by Rhonda Bishop
YWCA USA Advocacy Associate
As 2010 graduates are approaching their first full year out of undergrad, many have settled into post-undergrad careers all over the country—but there is one student whose vibrant potential was silenced last year.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of University of Virginia lacrosse athlete Yeardley Love’s murder. Her case made national headlines as it was difficult for many to comprehend how a beautiful, athletic student with an elite pedigree could have been a victim of domestic violence.
Often, images of domestic violence victims involve frantic women with babies on their hip–running for their lives from drunk, overweight husbands. Yet, domestic violence victims sit next to you in class; share your dorm space and run for student government.
It’s time that college campuses across the country acknowledge the elephant in the room—as universities are extremely reluctant to even recognize domestic violence occurrences on campus–often referring to them as “student on student” violence.
It’s a real issue. With real consequences.
It starts with us, as we have to be more observant, more courageous and more vocal about raising awareness of domestic violence in college campuses. Get active in your student government, strengthen your relationship with your R.A. (Resident Advisor) and make sure you understand the signs of domestic abuse. We cannot continue to perpetuate the excuses that we give domestic violence instances; alcohol, fear of intrusiveness or worse, pacifying couples as “passionate, explosive lovers” who simply love hard… and fight hard.
Several witnesses have come forward with new information on the volatile relationship between Yeardley and her accused murderer, George Huguely, but not a single person reported their concerns.
College graduation is an amazing accomplishment—turning that tassel signifies your growth, humility and strength as you embark on this world to make your mark.
Sadly, we will always wonder what ‘could-have’ been for Yeardley Love—as she never had the opportunity to turn her tassel; this promising graduate was buried a week before college graduation.
For more information on domestic violence, visit the National Dating Abuse Helpline, a service specifically designed for teens and young adults, at www.loveisrespect.org or toll-free at (866) 331-9474.