College Aged Dating Violence
The George Huguely trial is bringing up an issue a lot of young women are all too familiar with: dating violence. Witnesses have told the court they saw Huguely and Love get abusive with one another, and that testimony has opened the door to a conversation a lot of people would prefer to hide.
Experts will tell you, 1 in 4 women report having been in an abusive relationship in their life, and 1 in 3 high school and college aged girls report either being abused by a partner or having a friend in that situation. But a lot of them feel ashamed and never ask for help, and that is where the experts say the community can help.
Testimony in Charlottesville has revealed details of the struggle between George Huguely and Yeardley Love in May of 2010, and that was not the first time the on-again, off-again couple grew physical with one another. Witnesses say she once hit him with her purse. He once had her in a chokehold. It is testimony that begs the question, why doesn’t a woman in that kind of a situation ask for help?
Lea Calvani works with the Shelter for Help in Emergency, which caters to women who often face a complex battle.
Calvani stated, “Statistically it takes a woman 7 and a half to 12 times to leave her partner before she leaves for good. I think that one as a general community, I think we always have kind of the assumption well she should just leave the relationship and unfortunately it’s really not that simple.”
Calvani says when it comes to dating violence, a lot of young women she feel doubly trapped, first by the abuse, and second by a culture of blame.
Calvani stated, “Or I’ll talk to young girls who will say ‘oh no, I mean he punched me at my locker in school, and instead of, you know, people looking at him like there was a problem, they looked at me as if what’s my problem to let that happen.’”
Calvani says the key to stopping abuse in any relationship is a culture of awareness.
Calvani said, “Being familiar with the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Taking it seriously. Not always blaming the victim that she could just leave the relationship but really taking the abuse and the patterns of abuse and what they mean to the person very seriously.”
The Shelter for Help in Emergency primarily works with domestic violence cases, but is trying to work more with teens to end dating violence. They also work with children whose parents have an abusive relationship because those kids are statistically more prone to grow up and repeat the behavior in their adult lives.