Five years ago, on May 3, 2010, my daughter, Yeardley Love, was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend just three weeks before their graduation from UVA. Early that morning I awoke to policemen at my front door and from that moment, the life I knew was over. It was incomprehensible to me that someone I knew, someone that Yeardley cared for, had taken her life.
Yeardley’s life held so much promise. She touched the world in such a kind and gentle way during her brief time here. My family vowed to keep Yeardley’s memory alive, and continue her good works through our efforts. In order to do this we created the Yeardley Reynolds Love Foundation, better known as One Love (One her lacrosse jersey number, and Love her last name.)
I knew nothing about relationship violence and was shocked to learn that 1 in 3 women will experience some form of abuse during their lifetime. Even more disturbing, young women ages 16-24 are at three times greater risk of being involved in a violent relationship. Had any of us known about the warning signs that too often lead to violence, actions might have been taken to save Yeardley’s life. I realized then that our efforts would be best spent facing relationship violence head on, putting an end to it once and for all. Because given the statistics, whether you realize it or not, someone you know has been touched by relationship violence. The truth is, our tragedy isn’t just Yeardley’s story. It’s everyone’s story.
Today One Love is focused on making sure others have access to the information we did not. Our Escalation workshop is educating thousands of students around the country about the warning signs, and empowering them to work for change in their campus communities. One student at a time, one campus at a time – this, we believe, is how we will ultimately change the statistics.
Student response to the workshop has been overwhelmingly positive. During our initial testing in the fall of 2014, nearly 100% of participants said they would recommend the workshop to a friend, and 90% suggested Escalation be required viewing for all college students. In just the first four months of national rollout, we are planning or holding Escalation workshops at 150 colleges and nearly 70 high schools. I am thrilled that so many campus communities are inspired and motivated by this work.
Five years have passed, and I will continue to be eternally grateful to the many who have worked so hard and dedicated their time and efforts to help One Love reach its goals. You are the ones who gave us the strength to keep going and who have helped us believe that our vision for change is attainable. And to those not yet involved: please join us. A story that affects everyone means it’s a cause with room for every one. Go to www.joinonelove.org to learn how you can be part of this movement.
With gratitude and hope,