On May 3, 2010, I woke up to learn that my beloved cousin, Yeardley, had been assaulted by her ex-boyfriend in her apartment and was dead. Shock, anger, and confusion followed. How could anyone hurt Yeardley? She was one of the nicest and most genuine people I knew. How could this happen in her own apartment? The answer was devastating; her ex-boyfriend had broken down her door and beaten her to death. On the cusp of graduating from UVA, with her whole life ahead of her, Yeardley was gone.
Since that horrible day, I have learned that relationship violence is an epidemic impacting 1 in 3 women in the U.S. during their lifetimes. No group is more likely to experience relationship violence than young women aged 16-24. While not all of these relationships end in physical abuse or even death, the damage of all forms of relationship violence is far reaching and it must be stopped. Today, the One Love Foundation – which we started to honor Yeardley – works to change these statistics by educating, empowering and activating young people in a movement for change.
To some degree, I believe all of us who loved her are still in shock because it is too hard to comprehend what happened to our “Yards.” The stark reality is that time marches on, despite our wishes to go back and change what happened. Yeardley’s friends are now in their late twenties, coming into their own with their careers and their lives. They are amazingly supportive of One Love in many different ways. Yeardley would have become an aunt in short order, and we know that she will be smiling down upon Lexie as she has her first baby. Yeardley is ever present in our lives, even though her absence is sometimes overwhelming.
One of the many bonds that Yeardley and I shared was a love of sports, and specifically, lacrosse. We both loved being part of a team – a special opportunity to work together towards a common goal bigger than oneself. Yeardley was the consummate team player, giving all that she had to make the team better, while never seeking attention or accolades. She epitomized a true teammate: hardworking and humble; she was always the first person to compliment others.
Yeardley’s spirit lives on as we build Team One Love. In just a year, 8,000 student leaders have joined Team One Love in their campus communities, helping to create a movement focused on building a world without relationship violence – a world in which people are kinder to one another and stand up for what is right. This team has a goal that is much more significant than any athletic contest. Please join Yeardley’s team – the One Love team – by supporting the movement and encouraging your friends to do so, too.
Today, in Yeardley’s honor, we celebrate her life and ask you to do the same. In participating in our first One Love Giving Day, you will honor Yeardley and join the team that is working together for a future where relationship violence does not exist.
Join us now: www.joinonelove.org/givingday. We need you – the student, coach, teacher, parent, citizen – we need everyone to participate. No donation is too small and every contribution is incredibly appreciated.
-Sharon Robinson, Yeardley’s cousin
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