Experts hope UVA tragedy helps raise domestic violence awareness

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The tragedy at University of Virginia is bringing up an important awareness message.  Domestic violence doesn't just exist among married couples or in families, it affects high school and college students at an alarming rate.

Statistics show that nearly 25 percent of women will experience domestic violence at the hands of someone they are dating or are married too, and it's actually young women, ages 20 to 24 that are at the greatest risk.  Even scarier, on average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners every day in this country.

The headlines aren't hard to find.  Last September, Sam McCroskey was arrested and accused of beating four people including his teenage girlfriend and her parents.

And who could forget music superstar Chris Brown.

The Virginian, who turns 21 tomorrow, has been doing community service here in Richmond and received 5 years probation after being found guilty of assaulting then girlfriend Rhianna last year.

Brown has been in domestic violence counseling and proceeds from several of his concerts have benefited domestic violence shelters.

Becky lee with the YWCA of Richmond thinks that's a good thing because it helps raise awareness.

Becky Lee with YWCA of Richmond says, "I think the more information that we share with people, the better, just to make them stop to think."

Domestic violence can be as subtle as suggesting what someone should or should not wear.  According to the national domestic violence resource center, this goes younger than even college age too.

In fact, about one in four high school girls report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.  The more serious the relationship, the greater the risk.  Lee says if you suspect domestic violence, the best thing you can do is not judge and offer support.

Lee, "the most important thing you can do is say I'm here for you 24 hours a day, when you are ready, when you want too, when you need me, you can call me."

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