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Javon Belcher's murder-suicide can teach us about silence

The tragedy this past week involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher's murder-suicide of himself and his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins has brought domestic violence to the national stage front and center.

In a much needed yet heartbreaking way, this may be the catalyst that spurs national attention on an often silent issue. Domestic violence is an issue that society frequently acknowledges exists, yet time and again pretends does not happen, especially in the realm of professional sports. There are no definitive studies proving a link to male dominated sports and domestic violence, but recent statistics do point to some frightening trends such as one-fifth of professional and collegiate athlete related arrests stemming from domestic violence in 2010.

Furthermore, while the victims can be of any gender and any age, it is often the women and children that suffer in silence most frequently. In fact, "according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly one-third of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner, and in most cases, authorities discover that the abuse began long before a fatal crime occurred."

Domestic violence also does not only affect those directly involved; it often has far reaching consequences on the relationships surrounding both victim and perpetrator. This is highlighted by Javon Belcher and Kasandra Perkin's three month old child, now suddenly an orphan, potentially being left to the care of family members. Not only does this create even greater hardship on those families, but now also creates for them issues surrounding who raises that child and who ultimately receives custody and possibly visitation rights. There is now a myriad of legal issues surrounding the future of their now orphaned daughter and their left behind family members' involvement in that child's life.

Domestic violence may be a silent killer, but it does not need to remain so. It may ultimately be the normal everyday couple arguments that we often shrug off that are the most likely to lead down the path of domestic violence. Don't be a victim, if you see or experience domestic violence, say something. Find the right resources to help you get out of these relationships. If you need legal assistance, there are family law attorneys ready to advise victims of their options and assist in finding the help and safety they need.

Source: espn.com, "End the silence about domestic violence," Jemele Hill, Dec. 3, 2012

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