“Follow your heart. You just have to jump in and hope what you do is right. You may need to tweak it or change your direction as time goes on.”
En español | After my 22-year-old daughter, Yeardley Love, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, I came to believe that education about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships and the warning signs of relationship abuse could save lives. In 2010, I founded the One Love Foundation to spare other families from experiencing the loss that we had to endure.
The problem I’m trying to solve
Relationship abuse is a public health epidemic impacting every socioeconomic demographic, at an estimated annual cost of more than $37 billion. Studies estimate that 1 in 3 women, 1 in 4 men, and 1 in 2 transgender and nonbinary people will experience relationship abuse in their lifetime. Girls and young women ages 16 to 24 have a three times greater risk of experiencing relationship abuse. One Love believes we can change these statistics by educating young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships, empowering them to identify and avoid abuse.
In 2014, One Love piloted its first film and discussion-based workshop, Escalation, with college audiences. Today we are a national leader in relationship-health education. Our extensive resource library features 40-plus pieces of video ranging from 30 seconds to 40 minutes, seven discussion guides and an active blog — all available for free on our website. Our resources have been used by the military, NFL teams, corporations and more than 800 colleges, 650 high schools, 120 middle schools and 660 nonprofits and government organizations. Today we have reached over 1.1 million people through in-person workshops held in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, plus 15 countries.
The moment that sparked my passion
On May 3, 2010, I learned that my youngest daughter, Yeardley, had been killed. She was just about to graduate from college and had her whole life ahead of her. I didn’t know things like this happened to people. My image of domestic abuse was the TV movie The Burning Bed, with Farrah Fawcett. My family and I came to realize that if anyone had known the warning signs of an abusive relationship, such as extreme possessiveness and isolating a partner from family and friends, Yeardley’s death could have been prevented. I’ve now dedicated my life to ensuring that everyone understands the critical signs of relationship abuse and feels empowered as a bystander to prevent these tragedies, thus creating a world where my grandchildren will know only healthy relationships.
What I wish other people knew
In the beginning, we were just going at it with blind faith and hoping we were making a difference. But we didn’t have any proof. We knew that the kids were very interested and that the topic excited them. It took time, but then letters started pouring in from people who benefited from our program. Over the past decade, I have stayed in touch with many, including a young woman who fell into an abusive relationship when she was a college freshman. She was emboldened by our program to go to the school and report the abuser, who was eventually expelled and spent time in jail.
My advice to others who want to make a difference
Follow your heart. You just have to jump in and hope what you do is right. You may need to tweak it or change your direction as time goes on. But if you’re following your heart and you believe in what you’re doing, you’re going to be successful. You’ll never regret what you tried. You’ll always regret what you never tried.
Why my approach is unique
Because of the dire needs of victims and survivors of relationship abuse, traditionally many organizations in this space are not able to focus on prevention. One Love was founded to fill this gap. We wanted to do for relationship abuse and violence what Mothers Against Drunk Driving did for drunk driving. We believe that prevention is the best, if not the only, way to solve this problem and that by talking to young people in a language they can hear and engaging their natural interest in learning about healthy relationships, we can proactively change the statistics by preventing unhealthy behaviors from being allowed to escalate to abuse.