The death of Yeardley Love has shed a new light on dating violence on college campuses. Two weeks ago, May 3rd, 2011 marked the one-year anniversary of Yeardley Love’s death. Love was a fourth-year at the University of Virginia where she majored in government with a minor in Spanish and played on the women’s lacrosse team. A year ago, ex boyfriend and fellow lacrosse player, George Huguely allegedly murdered Love by hitting her head against a wall multiple times. Huguely is currently in Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail in solitary confinement waiting for his trail with the grand jury. This was not the first time he had attacked Love. In February of last year, eyewitnesses said that Huguely attacked Love by jumping on her and choking her while the pair was celebrating with teammates at a bar. This altercation went unreported to police.

Dating violence is known as a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse committed by a current or previous dating partner. The violence included insults, sexual harassment, stalking, physical and/or sexual abuse that can happen to anyone no matter their gender, race, or sexuality. In many cases though, women suffer the most from this abuse. There have been numerous incidents of women suffering this violence on college campuses across the United States.

Back in April of 2009, Emily Silverstein, a sophomore at Gettysburg College was found dead at an off-campus apartment. Her ex-boyfriend and former peer, Kevin Schaeffer was charged for committing the strangling and stabbing of Silverstein. On the night of her death, the two reportedly got into a physical argument where Schaeffer pushed her onto the floor, choked her, then stabbed her in the neck.

Last December, a San Diego State University student was fatally shot by her ex-boyfriend. The victim, Michel David was a 22 year-old student who was a week away from graduating. She and her ex-boyfriend, Daniel Shoemake had dated for five years but recently broke up due to his drug problem. On the morning of David’s death, Shoemake sent her multiple text messages telling her to come outside of her apartment. When she came out, he shot her twice with an assault rifle, fled the scene, and then shot himself.

Violent attacks on campuses unfortunately are not rare occurrences. Publicity is given to the most egregious occurrences but students must be made aware of how any violence in a relationship in unacceptable.

Although many attacks go unreported, there are enough statistics to indicate a widespread problem. On The Red Flag Campaign’s website, “a public awareness campaign designed to address dating violence and promote the prevention of dating violence on college campuses,” data is provided from multiple studies. One study surveyed 6,000 students at 32 colleges and universities in the U.S. and found that 1 in 4 women had been victims of rape or attempted rape. In another study done in 2004, “as many as one quarter of female students experience sexual assault over the course of their college career.” Clearly, studies show that violence is apart of the college experience many students face.

Steps are being taken to change this dynamic. For example, in Congress this year, legislation was introduced to amend Title IX of the Education Act. The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act) mandates that schools implement programs such as “bystander education, requiring colleges to report all alleged sexual violence incidents to the government, forcing colleges to highlight victim’s rights, obliging students to enforce protection policies, and lowering the burden of proof for victims.” In addition, new programs on college campuses are focusing on informing all students of the violence, not just potential victims so that men and women are educated together on what is right and wrong in a dating relationship.

After the Love murder, students are much more attuned to campus dating violence. When interviewing students on Sweet Briar’s campus, I asked if they thought dating violence is an issue in general and if so, why?

Brittany Fox ’12, a resident of Charlottesville agrees that dating violence is an issue. She says, “It is important because a lot of times these kind of issues go under the radar. Either girls are too afraid or oppressed or are beaten down in their relationships to come forward and even say anything because they don’t want to cause drama.” She goes on to say, “Girls might not realize how violence like this can quickly escalate and become a bigger issue just as it did for Yeardley Love.”

Happy Lathrop ’12 believes dating violence is a concern but not on Sweet Briar’s campus because of the large amount of interaction the students have with the administration. She told me, “I believe the violence goes on at other campuses because college administration doesn’t really know what is going on in students’ lives. They are too removed.”

To get another perspective, one former Hampden Sydney student, Joey Severns ’10 discussed his views. He believes that dating violence is an issue on college campuses where the violence is not openly discussed. I asked him if he ever witnessed such violence on Hampden Sydney’s college. He responded, “I did witness some examples of dating violence. This was not often and generally isolate to only a few instances. The occurrences I witnessed had to do with boyfriends being controlling.” I then went on to ask him if he reported this incident. He said, “I never made a formal report because I didn’t think it was severe enough to report. I could be wrong though.”

Dating violence on college campuses is a prevalent issue in among the younger society in America. The problem persists within each individual college whether it is the lack of awareness among the student body or the way the institution deals with the violence occurring. On their website, the Department of Justice provides a section about dating violence. They say, “Campuses, in partnership with community-based nonprofit victim advocacy organizations and local criminal justice or civil legal agencies, must adopt protocols and policies that treat violence against women as a serious offense and develop victim service programs that ensure victim safety, offender accountability, and the prevention of such crimes.” It does not matter how severe the attacks can be, the violent behavior in relationships in unacceptable.