Would you know relationship violence if you saw it? What if you were experiencing it? Would you know that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience relationship violence in their lifetime? Would you recognize the warning signs? Considering the fact that 57% of college students report that it is difficult to identify dating violence, chances are even if you saw it, you wouldn’t know how to step in or even where to start.
This is precisely the project of the One Love Foundation, started in memorial of Yeardley Love, a senior lacrosse star at the University of Virginia, who was beaten to death by her boyfriend three weeks before her graduation. As their website reads, the work of One Love “is rooted in our honest belief that relationship violence is an epidemic that can be stopped when young adults are educated and empowered to affect change in their communities.”
Relationship violence is an epidemic that can be stopped in its tracks, but it must begin by stigmatizing the behavior and encouraging bystanders to step in. The problem is, according to the One Love’s statistics, 95% of students who are not perpetrating the abuse do not believe that this is their social issue to solve and thus remain silent, despite the fact that this is an issue that dramatically affects friends and loved-ones.
It is for this reason that One Love has decided to change the social climate surrounding relationship violence, and thus “reduce the amount of social capital required by bystanders to intervene” – when young people have the tools to act and speak against relationship abuse, their voice as a collective whole will overpower that of the perpetrators.
This is why One Love is meeting young people where they are most often – on campus and online – and using emotionally powerful material to inspire and then mobilize young people to change the status quo. One Love uses student leaders to hold Escalation Workshops on campuses across the country to make students aware of the warning signs and engage in conversation about we can and should respond to relationship violence.
Their digital campaigns have reached viral status, including their most widely recognized campaign #ThatsNotLove, which aims to clarify the grey area between love and control in a relationship. In addition to their media campaigns, One Love offers the opportunity for students to become a trained facilitator and host an escalation workshop on his or her campus. If becoming a facilitator is too big of a step for you, One Love encourages students to join the team and take action in any way they can.
If you feel like you might be part of a violent relationship, One Love recognizes the difficulty of assessing the danger level in a relationship. In addition to multiple real-time resources, One Love created the My Plan App to help women and men determine if a relationship is unsafe and create an action plan to make necessary changes safely. The app is designed to easily deliver life-saving information when needed by making 20 years of research on female victims of relationship violence conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers available as an immediate and reliable resource.
The point is, Yeardley Love was just one victim we lost too soon to an international problem. One Love does well to keep Yeardley’s legacy alive while also encouraging students to take tangible steps towards understanding and stopping relationship abuse. If not to further your personal understanding of relationship abuse and violence, join the One Love movement for the friend, sister, cousin, mother, or brother that needs you to step in and stand up for them.
Everyone deserves love unencumbered by fear of violence. We simply can’t afford to be lethargic.