Lessons from the Lacrosse Killer
A writer who knows her crime sees a hard lesson in the Virginia lacrosse murder.
On May 3, Yeardley Love, a lacrosse player at the University of Virginia, was beaten to death, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, George Huguely, another lacrosse player at the university. It was not the first time he had engaged in violence against her. Kathryn Casey, a true-crime writer for the blog Women In Crime Ink, has a warning for women who might find themselves in similarly abusive relationships:
They’re not knights in shining armor. Their fervor isn’t building because they love and want to protect you. I don’t care if you met them in a bar, in church or on a college campus. The first time he lifts a fist toward you, when he issues his first threat, or his behavior verges on stalking, get help. Don’t explain it away. Don’t think you can change him. Tell those in charge, expose him for what he is, do what you have to do to stay safe, and get him the hell out of your life.
In fact, it’s a good thing to stand your ground from the start. Take your time. Don’t get invested in a guy too early. Wait on falling head over heels and starting a sexual relationship with a guy, until you know what type of person he is, including how he handles conflict. Do your best to make sure he’s one of the good guys before you become romantically entangled.
There are almost always signs that a jerk’s not a keeper. There are indications that the situation is spiraling out of control. Listen to your instincts. Those little hairs standing up on the back of your neck when you think about what he’s capable of, they’re telling you something. The goosebumps on your arms might not be from attraction but fear. Watch for the signs, keep your eyes open, and if you see indications that the guy has violence, rage, sex and love mixed-up, get out!
George Huguely, now charged with murdering girlfriend Yeardley Love, apparently gave off those warning signals. News reports tell of prior altercations, including one with a woman police officer during which he yelled racial and sexual slurs. That run-in with the law resulted in probation. Huguely is, his friends say, a mean drunk. Yeardley must have known that; they were dating. Why didn’t she alert authorities when he sent her threatening text messages? Am I blaming the victim? No. The villain here isn’t Love; it’s Huguely. But we as women need to be proactive. We need to do what we can to protect ourselves.
Love had options she apparently didn’t take. Perhaps she thought she’d hang in there until May 23, when she and the man she was trying to wrench out of her life would each graduate and move in separate directions. Perhaps she’d talked him out of his rampages before and thought she could control him. Perhaps Love believed that, despite his threats, Huguely would never truly hurt her.
I understand that hindsight is 20/20, but Yeardley needed to take action, to get safe. She needed to understand who George Huguely is and that he had no place in her life.