Kasandra Perkins, Domestic Violence, and the Senseless Search for a Reasonable Explanation

photo via Facebook

photo via Facebook

By Karen Roush, MS, RN, FNP-C, AJN clinical managing editor

Let’s call it what it was. Kasandra Perkins was murdered in a domestic violence attack. This was not about a football player who took one too many hits to the head. This was not about a good, loving family man who was driven to take this terrible action. This was not about someone who snapped from stress (would he get enough playing time? would he make enough money to pay for his expensive new car?).

This was about what domestic violence is always about: control, rage, and power. There is no mystery here—we don’t need to search for reasons why a good, loving family man would shoot someone he loved. Because they don’t. Violent men commit acts of violence.

This searching for a reasonable explanation distracts us from the truth. It bolsters myths and misconceptions. It creates the illusion that each domestic violence attack is a special case, not part of the fabric of our society. One in four women experience domestic violence. Over a thousand die every year. Do the math—Kasandra was one of at least three women we could expect to have been murdered in a domestic violence attack on Saturday. We didn’t read about the other two. We wouldn’t have read about Kasandra either if her murder weren’t at the hands of a professional football player.

Not that the coverage has had a great deal to do with Kasandra. Most news stories tell us little about her—not who she was, what she hoped to become, if she worked, went to school. Because she really doesn’t matter—the attention to this case has nothing to do with her. It’s all about Belcher. And what do we hear about Belcher? We hear about what a good man he was, his perfect teammate persona, his hard work to earn a place on the football team. We also hear a lot about the team. How will the Kansas City Chiefs navigate this public relations disaster? How will they help their players grieve while not seeming disrespectful? How will they win football games under such circumstances? Frankly—who cares? Yes, they have suffered a loss and each individual will have to deal with it in their own way. But where is the outrage for Kasandra?

It’s time to stop being shocked and incredulous that this could happen. Again and again and again. Domestic violence is senseless.  It is time to be angry. It is time to act. It is time to demand change in the societal and cultural norms that propagate it.

Nurses, there are things you can do. Screen everyone for domestic violence. Examine your beliefs about culpability, responsibility. Know what your community resources are. Treat abused women with respect and dignity. Speak up. Model behavior for your sons and daughters that empower them to be loving, strong, confident adults. Teach them to abhor violence in all its forms.

Many nurses have experienced domestic violence. I am one of them. We need to speak up. We need to end the stigma. I call on all survivors—when you are ready and it is safe to do so—speak up. The shame doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to the perpetrators and to society; give it back to them.

It is up to us to keep talking about Kasandra and all the women lost to domestic violence. Others may be talking about it this week, but they’ll move on too soon. Until the next time. Because women will continue to die. How many more before we finally say, “Enough”? And mean it.

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2016-11-21T13:08:47+00:00 December 6th, 2012|Nursing|6 Comments
Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. Tom Dolan December 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    The nurse who screens all female patients is missing a bet.
    There are many male victims of domestic abuse, and the abuser is not always – perhaps not usually – a wife or girl friend. My wife is a gentle, lovong woman whom I have no need to fear. My teenage son was another matter. Often domestic violence is committed by children, including girls and including adult children.
    Most middle-aged fathers are no match for sons over 16 .
    We need to consider primary prevention in domestic abuse which means changing our culture. Because I had heard a domestic violence counselor talk about this topic, when my son first
    became violent I immediately involved the police\, got a restraining
    order, and, in general, refused to volunteer to be a victim. My son is now clean and sober and has stopped making threats. At the fi\rst sign of relapse he will be out of our home and in jail. It does no one any good to tolerate violence, including him.

  2. Becky Lehr, LPN December 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I, too, am a survivor of domestic violence. Thank you for writing about the VICTIM & refocusing the story on what it SHOULD be about! I will pass this along to everyone I can.

  3. christine contillo RN December 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

    This is some of the best, upfront, no holds barred writing on domestic violence I’ve seen. We screen all our female patients, and I’ve sent this out to everyone I know and forced some of the men I know to read it! Bravo Karen. Keep it up!

  4. ninjanurse December 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Thank you for cutting through all the denial.

  5. Peggy McDaniel December 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Thank you for writing this! I am currently living in Australia and all I hear about is the football player and the stupid commentary around gun rights (whether control would help or not). I never had heard who he shot… how sad is that! I’m sure it was said but the focus has definitely been on the wrong person.

  6. Lynn Flom December 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you Karen for writing this article and bringing this issue out. Alot has been done in the last 30 yrs but more needs to be done about this horrible issue that occurs more than most people realize.

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