Monday, May 17, 2010

Yeardley Love's death: domestic violence will always be around?

George Huguely V and Yeardley Love.

Two weeks ago today the news of Yeardley Love's death shattered the University of Virginia campus and, as further details emerged of the brutal way in which she died, many began to talk about domestic violence and the need to do something about it.

It is easy to wonder how such a beautiful young lady as Ms. Love, 22, could be caught up in a controlling relationship with her former boyfriend, George Huguely V, 22. They were the children of wealthy families ... their lives were not supposed to end like this.

Huguely has been charged with the murder of Ms. Love after she was found by her roommate with her head bashed, reportedly after being beaten against the wall by Huguely. She was found dead by police on her bed face down in a pool of blood. Stories have since revealed Huguely to be a young man full of anger who had previous encounters with police.

Sadly, domestic violence will probably always be with us. Thirty years ago when I was the age of Ms. Love, domestic violence became more public as women stepped out from behind closed doors to find themselves in a community of others suffering the same abuse.

Shelters for battered women and children began setting up throughout the nation. In 1984, Farrah Fawcett starred in a TV movie called "The Burning Bed" about a woman so abused by her husband that she eventually set fire to his bed. Women were educated about men who dominated them and took away their self esteem.

Even the University of Virginia set up a Women's Center to help young women students. Though there is no indication that Yeardley Love sought their help, the website features a memorial to her and a reminder of what they offer. Of particular note is their Red Flag Campaign that was begun in 1996 encouraging young women to recognize signs of physical, emotional, mental abuse, and isolation:
Emotional Abuse
Excessive Jealousy
Sexual Assault
Stalking (victim)
Stalking (perpetrator)
Healthy Relationship vs. Dating Violence
Dr. Dale Archer, a Fox News commentator, writes that Ms. Love's death is a wake-up call to domestic violence but, as we see, those wake-up calls have been out there. Sometimes those directly involved in the violence are the last to recognize the signs.

As even more details come out about Huguely, the UVA women's lacrosse team moves on even as they remember their fallen teammate, winning the first game in the NCAA tournament that began last weekend. The UVA men's lacrosse team continues defending their #1 status ... students are completing exams as seniors prepare to graduate this Sunday ... and the Class of 2010 will be minus two students as George Huguely continues to sit in a Charlottesville jail and Yeardley Love has been laid to rest by those who loved her.

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