I heard about Yeardley Love’s death on Monday morning. My first reaction was to focus on the practical aspects of this senseless tragedy but, as additional details emerged over the last few days, my thoughts turned to the nature and cause of such brutal acts. I spent some time on Tuesday night researching intimate partner violence, a longstanding societal issue that exists just below the surface of our culture, primarily as a result of the psychology and social stigma associated with abuse.
Yesterday morning, while daughter Audrey (12) and son Cole (10) were eating breakfast, I was overcome with emotion. I kept my back turned to them while I made their lunches, but they knew what was happening and why…it was a quiet kitchen for a few minutes. All I could think about was how similar their mornings must have been in their homes a dozen years ago…what unimaginable series of events could have led to this…and how it might have been prevented. The depth of this tragedy is unfathomable for any parent except those involved, and I’m overwhelmed with anguish for them. After all, their children were once 12- and 10-year-olds, too.
According to the National Institute of Justice, intimate partner homicides represent up to 50% of all murders of women in the United States. Many more sobering statistics can be found at the NIJ web site www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/topics/crime/intimate-partner-violence/welcome.htm, and additional resources can found at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s web site www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/intimatepartnerviolence/index.html
I firmly believe that the values of sport, particularly team sport, are overwhelmingly positive, but I’m also wise enough to know that no sport is immune from human tragedy. That such an event took place on the grounds of one of the most respected universities in the country and involved two talented lacrosse players has put this crime in the national spotlight, but the real focus should be the fact that about 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. Intimate partner violence is a human health crisis that is not limited to a particular demographic, although research indicates that it is more severe and occurs more often in economically disadvantaged communities.
We deeply mourn the loss of Yeardley Love and extend our thoughts and prayers to her family, friends and teammates. Once the facts and circumstances of this case are confirmed, perhaps there will be a way US Lacrosse can perpetuate among the national lacrosse community far greater awareness and recognition of this growing health concern. It’s already started in my house.