Every new University of Virginia student attends an orientation discussing sexual consent and respect. October brings events pegged to Domestic Violence Awareness Month; In April, a weeklong Take Back the Night program has students sharing harrowing stories of abuse. The inadequacy of those anti-violence strategies materialized in graphic detail last week with the discovery of Yeardley Love, 22, dead in her off-campus apartment, allegedly murdered by an ex-boyfriend, reports the Baltimore Sun.
Nicole Eramo, assistant dean of students said, “We are going to be looking at how can we make it easier for students to come forward if they have suspicions or concerns about a friend’s relationship, or their own relationship.” The case has left school officials wondering what else they can do to protect their students. The most critical element in combating relationship violence will always be a willingness by students to speak out rather than remain silent – out of fear, complacency, or shame. “The problem is you can have 10,000 policies around it, but if nobody talks about [violence], they’re not going to work because nobody is going to know,” said Claire Kaplan of the university’s Women’s Center. Intimate partner conflict is the most common cause of assaults on U.S. campuses, said a report last month by the U.S. Secret Service, Department of Education, and FBI.