Yeardley Love: Why Domestic Violence Is Serious
Many of you may have heard by now about the murder of Yeardley Love, a senior lacrosse player at the University of Virginia. Last Monday, Yeardley was found by one of her roommates in bed, face down and unresponsive. Police found blood on her pillow and reported that her face was bruised as a cause of 'blunt-force trauma.'
George Huguely, also a senior at the University of Virginia, and Yeardley's on-again-off-again boyfriend, was charged with killing Yeardley, and admitted to acting violently with her the night she died, stating that he "entered Ms. Love's unlocked apartment early Monday, kicked his foot through her bedroom door and forced his way in. He then 'shook Love, and her head repeatedly hit the wall'" (NY Times)
Of course, this is a tragedy. Yeardley Love was clearly a highly respected friend, student and athlete and no doubt a wonderful personal all around. She was also a victim of domestic violence.
I'm not going to claim to know more about this case and these people than I do. I'm not going to act like I'm sure Huguely murdered Love. I'm not going to go off about how Yeardley's friends and family must have seen the warning signs in Huguley's and Love's relationship and how they were irresponsible and partially culpable for this murder - the nature of Huguley's and Love's relationship is at best foggy in these reports and I have no idea if her friends and family had a better read on it. But it's Huguely's own admission that he was abusive, at least physically abusive that prompts me to label this case as related to domestic violence.
I can say, though, that if friends and family did know about this violence they should have spoken out. So often we look at domestic violence as something far less serious than it is. Even if Yeardley's murder was somehow not the result of domestic violence, there are thousands of women who have been murdered as the result of domestic violence- over 31,000 between 1976-1996 according to a 1998 survey by the U.S. Department of Justice.
I work with a teen dating violence awareness group here in the Cleveland area, and I've talked to countless teens who have either been in an abusive relationship or who have had a friend in an abusive relationship. I understand why the victims themselves have a hard time getting help (although it is vital that they do so), however I've never quite understood the reasons why their friends don't get help, especially once they're sure of the unhealthy nature of the relationship. When I ask them why they fail to act on behalf of their friends, the most common answer is, "Well I didn't want her to get mad at me and lose her friendship."
To which I would say maybe the loss of your friendship (which would likely be temporary, until she's received help) is worth saving her life. And even if the case isn't as drastic as impending homicide, even if it's verbal abuse (which of COURSE is still serious and incredibly harmful), helping your friend at the expense of your friendship is the true indicator that you care, and the right thing to do.
So, teens out there, take note and learn from Yeardley's death. After all, 1 out of every 5 female high school students reports (yeah, those are just the ones who actually report it) being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. Seriously, don't let this happen to you OR your friends.
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