The Washington Post

The Huguely trial: A window into dating violence amid a month for prevention

The terrible revelations that have been spilling out of a Charlottesville courtroom about the troubled and violent relationship between two University of Virginia undergrads is a wretched backdrop to what’s been deemed Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month.

View Photo Gallery: George Huguely V, the former University of Virginia men’s lacrosse player, is accused in the 2010 death of Yeardley Love, his ex-girlfriend and a player on the women’s lacrosse team.

The Congressionally recognized month comes just as George Huguely V, a Chevy Chase Lacrosse player, began his trial for allegedly murdering his sometime girlfriend, the achingly innocent-looking Yeardley Love.

Prosecutors in the trial have described several violent episodes that gave friends pause.Once, an acquaintance saw “Huguely aggressively holding Love down in his bedroom,” according to the Post account of the trial.

At another point, Huguely sent Love an e-mail that read, in part: “I should have killed you.”

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.

In a survey for the National Resource Center for Teen Dating Violence, 57 percent of college students said they found it difficult to identify dating abuse, and 58 percent said they didn’t know how to help someone deal with it. Surprising results even though 43 percent of college women reported experiencing violent and abusive behavior.

Harder still might be a parent’s job. How can a parent recognize a dangerous dating situation when their child is off at college?

The Resource Center, which is coordinated by Break the Cycle, an anti-teen dating violence group, offers comprehensive guidance and links to resources.

Among the tips: Telling someone to “just leave” the relationship is not the answer. Take relationships among youth seriously. Understand dating violence isn’t just physical.

The first step, though, might be to recognize that it’s even a possibility. Unfortunately, for any parent following the Huguely trial, our eyes have been opened on the subject.

Have your children had experience with dating violence? How did you recognize it and confront it?

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