Sharon Love Works to Make Relationship Violence Unacceptable Behavior - IAAMsports.com
In the nearly three years since her daughter Yeardley died--a victim of relationship violence--Sharon Love has received countless letters from friends and strangers alike. The writers share anecdotes about Yeardley's compassion and sportsmanship, the type of thing every parent longs to hear about their children. Yeardley learned this behavior at home, in school and playing sports for the Lutherville Timonium Rec Council, at Notre Dame Prep and at the University of Virginia (UVA).
Sharon remembers one letter in particular from a parent of a freshman on the UVA men's lacrosse team. The father wrote simply to say how nice Yeardley had been to his son who wasn't seeing much playing time. "Yeardley told the boy to 'hang in there, that it would only get better,'" Sharon shares. "That's what makes me most proud of her."
Today, Sharon Love is channeling Yeardley's optimistic spirit into the One Love Foundation's awareness effort Be 1 For Change. The campaign, launched in late September, is targeted at 16-24 year-olds and aims to end relationship violence in the United States.
According to the National Institute of Justice, and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, one in every three women will experience relationship violence (verbal, emotional, sexual or physical abuse) in her lifetime; and one in five college females will experience some form of relationship violence during her college career.
Sharon, who is stunned by the statistics and deeply empathetic toward relationship violence victims is pouring all her energy into the Be 1 for Change campaign "I have a voice now and I had better use it," she says.
Be One for Change
The goal of the Be 1 for Change campaign is to educate, create awareness and provide resources for the high-risk group. The first phase of the campaign draws attention to the issue of relationship violence through a public service announcement (PSA) and the use of a free, anonymous, downloadable Danger Assessment app for use on smart phones. Both tools appeal to and are easily navigated by the young, target demographic. The PSA, which can be difficult to watch, encourages people--friends, parents, teammates, and coaches--to speak up and not make excuses for violent behavior.
The companion to the PSA, the mobile Danger Assessment application or app, was designed to be a positive, proactive and empowering experience, and also includes resources to help victims escape. The assessment, which may also be accessed via the One Love website, offers a series of questions not only for the victim, but also for friends and family, sometimes considered bystanders, who suspect abuse and are unsure of how to help. Developed in conjunction with experts from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, the Danger Assessment app includes a unique feature in that after the brief questionnaire is complete, it automatically removes itself from the mobile device for the protection of victims, whose abusers often scrutinize their phones.
Sharon recommends that everyone take the Danger Assessment even if they are not in a relationship. "It will help give you a clue if later you happen to come across the characteristics. You'll know early on to avoid the relationship," she says. "If you are already in a situation it's probably a lot harder to get out than it is to stop it before it happens."
She continues, "Embedded in everything we do is trying to change attitudes about relationship violence--to make it unacceptable." She feels strongly that getting involved is something simple that anyone can do, not only in terms of speaking up, but also in terms of creating awareness about the problem and sharing the Danger Assessment app.
Drawing upon Yeardley's positive nature, Sharon looks forward with hope, "I think respectful behavior is an integral part of ending relationship violence. If people respect themselves and respect others, they won't act out, and will probably live a much happier life."