Like many people, when I heard the first reports about the murder-suicide in Kansas City involving Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and his longtime girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, I was struck by the utter horror of this senseless tragedy. You just shake your head and ask why would someone take the life of someone he loved and then turn the gun on himself? What life circumstances could have spiraled so horribly out of control?
Once again,the crime of domestic violence forced its way into the national consciousness, just as the Brookfield salon shootings had done a month earlier. The fact that the Kansas City case involved an NFL player only heightened the profile of the case, perhaps creating an even deeper sense of public disbelief.
But will it in any way lead to a better understanding of the cause and impact of this crime?
We tend to think of domestic violence as something that happens within the home between two people and that the problem is somehow limited to just those two people. These two recent tragedies are merely the latest painful reminders of how domestic violence can spill out into an entire community or an entire nation, impacting the lives of people who have no direct knowledge of what’s been going on as far as a domestic abuse-related history.
While society may never fully understand why domestic abuse occurs, we can use incidents such as these to remind us why verbal abuse and physical abuse must never be tolerated or ignored. There is always the very real danger that this type of abuse can lead to the ultimate price being paid, the loss of one or more human lives.
In Brookfield, it’s certainly great to see that the owners, staff and patrons of the Azana Salon-and-Spa are trying to get back to as normal a situation as possible after such a horrific tragedy. The fact that Azana has returned to business is to be commended. The tremendous outpouring of community support, both one-on-one and in a recent business community fundraising effort to benefit the victims’ families, is heartwarming.
Sadly, once all the news coverage runs its course and people get on with their lives, it’s easy to forget that the lives of those so deeply hurt by domestic violence are changed forever. There’s no going back. There’s no bringing back the loved ones who were lost.
Would tougher gun control laws have prevented these two tragedies? I’m not sure. True, guns were used in both cases. However, these murders could just as easily been committed with other weapons, even with bare hands. When one person has murderous intent, they will find a way.
The focus, in my opinion, needs to be on the undeniable fact that domestic violence is alive and well. It will affect not just the two immediate people involved in a particular domestic abuse case. It will go beyond their children, their families and their friends and have negative consequences in a community and even the entire country. The impact will last a lifetime.
If you or someone you know is involved in circumstances involving domestic abuse, there is plenty of help and support available. In Waukesha, contact The Women’s Center at:
Main number: 262.547.4600
24-Hour Crisis Line: 262.542.3828
Toll-Free Crisis Line: 888.542.3828
You can also visit their website at www.twcwaukesha.org