With the prevalence of dating violence among athletes, coaches are recognizing and fulfilling the need to discuss this issue with their student-athletes.
Since February is Dating Violence Awareness Month, organizations across Cabrini University’s campus have been finding ways to become more receptive towards dating violence, domestic violence and assault.
The Cabrini University social work department presented a viewing and discussion of the film “Answering the Call to Service: The Mark Hudson Story,” on Thursday, Feb. 22.
The event was open to the entire campus community and the public for anyone interested in attending; however, Cabrini University’s women’s lacrosse coach Jackie Neary highly encouraged the lacrosse players to attend the event.
Who was Mark Hudson?
On that tragic night, Hudson was shot and killed by his on-again off-again girlfriend, Tyiana Finch.
A couple of months before his death, Hudson did file papers to the authorities against Finch because they were having problems and things had gotten out of hand.
Hudson tried to receive help. He feared that he was going to lose his life to domestic violence. Unfortunately, he did.
Hudson’s mother was in attendance during the Thursday, Feb. 22 screening and discussion, to give the team, and other audience members, a more in-depth look at her son’s story and how it could have been prevented.
At the event, students, staff and community members had the opportunity to watch “Answering the Call to Service: A Mark Hudson Story” and engage in a discussion about dating and domestic violence.
Dating violence prevalent among college athletes
Coach Neary stressed that her team needed to attend this informative screening. Neary is justified in her concern for her players.
On May 3, 2010, the University of Virginia’s women lacrosse team lost one of their own to dating abuse and violence.
Yeardley Reynolds Love was beaten to death by her boyfriend, George Wesley Huguely V, a men’s lacrosse player at UVA.
The two were broken up and Huguely drunkenly went into Love’s room, shook her and repeatedly hit her head into the wall.
Huguely was charged with first degree murder.
It is important that athletes become aware of the signs of dating violence because college athletes are at a high risk of experiencing mental or emotional abuse and physical or sexual assault because of a partner. Violent sports and dating abuse have been linked among college athletes.
Dating violence is just as prevalent as sexual assault among college students. One in five students has experienced dating violence, according to the University of Michigan. College athletes are one of the demographics most likely to commit dating violence, so other athletes and those that interact with athletes are more vulnerable to experiencing dating violence.
Research has shown that men who participate in organized sports exhibit more aggressive behaviors, in both athletic and non-athletic contexts, according to the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health.
Additionally, athletes are conditioned to believe aggressive behavior is good.
Coaches and sports in general are also known to encourage a win-at-all-costs mentality and a positive outlook on aggression, as reported in “Psychology of Men and Masculinity.”
This reward system enhances the aggressive, hyper-masculine behavior of male athletes and leads to increased violence outside of the athletic context.
Along with agressive and violent behavior, locker-room talks enforces the concept that male athletes are entitled to and expected to receive female affection.
Why is this event important to Cabrini athletes
Cabrini University’s women’s lacrosse team attended the event to learn more about Mark Hudson and his personal experiences with dating and domestic violence.
Senior captain Megan McLoughlin has understood from the start how essential it is for her and the rest of her team to be educated on dating and domestic violence.
“It’s important for our team to be educated on dating and domestic violence because this could happen to any one of us. It’s not something that should be overlooked,” McLoughlin said. “Someone could be encountering domestic violence right now but not even know it. This event can be eye opening for our whole team and could teach us how to prevent it [dating and domestic violence] in the future.”
McLoughlin is not the only member of the lacrosse team who feels attending the event is important. She has a strong support system behind her on her team to back her up with that.
Another senior captain, Jacqueline Neary, could not agree more with her teammate.
“I think it’s important for us to attend this event as young females, who need to be more educated on the issue of dating and domestic violence,” Jacqueline Neary said.
With one in five students, on average, experiencing abuse at the hands of a partner, it is probable that more than a couple of Neary’s teammates have or will be involved with dating violence.
Jacqueline Neary said, “On a team of 20 plus females, it is highly likely that one of us will be in the position or have someone close to us affected by dating and domestic violence, and I think anything that can help bring awareness to the issue is very beneficial for all of us.”
The Cavaliers lacrosse team, along with many other organizations on campus, are currently learning more and more about dating and domestic violence.
You can too.
If you or anybody you know is affected by dating and domestic violence, you can call the National Dating Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or the National Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474.
“Knowledge is power, and at the same time, it can show us how lucky we have it and not to take life for granted,” McLoughlin said.