One Love: Saving Young Lives from Relationship Abuse One Workshop at a Time
Yeardley Love was a vibrant University of Virginia lacrosse player when she was killed by her ex-boyfriend three weeks before graduation.
After her funeral, and during the ongoing court case, it dawned on her grieving family and friends that there must have been warning signs that could have saved her life.
“They decided to start a foundation to make sure young people knew the signs of abusive relationships and give them the language around healthy and unhealthy relationships that Yeardley and her friends did not have,” says Julie Myers, newly installed CEO of the One Love Foundation. Myers, a long-time, highly respected lacrosse coach, knew Love since 2001 when Love was a middle school lacrosse star, but really became close with her when she coached Love at UVA. Myers is honored to now be leading the One Love Foundation established in Love’s memory.
One Love works to end relationship abuse by educating youth and young adults about the 10 signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships, which they developed with a team from Johns Hopkins Hospital. They do this through age-appropriate and diverse, fictional films, workshops, and a robust self-service online education center – all at no charge.
Since Yeardley’s tragic death made international headlines in 2010, One Love has reached more than 2.5 million young people in the U.S., including some 225,000 students across California. The state is one of the few where teaching healthy relationships is mandated in middle and high schools, affording the nonprofit “tremendous opportunity” for growth, Myers says.
Many students who experience a One Love workshop realize for the first time that they’re in an unhealthy relationship and seek support, says Myers.
“There’s also some really incredible stories from kids that take a workshop and realize they’re the perpetrator of these unhealthy signs. No one had told them anything different – they didn’t have the language and understanding to know it was unhealthy,” Myers says.
When a Bay Area mother gave her teen daughter a card with the signs on it because she was concerned about her daughter’s romantic relationship, the teen remarked to her mother that every one of the unhealthy signs was part of her relationship. That opened the communication between the girl and her mother, Myers says.
Not only is One Love helping young people navigate behaviors to ensure they don’t escalate to abuse, “we’re helping young people and their parents communicate better at a time when it’s very, very difficult to communicate,” Myers explains.
One Love-California works with community organizations, schools, and specific school districts – including San Francisco and Oakland – to build tailor-made programs for use with the youth they serve. One Love supports more than 140 volunteer youth leaders across the state who spread One Love’s life-saving prevention education while pushing for the program to be used in more schools in their communities.
“These young people are our boots on the ground in the schools and they’re leading hundreds if not thousands of their peers when it comes to having healthier relationships and loving better,” says Myers.
Contact: Katie Brosseau
Love is the most important thing in our lives, yet we are taught very little about. Our mission is to change that.
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The day after my son started working with One Love, he broke up with his girlfriend. This movie did more in one class period than our last two years of conversations with him. Thank you for giving my son a voice.
Help Prevent Relationship Violence
The One Love Foundation empowers young people to be the movement’s driving force in ending relationship abuse. They’re seeking $50,000 to fund all the materials, community building activities, and advocacy efforts needed to train Bay Area youth leaders and Team One Love clubs to educate their peers about abusive relationships. They’re focusing on connecting with more male-identifying youth this year to ensure they become a vital part of this important work.
“I was in an abusive relationship and couldn’t identify it until I found [One Love],” a college freshman said. “It was the first time I could put words to what I was experiencing, and I was ultimately able to leave my partner and move past this experience.”