Jovan Belcher was a murderer. He shot and killed his girlfriend and mother of his child, Kassandra Perkins. In the days since the murder, and Belcher's subsequent suicide, there has been a throbbing hum of stupid regarding the whys and wherefores of domestic violence, guns and the NFL. I have some knowledge of the subject. One of the child abuse/neglect allegations my agency investigates is Risk due to ongoing domestic violence in the home.
First, for those who are looking for simple answers as to why this happened, stop.
There are no simple answers. A combination of mental illness, and easy access to guns? Maybe. A man hell bent on controlling his woman even if it meant ending her life? Perhaps. Early onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and alcohol abuse? Could be.
You see all of these factors could have made a man a murderer, but not all will be discussed. Media rarely discusses domestic violence. I want to discuss the people hell bent on controlling women. These are the guys we commonly call batterers, domestic abusers etc. And yes I am using the pejorative 'guys' because almost all batterers are men. In 20 years I've investigated maybe 15 women who battered their husbands in front of the kids. Out of around 3000 or so reports.
What Belcher did was domestic violence taken to its ultimate end. I had a twitter fight on Saturday with someone trying to say it wasn't DV. By definition, killing your lover is domestic violence. Period. We will never know if Belcher battered Kassandra before Saturday, it just doesn't matter. What matters is that a man who was mad at his girlfriend, murdered her when he couldn't keep her in her place.
That's what domestic violence is. Domestic abusers want to keep their women in their place. They do so with physical assaults, sexual assaults, finances, using the children as pawns. Much like rape is about power and control, so too is domestic violence.
A short disclaimer, when I first started my job and thought I knew it all, my default positions were either "what did she do?" or "why won't she leave?' I've learned a lot about the cycle of abuse and I know longer look at things that way.
Women don't have to "do" anything to get battered. Batterers will find any excuse. The "she had it coming" mentality that a shocking number of people have is truly unfathomable to me. Nobody has it coming. Nobody.
So many women who are victims of abuse can't leave the abuser because of finances, threats that things will be worse, or threats made to the children. Many women I have interviewed really love their partner, think he will get better, think that "this will be the last time".
Some women do walk away, but even then they need support and counsel to help them get their lives back together, and to help them continue to make good choices.
Jovan Belcher was a murderer. I have no idea what the NFL is going to do regarding Belcher. I do hope the league and the Chiefs put Belcher's remaining contract $ in a trust for his daughter.
Whatever is done by the league, here's what we can do as a society. We can stop looking down on women as inferior. We can stop blaming and slut shaming women for choices they make. We can make sure our daughters are treated respectfully.
Most of all when a man murders his girlfriend, we can stop pretending it was something other than domestic violence.