The Sexist

Could Yeardley Love’s Death Have Been Prevented By UVA’s Safety Tips?

On early Sunday morning, 22-year-old University of Virginia women's lacrosse player Yeardley Love was found dead in her apartment with "obvious physical injuries." Hours later, 22-year-old men's lacrosse player George Huguely was arrested and charged with first degree murder. Police didn't release many details in the case, save that Love and Huguely "had been in a relationship at some point" and that further investigation would focus on questioning "teammates and friends about the nature of the relationship between Love and Huguely."

All we know about Love's death is that she was likely killed by someone close to her. So why are UVA police responding to the murder by warning students against crimes committed by strangers?

The e-mail, from University of Virginia Police Chief Mike Gibson:

While Charlottesville remains a relatively safe environment, crimes do occur in our community. The best defense is to be prepared and to take responsibility for your own safety and for that of your friends and fellow students. A few key reminders:

Trust your instincts about a person or situation. If you feel uncomfortable, immediately report your concerns to police by calling 911.

If you are on the Grounds and need help, pick up one of the blue-light telephones. You will be immediately connected to University Police. Be aware of your surroundings. Do not let a cell phone conversation or listening to music distract you when crossing the street or in any type of situation that calls for your full attention.

Avoid isolated areas and walking alone at night. Use SafeRide (434-242-1122), walk with friends, or take a late-night weekend bus.

Keep your doors and windows locked.

Never allow strangers to follow you into a locked building and gain entry by "tailgating" you once you swipe the card reader in a residence hall. Also, never prop open card-reader doors.

If you see any of the following, immediately call the police at 911: a prowler, someone peeping into a residence, an individual watching, photographing or filming an area, or any other suspicious behavior.

Work with your neighbors and fellow community members to ensure a safe environment.

UVA police have instructed students how to avoid and/or respond to the following: An attack on the grounds of the university. Getting hit by a car. A late-night street attack. An attack by an unknown intruder.  An attack through the window. An attack by a prowler. An attack by a peeping Tom. An attack by a suspicious filmmaker.

Police believe that Love was killed by a more likely suspect—a man she knew. In general, women, and particularly young women, are more likely to be killed by someone they know than by a stranger. So why hasn't UVA included any information here about domestic violence?

UVA student Madeleine Conger, campus e-mail tipster extraordinaire, forwarded me Gibson's e-mail. "I find it appalling . . . that no mention is made of how to tell if you are in an abusive relationship, how to avoid escalating aggressive confrontation, resources for people in abusive situations, or tips for friends of those who are," says Conger. "Not even the number of the amazing women's center we have here." She adds: "I just don't understand why we can't speak honestly about violence. . . . Locking your doors isn't going to keep your boyfriend from hitting you."

I have a call out to the University of Virginia Police Department asking about the nature of the tips. In the meantime, students can head to the UVA Women's Center, where they can find resources specific to sexual assault and domestic violence.

  • ElDiablo666

    This is why I think we should have specific laws for domestic violence. A relationship needs to be a respite from the cold injustices of the world; the home ought to be a place of peace. It's worse to be assaulted and possibly killed by someone who allegedly cares about you than by a stranger. How can we expect a properly coordinated community response if the police aren't capable of understanding the nature of the crime?

  • http://www.StreakingtheLawn.com StreakingtheLawn

    Aside from the fact that Mr. Huguely has not been convicted of murder, and that we live in a system where one is innocent until proven guilty, it's a little too early to be playing this game, don't you think? People haven't even dried their tears yet over this, and you're already pointing fingers at the police? PLEASE check your facts! The statement from the Chief Gibson came out at 9:18 a.m., BEFORE her death was declared a homicide, and BEFORE Mr. Huguely was arrested and charged for murder. You can see the timeline of emails here: http://www.virginia.edu/emergency/message050310.html

    The information on violence and abusive relationships -- certainly knowledge that needs to be spread -- will come in time. For now, let's just let the police do their jobs and let's not play the bureaucratic blame game just yet.

    Some of us are still mourning the loss.

  • kza

    Are we still shocked that colleges fuck these things up? Isn't it expected at this point? "take responsibility for your own safety and for that of your friends and fellow students." they even threw in some victim blaming for good measure.

  • Jay

    The police cannot win. If the chief had done nothing he would have been criticized. If he had sent out an email about relationships he would have been told to stay out of people's business.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    StreakingtheLawn,

    Regardless of when those safety tips were initially written (I'm guessing they have this sort of thing on file), they were e-mailed to students as an attachment to President Casteen's e-mail to the university community at 3:55 p.m. yesterday. Casteen's e-mail identified Huguely by name, noted that he had been charged, and urged "all students and faculty/staff to read both of the following statements with care." One of the statements he is referring to is the list of police tips.

  • A Father and a Man

    This is such a tragedy for the family of this young woman, her friends, team and class mates, and the UVA community. Can each and all of us look in to our daily actions and say with conviction that we have done all and everything to help the people around us to escape and/or end cycles of violence? This terrible tragedy illustates how important it is to do all we can.

  • xman

    why are they warning about strangers? Well because there is nothing they can do about non strangers, unless you isolate yourself from everyone you know there is no way. You are talking about her being in an abusive relationship without any evidence. If she was murdered by him which is yet to be decided then that still doesn't mean he was abusive, maybe she provoked him in a way or did something which he lost his temper, like cheated on him.

  • http://abyss2hope.blogspot.com abyss2hope

    These generic safety tips which didn't cover the crime and the relationship between the victim and her alleged murderer shouldn't have been sent out with this email. One problem is that the tips didn't match this case and they are not true prevention tips.

    The other problem is that the tips should have included directions for those who are a danger to others. They should be given a number to call for help defusing their potential violence. Any prevention message needs to make it clear that those who are tempted to be violent will not be allowed to blame their victims for their violence.

    I disagree with the commenters who throw up "Innocent until proven guilty" to argue against Amanda's points. Criticism of the response to a student's death don't undermine the constitutional rights of the student charged with murder. Neither does the belief that this was a domestic violence related homicide.

  • Anita

    I hope that Yeardley's family will have justice one day, without their loved one being trashed by a defense attorney.

  • MJ

    Lots of bad stuff here. First: Lacrosse: the connection of this student to the ACC, which also featured the case of other Lacrosse players at Duke (who were found innocent in 2006), and which the student commented on in an article in 2006 as a high school student and top recruit to UVa's program. Second: UVa Lacrosse's 2008 suicide of a fellow team member (something up with Lacrosse in the ACC again? Maybe something about Lacrosse not being a very diverse sport, for one?) Third: the language from UVa certainly should be updated. Fourth: student's major. The Anthropology dept. at UVa does have an excellent reputation, but the undergraduate major often attracts athletes that major to maintain sufficient GPA to comply with NCAA standards. This may come across as hearsay - so I would be careful with it, especially in light of the excellent work of that department.

  • http://www.uvavictimsofrape.com Susan

    UVA is well known for covering up incidents of violence against women. President Casteen has never spoken with victims, made changes to policy that would assist women to come forward and report their assaults, and does not support sanction or expulsion of students found guilty of committing sexual assault by the school's Sexual Assault board. What happened to Ms Love is quite tragic, but not surprising to anyone who has been a victim of violence on that campus.
    For more info, visit my website (link won't print in the comments)

  • LeftSidePositive

    This is one of the stupidest statements ever:

    If she was murdered by him which is yet to be decided then that still doesn’t mean he was abusive, maybe she provoked him in a way or did something which he lost his temper, like cheated on him.

    WHAT, FOR FUCK'S SAKE, HAS TO HAPPEN TO MEET YOUR CRITERIA FOR ABUSE?!?!?!?

    I mean, she's FUCKING DEAD! Isn't that "abused" enough for you??

    And, there is NOTHING--not cheating, not provoking, not nagging, not bludgeoning someone's puppy to death with an umbrella--that justifies abuse of ANY kind (and, in the case of the aforementioned poor puppy, call the ASPCA and/or the police, but don't hit!), much less death.

    What, don't you think practically every abusive person thinks they're "provoked" in some way? That's practically the fucking definition of being abusive.

  • Eo

    Leftsidepositive

    This person is talking about the new perception of domestic violence, studies are showing that women are more likely to be violent and initiate domestic abuse and that the strongest predictor of a woman being injured in a domestic is her own violence.

    http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/1546465

    At this point we dont know the full story and its too soon to judge this, for all we know she could have fallen and banged her head while trying to hot the guy.

  • Eo

    *hit

  • cmb

    http://www.readthehook.com/blog/index.php/2010/05/04/huguely-admissions-murder-suspect-allegedly-says-he-kicked-through-door-shook-love/

    This article might help fill in some gaps for those who feel that Huguely is being prematurely judged.

  • Eo

    Good grief, well by the sounds of it hes a murderer for sure.

  • noodlez

    MS. MANDY TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION. "no."

    THOSE BOILERPLATE DISCLAIMERS AND THOSE QUICK TO SHOW "WE ARE DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT" STATEMENTS ARE WORTHLESS. YOU WANT FOLK TO PAY ATTENTION BEFOREHAND AND ADHERE TO POSTED WARNINGS BUT HOW MANY OF US DO?

    EVEN IF THERE IS AN ACTIVE COMMUNITY OF FOLK OUT THERE WHO ORGANIZE EVERY NIGHT AT THESE TYPES OF PLACES/EVENTS TO PREVENT YOUNG LADIES FROM WALKING HOME BY THEMSELVES, TO HAVING BACKGROUND CHECKS DONE ON ROOMIES AND LOVERS AND THE WILLINGNESS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT TO BE PROACTIVE IN THEIR APPROACH THEN ALL WE ARE DOING IS REDUCING THE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY FOR PERVERTS AND MISCREANTS.

    THE OPPORTUNITY IS STILL THERE!

    IM NERVOUS AS A MUTHA! MY DAUGHTER IS 11, SMART AND SHARP. 7 YEARS FROM NOW THINGS WILL PROBABLY BE WORSE OFF THEN WHAT THEY ARE NOW WITH RESPECT TO YOUNG LADIES AT COLLEGES. I PITY THE FOOL WHO CANT TAKE MY DAUGHTERS SWIFT AND DEADLY WIT(A CHIP OFF THE OLD noodlez) AND DECIDES TO DEAL WITH HER IN A MANNER THAT IS LESS THAN GENTLEMANLY. ITS GONNA BE A PROBLEM!!!

    MY CONDOLENCES TO THE LOVE FAMILY!!!

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  • squirrely girl

    So I'm really hoping this thread isn't going to derail into the "your side has it better/worse/less/more than our side and we've got the only unbiased, perfect study to back it up so look at MEEEEEE" game.

    OBVIOUSLY relationship violence that escalates into homicide IS a problem. If you don't have something original or even moderately helpful to contribute, go troll someplace else. Seriously.

    I think the big concern of mine is that violent people like this don’t usually just “snap.” They escalate to a breaking point (homicide). I wonder how many bruises or injuries he “got away with” that could have been explained as lacrosse injuries on the part of Love... I just wonder how long this has really been going on...

  • healtheducator

    After taking a deep breath, one needs to keep in mind that the rules above do not necessarily apply only to the victims/potential victims - but to every member in the community surrounding her/him.

    Often abusive exes or stalkers gain access to secured buildings through people who don't know them, or don't know the circumstances (that s/he is not a welcome guest).

    Yes, for yourself, for your room/suite mates, for someone down the hall or on another floor, keep YOUR doors & windows locked & encourage everyone to do the same.

    Peeping frequently is part of the history of those who have been convicted of more serious crimes. Loitering around is also part of a stalker's MO.

    That being said, it is unfortunate that they did not ALSO include a reference to violence potential from non-strangers with what campus & community resources are available to help students with those issues.

  • Gerald

    Why isn't anyone questioning the roommate about whether she heard anything? And then only reported Yeardley as a "possible alcohol overdose?" Did anyone hear her head banging against the wall? How about her so called "friends" on the lacrosse team- did they simply not notice anything wrong with how aggressive Huguely was suppposedly being to her in the weeks leading up to this? Or his teammates?

  • Emily

    Thank you for posting. So often these are the "tips" that remind women -- DON'T GO OUTSIDE. DON'T GO ANYWHERE ALONE.

    As if we're safe in our apartments, homes, dorms...

    Don't these people follow the news? All too often, the ex, the boyfriend, the husband.....COME ON PEOPLE.

  • clarence

    Abuse of any kind, LSP?

    And what would that be? Raising one's voice? Slamming a door? Responding to violence with violence?

    Let me put it this way: approximately 4000 people a year are killed in DV related incidents. Actually, probably five to 6 thousand if one was to do what the FBI doesn't, and adds contractual murders (mostly by women) to the stats.

    More people die in automobile accidents.More people die in the drug trade. The vast majority of even really abusive relationships do NOT lead to death, and by really abusive I mean the stereotypical ones where one partner beats the other like a rag doll on a consistent or semi-consistent basis and not the more common ones where someone pushes or slaps, or grabs the other in an isolated instance or where there is mutual violence, or heaven forbid where one or both partners "verbally abuse" one another.

    And yes, Emily, you are safe in y our home and dorm. You are more likely to be killed in your car, than by your romantic partner. Besides, men are the overwhelming victims of deadly violence when one counts not the just the official female on male domestic homicides (bout a thousand a year) but also all the victims of violent crime.

    Stop with the hysteria. It does no one any good. If this guy is guilty and it seems as if he is, the justice system will take care of him and put him away for a good long time -possibly even take his life, if other prisoners don't first.

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  • A-chan

    I'm a current UVA student, and I'd like to point out that they send out a similar e-mail every time a crime happens on or around grounds. It's just a reminder about general safety, nothing to get worked up about. There are plenty of resources and active movements for domestic violence awareness throughout the year (and especially after a tragedy such as this one)

    Also, we got the e-mail before they'd determined the nature of her death, so please check your facts before you fly off the handle about something like this. I feel like our local police and the university administration genuinely care about the community and are trying hard to act and respond in our best interests.

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