By Ann Rose Greenberg, JWI Marketing Coordinator
As we near the end of the second week of George Huguely’s trial for the murder of his former girlfriend Yeardley Love, the tragic reality of dating violence is on the national stage, and we are once again reminded of the importance of speaking out.
Story after horrifying story is coming out about the troubling warning signs evident in the UVA students’ relationship. Love’s roommates have testified that she and Huguely had several fights in those final months, and according to prosecutors, Huguely sent Love an email that said “I should have killed you.” People knew about the violence in this relationship, but no one spoke up.
As Janice D’Arcy wrote in her Washington Post parenting column, “In retrospect, it’s incidents like these that make escalating violence seem so obvious. But in real time, it’s hard for teens and young adults to understand what’s happening.” Media and society are desensitizing us to abuse, breeding a culture of silence that enables – sometimes encourages – all kinds of abusive behavior. When teens are lightheartedly tweeting about Chris Brown’s abuse towards Rihanna, how can we expect them to recognize the warning signs in their own relationships or those of their peers?
We need to fight back against our culture that condones abuse, and to do that, we need widespread education. Dating violence happens every day and touches one out of every four girls. We need to teach our teens about the warning signs, and teach them what the healthy relationships they deserve look like. We need to teach them to recognize abuse and speak out when they see it.
The Violence Against Women Act is currently up for reauthorization. This important legislation includes provisions for innovative prevention programs that teach young people, especially teens, about violence and healthy relationships. Please contact your Senators today and urge them to co-sponsor and pass S. 1925. It shouldn’t take a tragedy to inspire violence prevention.