Charity Spotlight Column for Washington Life Magazine Written by Sharon Love
Join One Love to Combat Relationship Violence
Washington Life Magazine Charity Spotlight | One Love Foundation
On May 3, 2010 at 6 a.m., I was greeted at my front door by two Baltimore County police officers. They informed me that my daughter, Yeardley, had been beaten to death in her apartment at the University of Virginia. Her former boyfriend, George Huguely, was charged with her murder.
I heard the words but did not believe them. The fact that someone would intentionally harm Yeardley was incomprehensible. It was impossible to process; the finality was unbearable. Violence was foreign to our family. My husband and I never once raised a hand to our daughters. We always parted by saying “I love you” both verbally and in sign language.
Yeardley played on the University of Virginia women’s lacrosse team and George Huguely was on the men’s lacrosse team. Yeardley was a political science major and a Spanish minor. She was on the honor roll and it was only weeks until graduation. Yeardley planned to move to New York for a year or two and then go back to school to pursue a law degree. All of this was dashed in a moment of selfish rage. Yeardley’s life was taken and many more lives were devastated.
With the kindness and support of so many friends and strangers, we started the One Love Foundation in June 2010. Yeardley’s jersey number was 1, and her last name Love. The initial purpose of the foundation was to help fund a turf field to honor Yeardley’s legacy at Notre Dame Preparatory School, and fund inner-city lacrosse teams. We had no intention of addressing relationship violence but soon came to realize that it was a topic we couldn’t ignore. We received so many letters and phone calls from people telling us of the abuse they had suffered, and many were telling their story for the first time.
In February of 2012 jury selection began for the trial of George Huguely. I had read that one out of three women would be abused in their lifetime, but it didn’t register. As I sat in the court room in the idyllic town of Charlottesville, Va., those statistics jumped off the page. Potential jurors were asked if they had ever been affected by relationship violence and one in three of them answered yes. Reading these statistics was one thing, watching them unfold was another. Thirty-three percent of these potential jurors had similar stories to tell.
George Huguely was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 23 years in prison. Shortly after the trial ended, through the generous contribution of the Michael and Kim Ward Foundation the “Be 1 for Change” campaign was launched. I am convinced that Michael and Kim Ward were truly heaven sent.
About 4.8 million women are victimized by intimate partners each year
In phase one of this new campaign, One Love has teamed up with Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Bloomberg School of Public Health, who have devoted over 20 years of research to relationship violence statistics and prevention. With the support and expertise of researchers at Hopkins and Bloomberg, the One Love Foundation has started to develop a longterm plan to decrease the number of relationship violence victims in the United States and abroad.
Our target age group during the initial phase is 16 to 24 years old. The initiative aims to educate, empower and enlighten young people through a powerful public service announcement and our free and anonymous One Love DA Application, available for smart phones. The application is a danger assessment which can be used by potential victims, or friends and family of potential victims to determine if they are at risk and where to find help.
I never thought in a million years that I would find myself in this position. I’d do absolutely anything not to be. But given our platform, it is our hope that everyone reading my story will join in our efforts, speak out and help us put an end to this aberrant behavior