BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Until the highly publicized murder of Cockeysville’s Yeardley Love by her boyfriend, dating violence was something many young women didn’t think could happen to them.
That’s why Yeardley’s mother and sister are on a mission–to get the word out before it’s too late.
Denise Koch explains how they’re saving lives.
Were Yeardley Love and George Huguely destined for disaster?
May 3, 2010. Yeardley’s boyfriend George Huguely kicks in the door to her apartment at the University of Virginia.
“I don’t know what was going through his mind that night,” said Lexie Love, Yeardley’s sister.
In a drunken rage, he beats her and leaves her to die.
“When they said ‘Are you Yeardley’s mother,’ I guess I knew something horrible,” said Sharon Love, Yeardley’s mother.
Convicted of murder, Huguely is now serving a 23-year sentence.
“You keep thinking and believing that this isn’t real. Just a little feeling in the back of your mind that she’s going to walk through the door,” Lexie said.
Not a day goes by that Sharon and Lexie don’t think about “what if.”
If they only knew then what they know now about domestic violence, Yeardley may still be here today.
Sharon: “We’re learning backwards now.”
Denise: “Right and because of you, we can now learn.”
“I’m just so much more aware of people’s behavior and characteristics than I was before,” said Lexie.
Each year, domestic violence kills more than 450 women between 16 and 26 years old. Yeardley’s family now sees the danger signs they all missed.
Denise: “There were a couple of instances where he got angry and he grabbed her and that sort of thing, did she tell you about this?”
Lexie: “Yes, just one time. He held her down and that really shook her up.”
“I think he held her down around her neck which is worse, that’s like a major sign which we’ve learned since then,” Sharon said.
Sharon and Lexie founded the One Love Foundation to warn young women so they can escape a potentially deadly relationship. They wanted an easy way to instantly alert them to danger.
“The One Love Foundation developed an app and it’s free,” said Sharon.
They teamed up with Dr. Jackie Campbell, who’s studied violence between intimate partners for 30 years.
“The problem is, for a young woman at college, oftentimes for a young woman in high school, they’re not going to tell their parents about these things and they also don’t recognize them as being highly dangerous signs,” Campbell said.
The app includes 20 questions that ask things like whether you feel controlled by your partner, or if fights get physical.
“They get a score and it shows on a graph where they are compared to other women how dangerous this is and then it tells them based on that level of danger what they need to do,” said Campbell.
With this app, Sharon and Lexie are on a crusade to educate young women and their parents. They hope this simple questionnaire will save lives.
“Maybe that will ring a bell in your head that gosh, when I took that test that was one of the behaviors I was supposed to be looking out for,” Sharon said.
You can find out more about the warning signs for dating violence and the One Love Foundation app by clicking here.