismay, I only seen football games and football related talk shows. What infuriated me the most was the lack of acknowledgement of Kasandra’s murder! It was business as usually in the NFL! It broke my heart.

  8. The real issue is that she wasn’t really that attractive. Quid pro quo did not exist.

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