Live in Virginia, date an abuser, and want a restraining order? You’re out of luck
I’m so dismayed by this that I’ve had a hard time trying to fit it into a broader post, so instead, I’m just going to provide the information as is. According to Newsweek’s Jessica Bennett, “Virginia is one of eight states that excludes people in dating relationships — in other words, unmarried couples or partners — from getting protective restraining orders, and for the past three years, the state has failed an annual assessment of domestic-violence-protection laws.”
In other words, even if she wanted to, Yeardley Love couldn’t have filed a restraining order against George Huguely, the UVA student charged with first-degree murder in her death. When you consider that partner violence is at its highest among women aged 16 to 24 — and that the median marriage age in Virginia (among women) is 25 — then you’re left with a status quo where the women who most need support from law enforcement are in the worst position to get it.
UVA’s president, John Casteen, has asked Governor McDonnell to pursue legislation that would compel police departments to notify universities in the event of a student’s arrest, and while that’s good, it isn’t nearly enough. Domestic violence is an incredibly taboo subject, and women — especially young women — have trouble knowing or admitting that they are in abusive relationships. Restricting the means through which women can find help and legal protection is a recipe for more silence and more abuse, and given the circumstances, the University should take the lead in changing this incredibly pernicious law.