NEW YORK (AP) — Sharon Love says dating violence wasn't even on her radar when her college-age daughter was killed nearly four years ago. She wants other parents and their teenagers to be better informed than she was.
Twenty-two-year-old Yeardley Love's ex-boyfriend was convicted of her 2010 beating death — something Sharon Love says still seems "unfathomable" — and is serving a 23-year prison term. The two had played lacrosse at the University of Virginia.
Love and other panelists kicked off a daylong push Tuesday at Planet Hollywood in Manhattan to raise awareness of teen dating violence. The initiative called "No More Silence: It's Time To Talk Day" was sponsored by Los Angeles-based Break the Cycle, a national organization that works to prevent abusive relationships among teenagers.
Danielle Helwig said she was a high school student in Rockland County, N.Y., when her first serious relationship turned violent.
"I never had heard about what an abusive relationship consisted of so I kind of just blew it off," Helwig, now 21, said. "It wasn't until the physical abuse happened again in front of my friends that my parents found out about it, and we took it from there."
Jordyn Wieber, a member of the 2012 gold medal-winning U.S. women's gymnastics team, said she has no personal experience of dating violence but has two sisters, many teammates, fans and friends "who I would never want to see anything like this happen to."
Love and Wieber later spoke to several hundred students at Manhattan's High School of Fashion Industries. They urged the teens to be aware of the signs that a friend might be in an unsafe relationship.
"I don't think the word relationship violence ever came up in our house," Love said. "As far as your age, college age, it just didn't seem to exist."
Break the Cycle encourages parents to start conversations with their teens about what a healthy relationship looks like and is offering an online "toolkit" with suggestions for how to raise the issue.
Jordyn Wieber's mother, Rita Wieber, said she would use the toolkit.
"The last thing I want to do is start a conversation sounding like I'm going to be 'Mom-ing' my daughters or lecturing them or saying something awkward or stupid," Rita Wieber said. "I have a 14-year-old. Almost everything I say to her sounds stupid."
Also, a foundation Love started in her daughter's memory, the One Love Foundation, has a smartphone app designed to help the user determine if she or he is in an abusive relationship.
One Love Foundation: http://www.joinonelove.org
Break the Cycle: http://www.breakthecycle.org