Kasandra’s Murder Highlights Popular Misconception:
Traumatic Brain Injury Does Not Cause Domestic Violence
Earlier this week, Kasandra Perkins was murdered by her partner, Jovan Belcher. Among many biographical facts about Jovan is that he was a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. Indeed, thousands of women are murdered annually in the United States by their intimate partners, implicating all ethnicities, vocations, and socioeconomic levels. We don’t know why Jovan Belcher murdered Kasandra Perkins, but many people in the media have speculated as to whether or not a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from successive football-related concussions caused Jovan to murder Kasandra.
A TBI is a traumatically-induced disruption of brain function or disturbance of consciousness, resulting in impairment of cognitive, emotional, and physical functioning. Millions of people in the United States have sustained TBIs, ranging from combat veterans to victims of motor vehicle accidents to football players. TBI symptoms may include problems with impulse control as well as aggressive, and sometimes violent, behavior. TBI-related aggressive behavior can occur anytime and be directed toward anyone. Notably, TBI-related aggression is not confined to intimate partners.
We do not know the details of Kasandra and Jovan’s relationship, but we know enough about Jovan to suspect that he might have been emotionally abusive and controlling in his relationships with women, including Kasandra. During college, he punched through a dorm window, nearly severing his thumb and sustaining wrist lacerations, because a woman with whom he was romantically involved, had upset him, according to a University of Maine Police Department incident report. In a separate incident, University Police were contacted by a third party concerned about “raised voices.” In that incident, Belcher was upset because a girlfriend had not called him at a designated time. It is rumored that Belcher’s fight with Kasandra began when she returned home late from a concert where he suspected she was with other men. Jovan and Kasandra had separated earlier this year and had just gotten back together. The police had been to their residence previously. Kansas City Chiefs’ officials knew about the problems in Jovan and Kasandra’s relationship, and the two had been in counseling.
A significant point overlooked in the mainstream media discussion regarding Jovan’s murder of Kasandra is that while Belcher may have had a TBI, TBIs do not cause coercive controlling behavior in intimate relationships. It is true that the presence of co-occurring conditions such as TBI, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance abuse increases the likelihood of lethality in violent and controlling relationships; however, this is vastly different from drawing a direct causal relationship between TBI and violent controlling behavior in a relationship. Few will disagree that the facts to date detailing the nature of Jovan’s murder of Kasandra – shooting her nine times in a fit of violent rage, kissing her corpse, and then committing suicide – is much more strongly associated with battering-related homicides and not TBI.
Military Advocacy Program Coordinator
Battered Women’s Justice Project
By Tracy Seipel
As they gather Friday for the 19th annual Santa Clara County Domestic Violence Council Conference, hundreds of participants — from domestic violence shelters to law enforcement agencies, from judges to doctors — might be surprised to learn that their well-meaning efforts over the years were critically hampered by a lack of coordination and accountability from some of the very county officials who support their efforts.
A recent state audit revealed that $715,000 in state-mandated funds collected by the county since 1995 and meant to be distributed to local domestic violence shelters sat in an account virtually forgotten by officials until the oversight was accidentally discovered in 2010. It wasn’t until earlier this year that the money was ultimately distributed to shelters.
“I’m still inflamed — I’m still so angry not knowing this money was sitting there,” said Kathleen Krenek, executive director of Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, the county’s largest shelter for battered victims. She said that money could have been spent to prevent layoffs, to pay for rent or supplies — even toilet paper — to help keep the program going.
“The lesson here is: Don’t trust things on the surface,” Krenek said. “And let’s make sure to put in safety mechanisms to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
But according to the state audit — which reviewed 135 domestic violence cases in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and Santa Clara counties — these kinds of oversight problems are happening throughout California and without further clarification by the state Legislature, counties and courts may continue to misdirect domestic violence funds.
“More than anything, the audit speaks to the need to clarify with counties what the statute actually says, and the need to create a way to document whether or not courts are actually collecting the fees and if they are not, why not,” said Camille Hayes, a spokeswoman for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, a Sacramento-based nonprofit that works with almost 100 service providers around the state to prevent domestic violence.
County Executive Jeff Smith said the county has since moved the monitoring and oversight of the fund to the Office of Women’s Policy, which is regularly in touch with domestic violence shelters, to ensure “this will never happen again.”
“It’s not uncommon that when you have funds that are paid by programs that cross departments that there’s confusion about how they should be spent,” said Smith, adding that no money was “diverted inappropriately.”
Still, he acknowledged, “we don’t like the fact that this happened, and we are unhappy with the delay.” He emphasized the money has been distributed to the shelters to provide important services.
The state audit focused on a November 1994 state law called the Domestic Violence Probation Fee, which requires anyone convicted of domestic violence crimes and sentenced to probation make a minimum payment of $400 as one of many terms and conditions of their probation. (The amount was just increased to $500 by Gov. Jerry Brown.)
When the law took effect in 1995, Santa Clara County officials said those fines were being collected and some were being distributed by the county’s Social Services Department.
By 2004-05, according to the audit, the county’s Probation Department became aware of the money, and sought authority over the funds. It asked the county counsel’s office if the money could be used to pay for a domestic violence advocate, which was allowed that year, as well as from 2007-11, for a total cost of $209,000 over five years.
But the audit said the funds were not supposed to be used for that purpose, which was meant solely for local shelters who could use the money for anything they wished.
Krenek said the county’s four domestic violence shelters believed they were receiving the “probationer fees” all along — about $200,000 annually — but then noticed a drastic drop to about $50,000 annually in recent years. She said they were told the number of domestic violence cases had fallen and that many probationers, because of the economy, could not afford to pay their fines.
Coincidentally, Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. had requested an audit of all county special funds in 2010, and when the list revealed the $715,000 that had been held in a special fund for domestic violence shelters, Krenek and others were alerted and asked the county for an explanation.
Now that the mistake has been addressed by the county, the shelter leaders say they’ve heard from others around the state facing similar problems.
“What happened was an injustice,” said Cynthia Hunter, director of the Domestic Violence Advocacy Consortium of Santa Clara County. “It may not be a lot of money to the county, but it certainly was to us.”
The audit can be read at www.auditor.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2011-121.pdf.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEXT DOOR SOLUTIONS TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PARTNERS WITH THE LOS GATOS/MONTE SERENO POLICE DEPARTMENT TO PROVIDE JOINT SERVICES TO RESIDENTS OF LOS
SAN JOSE, January 16, 2012 – Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence has been awarded $125,000 by the California Emergency Management Agency to work with the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Department to provide joint services to victims of domestic violence in Los Gatos and Monte Sereno. Next Door was one of four domestic violence agencies statewide chosen to lead this innovative partnership between a domestic violence agency and a police department.
The joint project plans to train 48 law enforcement and 911 dispatchers to implement safe protocols for victims that also increase accountability of batterers. The joint partnership includes home visits by a fully trained domestic violence advocate for every time police officers are called to a domestic violence incident in their jurisdiction so that victims have immediate options that are safe for her and her children. The partnership expects to reach more than 70 individuals impacted by domestic violence per year, having already started the partnership in December of 2011.
“We are grateful to the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Department for working on the cutting edge of domestic violence services with us,” said Kathleen Krenek, Next Door’s Executive Director. “This collaboration ultimately helps survivors of domestic violence obtain the customized services they need in order to make safe decisions for themselves and adds to the continuum of services that we provide in Los Gatos, including Next Door’s Los Gatos Support Group.”
“The Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Department is thrilled to partner with Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence on this very important initiative,” said Captain Alana Forrest. “We have a long standing and excellent relationship with Next Door and are looking forward to enhancing our response to victims of domestic violence in our community.”
About Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence
Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence began in 1971 out of the garage of a local San Jose women’s rights activist. Since then, Next Door has become the premier agency addressing the needs of victims of domestic violence and their children. Next Door seeks to end domestic violence in the moment and for all time by addressing all sides of the issue by helping victims to rebuild their lives, building resilience in children who are exposed to DV, and advocating for responsible policy change. To achieve its goals, Next Door provides innovative prevention and intervention services to diverse ethnic and low-income families in Santa Clara County (SCC), California, the majority of which come from San Jose. To learn more about Next Door’s programs, please visit www.nextdoor.org or call its Community Office at (408) 501-7550.
About The Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Department
The Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Department is comprised of 64 sworn and civilian personnel and over 150 community volunteers, committed to providing the highest quality service with a small town feel to its residents, businesses and visitors. It works in three major areas to improve the department and its ability to serve the community by 1) building highly competent and professional police department providing traditional law enforcement services; 2) Building community relationships; and 3) Engaging in community problem solving. To learn more about the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Department, visit us at 110 East Main Street, Los Gatos, CA 95030 or go online to http://www.losgatosca.gov/index.aspx?NID=127. You can also call us at 408-354-8600.
Click here for a copy of this press release.
For more information contact: For more information contact:
Next Door Solutions Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Department
Lisa Breen Strickland, Interim Development Dir. Sgt. Michael D’Antonio, Investigation Spvsr
(408) 655-3642 (408) 827-3209
NEXT DOOR SOLUTIONS TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RECEIVES $20,000 AS PART OF $3 MILLION NATIONWIDE GRANT FROM THE MARY KAY FOUNDATION TO COMBAT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN SAN JOSE AND SANTA CLARA COUNTY
Mary Kay shelter grant program to help many of the 61,000 domestic violence survivors
assisted each day in the United States
SAN JOSE, October 10, 2011 – Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence has been chosen to receive a $20,000 grant from The Mary Kay Foundation as part of the organization’s annual $3 million national domestic violence grant program. Next Door is one of 150 domestic violence organizations participating in the program. The grant will be used to provide more than 240 women and children with vital 24-hour shelter, safety planning, and direct services that will help cultivate immediate and long-term safety.
“Domestic violence programs are in greater need than ever before,” said Kathleen Krenek, Executive Director of Next Door. “Battered women need jobs more than ever before and as before, the Mary Kay Ash Foundation and corporation came to our rescue. The $20,000 grant helps to keep our doors open and for battered women, employment opportunities to meet their individual needs continue to exist. We thank the foundation and corporation for your visionary approach to business and philanthropy.”
Domestic Violence Outlook
According to the second “Mary Kay Truth About Abuse” national survey conducted in March 2011, domestic violence shelters indicate the economic downturn has increased demand for services. Shelters also report, the ability to raise funds and provide services will be hampered into 2012. Due to the economy, the survey also revealed:
- 80 percent of domestic violence shelters nationwide (more than three out of four) report an increase in women seeking assistance from abuse, and most attribute this to financial issues.
- 76 percent of domestic violence shelters (three out of four) indicate their funding has decreased.
- 65 percent of women in shelters can’t find employment due to the economy.
- 56 percent of shelters note the abuse is more violent now than before the economic downturn.
“In light of the economic downturn and alarming increases in domestic violence, The Mary Kay Foundation’s mission is more critical than ever before. Next Door has helped so many women and their families in the San Jose and greater Santa Clara County area. We know they will use these funds to benefit even more domestic violence survivors and their children and help end domestic violence,” said Jennifer Cook, The Mary Kay Foundation board member.
About Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence
Next Door began in 1971 out of the garage of a local San Jose women’s rights activist. Since then, Next Door has become the premier agency addressing the needs of victims of domestic violence and their children. Next Door seeks to end domestic violence in the moment and for all time by addressing all sides of the issue by helping victims to rebuild their lives, building resilience in children who are exposed to DV, and advocating for responsible policy change. To achieve its goals, Next Door provides innovative prevention and intervention services to diverse ethnic and low-income families in Santa Clara County (SCC), California, the majority of which come from San Jose.
About The Mary Kay Foundation
The Mary Kay Foundation was created in 1996, and its mission is two-fold: to fund research of cancers affecting women and to help prevent domestic violence while raising awareness of the issue. Since the Foundation’s inception, it has awarded $28 million to shelters and programs addressing domestic violence prevention and more than $16 million to cancer researchers and related causes throughout the United States. To learn more about The Mary Kay Foundation, log on to www.marykayfoundation.org or call 1-877-MKCARES (652-2737).
Alvin Winford, an experienced community leader from Brewerville, Liberia will contribute to the local community through a four-month fellowship funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Mr. Winford will apply a global lens to issues facing Santa Clara County through practical work experience at Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence while gaining transferable leadership and management skills that he will later apply in his own communities.
The Community Solutions Program, which places sixty-four global leaders in 27 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, is one-of-a-kind. Through hands-on collaboration, 57 organizations will provide their leaders with community development experience in the U.S. in one of four topic areas: tolerance/conflict resolution, women’s issues, environmental issues, and transparency and accountability. Community leaders will volunteer their time and perspectives to finding innovative solutions to local challenges.
Alvin Winford comes to San Jose with over 9 years of experience working on community development initiatives, specifically focusing on issues related to women and children. In Liberia, Alvin was the program manager at the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect where he worked to mitigate gender-based violence in local communities. Most recently, he has spearheaded a project that has helped increase the capacity of local police forces to respond to gender-based violence. At Next Door, Alvin will continue his work to alleviate violence against women by acting as a full-time advocate in order to assess program impacts on Next Door’s clients.
In addition to working at Next Door, Alvin will participate in an online Community Leadership institute, a web-based leadership course developed by IREX that focuses on key leadership and organizational management skills. Alvin will leave the U.S. not only with skills and strong connections to his colleagues at Next Door, but also with a strong global network that will strengthen his community engagement.
At the end of Alvin’s time in the United States, he will create a plan for a new initiative in Liberian communities and spend six months implementing that project. Continued collaboration with Next Door Solutions ensures that the learning continues, even after his return to his home country.
All of us at Next Door feel honored and privileged to be working with Alvin and look forward to the upcoming months!
As high school and college students begin to enter into the classroom this school year, Vice President Joe Biden is spearheading an online campaign to get those young people involved in ending domestic violence against women which continues to occur on school campuses as an alarming rate.
The Vice President is no stranger to using social media. Earlier this July, his first official tweet was dedicated to promoting his campaign to end violence against women. He promoted the Twitter hashtag #1is2many as a way for individuals to share ideas for making school campuses safer for women. Biden has also helped launch a campaign called “Apps Against Abuse” which challenges web and app designers to create an interactive software application that will empower young people, in real time, to look out for their friends in order to prevent violence or assault before it occurs.
“One in five young women will be a victim of sexual assault while they’re at college, 1 in 10 teens will be hurt on purpose by someone they are dating, and 1 in 9 teen girls will be forced to have sex,” Biden states. “You don’t know these women as statistics. You know them as friends, as sisters.”
“There’s no such thing as an innocent bystander when it comes to the abuse of a woman,” Biden says. “If you know of it, or you see it, you have an absolute obligation to try and stop it.”
The Vice President also has a message for men and boys, delivering what he says is a “very simple rule.”
“No means no. No means no if she’s drunk or sober. No means no if she’s on the dorm room or the street. No means no even if she said yes first and changed her mind. No means no, no matter what. I’m asking all of you, all of you to help get this message out.”
Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence is Santa Clara County’s oldest and most comprehensive provider of services to victims of abuse. When victims need a safe person to talk to, our hotline is open 24/7. When abused moms and their children need a safe place to stay, a bed is waiting for them at our shelter.
Next Door’s continuum of services gives domestic violence victims choices in rebuilding their lives… and YOU can play a part providing essential services to one of our most vulnerable populations.
Join staff and supporters of Next Door on Thursday September 22 at Pasta Pomodoro as we spread awareness of domestic violence in our community while enjoying a fantastic meal. Pasta Pomodoro is located at 378 Santana Row in San Jose.
All you have to do is click on this link, print out the flyer, and turn it in with your bill. Pasta Pomodoro will take care of the rest by donating 20% of your bill to Next Door!
Thank you for supporting Next Door and we can’t wait to see you there!
By Kathleen Krenek
Special to the Mercury News
We often hear stories about senseless violence and express disbelief. For some, it’s because it forces them to acknowledge that there is nothing they can do about it. In trying to understand the Daou murder-suicide case, however, it is important to note the devil is in the details.
The crime, horrific and shocking as it was, took place because Ed Daou was a batterer who abused his wife and then used their children to further abuse his wife. In contrast to other senseless violence, these details are concrete. And there is actually something we can do about it.
Ed Daou, an affluent developer in Los Gatos, was a successful businessman. He was “aggressive” in business. He was a “caring father.” Ed Daou also abused his wife, Carmen, so much that she had to leave him, leave her home and obtain a protective restraining order, which revealed a man so obsessed with controlling her that he would go to any means to do so.
Domestic violence victim advocates can tell you story after story about fathers who use their own children as pawns to abuse their victims, creating family rifts that position the mother as inferior and the father as the good guy.
Consider this example: An abuser hits his wife when the children aren’t around, then turns into the “fun” parent when the children are around. The victim, their mother, is frazzled, anxious and stressed out. The children see their father in a good mood, then see their mother: stressed out,annoyed and scared. Then their father says, “Hey let’s go to the movies.” The mother doesn’t want to go, spoiling their family fun. In the eyes of the kids, the father is the good guy.
The abuser deliberately creates this contrast. He knows what he is doing. He is not being unreasonable, but calculating, manipulative, intentional. This is typical in a family affected by domestic violence — the abuser manipulates, controls and denies accountability. The abuser also gets deadly when his victim leaves.
It is a fact that the risk of death increases when a victim tries to separate from her abuser. Time and time again, abusers use all means necessary to continue to abuse, harass and assault their victims. Carmen Daou, in the record of her restraining order, expressed fear that her abuser would use her children to get back at her. Fathers use their own sons to abuse their victims. And fathers kill their own sons to hurt their victims in the most painful way possible.
An aggressive businessman, a caring father, a batterer. Ed Daou chose the latter as his legacy. But why was he so consumed that he chose to take his own son’s life and then his own? Why are batterers so insecure that they refuse to live if they can’t have their way? The answers to these and other questions are not easily found, but they must be sought, they must be discussed, and they must be understood. If we do not confront them, and if we accept the erroneous notion that domestic violence is something that happens between two people, then it will happen again and again.
If we accept that domestic violence is a community issue, that we should talk about it in our classrooms, in our homes, with our children and our family and friends, then I’m hopeful that we can prevent more fathers from killing their sons.
One way to start the conversation is by calling Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence. Our hot line number is 408-279-2962. Ask us how you can help to stop the violence before it starts.
Friday February 11, 2011
Yesterday marked a day unlike any other for the family and friends of Jennifer Schipsi who was cut down in the prime of her life by Bulos “Paul” Zumot October 15, 2009. Yesterday the jury in Zumot’s trial came back with a verdict of Murder in the First Degree and Arson. It was bittersweet. As Jennifer’s aunt Dee Towner said “Jennifer still won’t wake up tomorrow.” However because a jury of his peers confirmed what family and friends already knew, it was also validating.
I rarely use the word evil but that is the only term that came to mind as we all discovered his diabolic plot to end the life of someone who got in his way. Paul testified. His testimony left me chilled. Although his attempts at cover up were futile, watching him justify and minimize his abuse and at times try to convince the jury that Jennifer never minded his name calling, obsessive contacts and threats was insightful. He is truly a batterer in all the ways we have learned batterers behave.
Over the course of the past 16 months I watched as an imperfect system with many disparate parts and rigid legal standards searched to find justice for an unjust act. A judge, a team of prosecutors and defense attorneys, witnesses for both sides and a jury of Paul’s peers intensely played out their roles without pause. The process was ugly and painful but in the end justice won out. The jury took their role very seriously. I commend them for their due diligence. The judge was knowledgeable and respectful.
Charles Gillingham, an incredibly skillful prosecutor led the jury on the difficult and tedious journey into the mind of a person who plotted out an unthinkable and horrific act against the person he purported to love. Deputy DA (DDA) Gillingham spent more than 16 months piecing together Paul Zumot’s thoughts, intentions and actions before, during and after he murdered Jennifer Schipsi. DDA Gillingham was brilliant. His closing remarks to the jury were filled with facts and feelings. It was easy to see that he was invested in this case. He spoke for Jennifer as no one else could. Jennifer believed Paul would kill her. Now the world knows he did. Jennifer can rest in peace now. Paul Zumot will not hurt another woman. He will spend his days knowing he didn’t get away with murder.
Unfortunately the slight reprieve did not last long. Opening this morning’s paper I read that a woman was stabbed to death and another strangled. More than likely, the perpetrators were their current or former partners. When, as a community, do we say enough? We can’t keep losing women to unspeakable acts of terrorism. When will we understand that this form of terrorism is as destructive for society as national and international terrorism? We urgently need answers as a community and nation. We can’t wait any longer.
Next Door Solutions has received a $9,000 grant from the Mission City Community Fund which will be used to support victims of domestic violence in Santa Clara County and will assist Next Door in ending domestic violence in the moment and for all time.
Mission City Community Fund is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that aims to support non-profit organizations in Silicon Valley that are doing their part to enrich the lives of community residents. In response to shrinking Federal financial support for much needed community programs, a group of concerned Santa Clara citizens formed the Fund in order to increase the quality of life for community residents. Over the years, MCCF has supported hundreds of nonprofit organizations throughout Silicon Valley and Next Door Solutions is pleased to have our names on that list.
Next Door Solutions thanks Mission City Community Fund for their recognition of Next Door and applauds their commitment to supporting victims of domestic violence in our community!
Elisabeth Copper, Development and Marketing Associate
Joshua Krammes, Fund Development Director
Lisa Gillmor, Board Member of MCCF
John Latham, Board Member, Fund Dev. Committee Chair
Chris Boyd, Board Member of MCCF
Jono Marcus, Development and Communications Manager
Becky Black (Santa Hat), Development Associate
Marianne Adoradio, Board Member
Kathleen Krenek, Executive Director