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What about Kasandra?

Julianne Malveaux | 12/12/2012, 5 p.m.

By now, it's old news that Kasandra Perkins was murdered by Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher, her boyfriend and the father of her daughter. By now we've read about how great a teammate Belcher was, how dedicated to his girlfriend and daughter. We've read his hardscrabble story of moving from the University of Maine, hardly a football powerhouse, to a coveted slot in the NFL.

Belcher has been humanized, even enshrined as his friends have talked about him not having a violent bone in his body.

What about Kasandra? It has been disturbing that the news focused mostly on Jovan (yes, I know, he was the famous one), with a focus on Kasandra only later in the week. Her friends said they did not want her life to be overshadowed by the sympathetic coverage of Jovan.

While Jovan Belcher was clearly a troubled man, the bottom line is that Jovan Belcher murdered Kasandra Perkins. Not just shot her, he murdered her. And then he killed himself.

Yes, this is a tragedy, but it is also a murder, so let's not use euphemisms, let's just call it what it is. The news reports that Belcher was angry because Kasandra Perkins went to a concert and came home at about 1 o'clock in the morning. But another report says that he was parked outside some other woman's house in the middle of the night. Go figure.

What do we know about Kasandra Perkins? The 22-year-old woman from Texas aspired to be a teacher and was studying at a local community college. She had a 3-month-old child, Zoey. She made friends easily and worked with other wives and girlfriends of Chiefs players. She enjoyed going out with friends. There is probably lots more to her story, but it has been scantily reported.

Nobody knows what goes on in a relationship except those who are in it. So it is also disturbing to see Belcher's friends take to the media to describe the relationship as troubled and to suggest that Kasandra is at fault for her own murder. According to some, she provoked her own murder by staying out late at night. Guess what? Belcher's mother was caring for their infant. Sounds like a control issue to me.

Too often, men beat and even kill women when they step outside their sphere of control. Women are beaten or killed because they didn't cook dinner, because they raised their voice, because they chose to spend time with friends or family, because ... because. This violence does not know race, class or gender, although different groups have different levels of violence. While 1.5 million women experience domestic violence annually, African American women are 35 percent more likely than White women to be battered.

Without mentioning names, the Kansas City Chiefs called for a moment of silence for victims of domestic violence during the game that Jovan Belcher did not play. With football, they did not have the grace to mention Kasandra Perkins by name. It would have made a difference if they had. Despite the fact that Belcher was a member of the KC team, there is a villain and a victim in this incident.