Yeardley Love's mother, Sharon Love, leaves the Charlottesville Circuit Court during a lunch break on the second day of jury selection Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012 for the George Huguely trial. (Sabrina Schaeffer/AP)

After mostly maintaining public silence about the murder of her daughter, Yeardley Love’s mother is emerging as an ardent speaker against partner violence.

It has been nearly 21 / 2 years since police knocked on the door of Sharon Love’s home in Cockeysville, Md., at 6 a.m. Her 22-year-old daughter had been found dead, just weeks before her graduation from the University of Virginia, where she and George Huguely V of Chevy Chase were varsity lacrosse players.

With Huguely convicted of murdering Yeardley and sentenced to 23 years in prison, Sharon Love feels freer to speak about the crime, its aftermath and the broader issue of relationship violence. Through her advocacy, as well as the negligence suits she has filed against Huguely and the University of Virginia, Love hopes the warning signs of dating violence will no longer be ignored.

“The thing that would kill me is if something else happened, and I didn’t do anything to prevent it,” she said. “I couldn’t live with myself.”

On Thursday, Love appeared on Katie Couric’s new talk show with her elder daughter, Lexie, and Jacquelyn Campbell, a Johns Hopkins School of Nursing professor who is one of the nation’s leading researchers on partner violence. The appearance launched the “Be 1 for Change” campaign, which targets people ages 16 through 24 with a new mobile app and a public service announcement about dating violence.

Love is still getting used to her new role in a cause that chose her, she said, rather than the other way around.

“As much as we wanted to avoid the topic,” she said, “it kept coming back to us.”

Love said her loss remains just below the surface, arising during what would otherwise be happy times, such as the wedding this spring of Love’s niece.

“It’s so noticeable when Yeardley’s not there,” said Love, who retired this year after 28 years as an interpreter for and tutor of deaf students. “I didn’t expect to think that way at all, but I did. I didn’t expect to think, ‘Yeardley should be here.’ ”

While Love will continue to work as needed with the school system, her focus will be on the One Love Foundation, which she and Lexie started in Yeardley’s memory.

“It doesn’t get easier; I think it just gets different,” Love said. “It changes you forever.”

— Baltimore Sun