It started with a couple of dime store t-shirts.  It ended with me running half naked and bleeding from our apartment.

I hadn’t done it right, the laundry. His white undershirts were now pink, thanks to a red pair of shorts that got mixed up in the load.  I might have replaced them, scrounged up a few bucks to buy another 3-pack before he got home from work.  That was the plan anyway.  He met me at the front door. “Where are you off to, Princess?”

That’s what he called me then. Princess. An all too familiar fear washed over me.

“What’s in the bag?” he said, pulling my duffel from my shoulder. I braced myself as he unzipped the bag. His expression softened and, for a moment, I let myself breathe. Looking back now, I think maybe he thought I was leaving him. Maybe I should have been. He seemed relieved. He even smiled as he lifted a ruined shirt.

The first blow took me by surprise. There was another and another. If I close my eyes, I can still feel him kicking me in my side, the way my swollen lips stung. I remember being choked. Then there was darkness.

When I woke, he was smoking a cigarette. Newports. “You ain’t shit,” he said. “Can’t even wash your man’s clothes.”

“Get up. Go clean yourself up.”

I wiped the blood from my mouth and stared at the wall. The front door was a few paces away. The invitation to get up was an invitation to run. I knew I had to run. I got up slowly, then darted toward the door. I remember being led around by the neck, then dragged, tossed like a rag doll into our bedroom. I was all of 90 pounds back then, just under five feet tall. He was an easy 215 and hovered around six feet.

I grabbed an old push button telephone and hit him in the face. He let out grunt, as I wiggled my way past him. I felt a sting, then a burning in my left shoulder. A dull throbbing gave way to the most intense pain I’ve ever felt. I screamed. The roar of my own voice filled my ears.

My clothes torn, half naked and bleeding I kept running.  I scrambled out of the building and into the next, where I banged on a neighbor’s door.

“Please help me. I’ve been stabbed.”

There was a blanket, safety, then an ambulance. I knew that if I did not fight, if I had stayed in that house that night, I was going to die. Later that night, I suffered a miscarriage. I didn’t even know that I was pregnant.

I do not know what Kassandra “Kasi” Perkins went through. She is not here to tell her story. Family and friends say her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher had become “strained” after the birth of their child, and describe a “fraught relationship.” A brief separation, then a Thanksgiving reconciliation.  Others say he was upset that she had gone to a concert with friends the evening before. We will never know.

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