Lauren McCluskey: A Horrible Reminder of Intimate Partner Violence

Lauren McCluskey, 21-year-old senior track star at the University of Utah was killed by her ex-boyfriend, a registered sex offender, on Oct. 22.

McCluskey was shot and killed by Melvin Rowland, a 37-year-old, USA Today reports. According to McCluskey’s family, McCluskey broke off the month-long relationship after finding out that Rowland lied about his age, name and criminal history, according to Refinery29.

A little before 9 p.m., an altercation broke out between McCluskey and Rowland, where McCluskey was fatally shot. Rowland, who was on parole, according to the Utah Department of Corrections, later killed himself.

McCluskey reported to the University of Utah police that she had received texts from Rowland’s friend harassing her. It was later determined, after McCluskey’s death, that it was Rowland texting her through different numbers. The harassments were considered non-threatening by the police, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune. The police stated there was nothing that could be done and told McCluskey to notify them if the harassment got worse.

McCluskey did exactly what she was supposed to do: She reported to local police that she was being harassed. McCluskey later reported being extorted by Rowland for $1,000 over private pictures. The investigator on the case later found out that Rowland had been on parole. A case could have been made against Rowland for violating his parole had it been known earlier.

In a 2017 study by the Violence Policy Center, “When Men Murder Women,” it was found that in 2015, for every homicide where a culprit was found in woman’s murder, 93% of those women were killed by a male they knew. In the study’s conclusion, it was stated that in “a 2002 study from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health [it was] found that although the United States represented only 32 percent of the female population among 25 high-income countries, it accounted for 84 percent of all female firearm homicides.”

Femicide is a form of violence against women that results in a woman being murdered by a man, in most cases by an intimate partner, according to the World Health Organization. Femicide is not a widely recognized epidemic in the United States. References to femicide are not found in the United States’ government health departments but are found in the World Health Organization and in the United Nations.

Unfortunately, Lauren McCluskey’s death serves as a heartbreaking example of violence against women in the United States. Many colleges have their own ways of trying to prevent on- and off-campus violence.

At the University of Florida, the UF police department has multiple programs listed for any problems with intimate partner violence and outlines what to do in each type of situation. If you or someone you know feels in any way threatened, called the police. If you feel that you are still unsafe, UFPD advises to stay with a friend or relative.

It’s important to keep any evidence that could prove that you feel threatened by someone. This will allow for an easier process in getting a restraining order when prosecuting someone.

No one should have to feel unsafe on campus. McCluskey’s death is a sad reminder that an intimate partner is capable of doing something horrible, and it’s never too early to report if you feel unsafe. There are resources at the University of Florida, so please tell a friend, a loved one or an official if you’ve been feeling unsafe.