One Love tells the story of relationship violence

Using a series of powerful videos, workshops, and social campaigns, One Love empowers young people to recognize abusive relationships and take action early on.

By Jane St. John

One Love takes its name from the story of Yeardley Love, a college senior who was tragically beaten to death by an ex- boyfriend a few weeks before her graduation from the University of Virginia. When Yeardley’s mother, Sharon Love, founded the One Love organization in her memory, she aimed to “do for relationship abuse what Mothers Against Drunk Driving did for driving while intoxicated”—to empower young people to recognize warning signs in their own lives and take action before it's too late. An important step was to tackle the language itself, reframing “domestic violence”—a phrase today’s college students might not relate directly to their own relationships—as “relationship abuse.”

Over the last year, One Love has seen extraordinary success with video and digital storytelling, including their Escalation Workshop, a 90-minute video screening and peer-facilitated discussion held at high schools and colleges, meant to resonate with young women’s and men’s experiences and dramatize how relationships can escalate into abuse. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, One Love challenged young people to host Escalation Workshops on their own campuses, resulting in a record-breaking 302 workshops with 12,679 participants. 

To spread the message more widely online, they created #ThatsNotLove, a series of shareable videos helping young people to draw real-life distinctions between healthy expressions of love and abusive, controlling behavior. Connecting the dots between these initiatives is NationBuilder, which April Wright and the One Love team use to amplify their stories and make the most of their start-up-style operation.

“When we approached this website,” Wright says, “we knew we wanted to be able to properly message, pull data, be able to identify trends, see what’s happening naturally on social media, then be able to leverage those things. NationBuilder gives you a baseline of all the components you need to build a brand, build a movement.” 

Images courtesy of One Love
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