Conflicting feelings common in friends of domestic violence aggressors

8:17 PM, Dec 3, 2012   |    comments
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(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(NEWS CENTER) -- When Jovan Belcher killed Kasandra Perkins and himself, she was not his only victim. There's of course their daughter, and the rest of their families, but also their friends, still struggling with the news.

Raibonne Charles, a friend of Belcher's who played with him at UMaine said, "Years from now it's still going to be hard for me to believe that this happened. It'll definitely be something that I'll never forget. It'll definitely sink in. "

Despite the murder-suicide, Charles considers Belcher to be a mentor, an inspiration even -- up to the point that he decided to take his girlfriend's life and his own. "He had such a drive and such willpower that we've never seen in anybody else. So when I think about Jovan Belcher, that's what I'm going to think about. "

Allegra Hirsh, a clinician at Community Counseling Center in Portland, says it is healthy for friends and loved ones to have positive thoughts about people who have done terrible things. They can even be both angry and sad for that person as part of the grieving process. "It's about looking at all of us as a sum of our parts and this act was a part of who this person was, but did not make up everything that he was," she said.

Charles says he understands why it's so hard for people who don't know Belcher to deny he has good qualities and label him a "murderer." He's heard that anger from his friends and teammates, too. "When I first heard it, I was crumbled. I was crushed. I was heartbroken. Still am. But I can't just discard everything that he did. "

Charles says to him, Jovan Belcher's death is a part of his life, but it does not define it. Others will see it differently.


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