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Belcher Murder/Suicide Highlights Domestic Violence Issues
An East Austin family breaks their silence after one of their own was killed in a high-profile murder/suicide in Kansas City this weekend. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed 22-year- old Kasandra Perkins this Saturday before turning the gun on himself.
Perkins was an Austin native and graduated from Anderson High School. In a statement released on Monday, her family said they are brokenhearted over the loss and asked for privacy.
While millions of people are still stunned over the shocking news, KEYE TV’s Katherine Stolp found out Perkins’ murder isn't unusual at all.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an average of three women are murdered by an intimate partner every day in the U.S. That means since Perkins’ murder, another nine women are potentially dead.
The majority of domestic violence shelters are at capacity, and nearly half of domestic abuse organizations report insufficient funding. Advocates for victims said they hope this case helps bring them much needed resources.
The number of domestic violence abuses continues to rise and with them, the number of homicides. By noon on Monday more than 300 people had called the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin. But another number stood out even more.
“Those are calls we have not been able to answer due to not having staffing capacity to answer those calls,” Katie Ray Jones, the President of the hotline said while pointing to the number 82.
Ray-Jones said the hotline is short by more than $2 million, for it to run at full capacity 24 hours, seven days a week. She told KEYE TV money has been cut at the state and federal levels.
“Making that first call is a courageous step and if we lose that opportunity, she may be discouraged to seek out help again,” Ray-Jones explained.
“Making this call can be so big for someone,” Rosemary, a hotline advocate added. “To know they're not alone and know there is someone there who believes them and understands what they're going through and wants to help.”
Rosemary has worked there for six years. She said she stays busy answering up to 50 calls per shift.
“Sometimes it takes something as tragic as this for people to even realize that things like this happen every day,” Rosemary said. “Not just to celebrities or NFL players and their wives, but to everyday people.”
Lawmakers, like U.S. Congressman Michael McCaul, have recently pledged to make sure funding streams for similar centers remain consistent across the state.
Advocates hope the tragic death of Perkins brings more awareness to the leading cause of injury to women: domestic violence.
The family of Kasandra told KEYE TV a private memorial will be held for her in Austin this week.
For ways to help anyone you know who may be in an abusive relationship, go thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-SAFE.
By Katherine Stolp