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One Love Foundation's New App Helps Combat Relationship Violence

February 17, 2014

The One Love Foundation is working to end relationship violence to honor the memory of Yeardley Love, a Cockeysville native who played lacrosse at the University of Virginia and was a two-sport standout at Notre Dame Preparatory School.

Issue 194: Yeardley Love
Photo Credit: Courtesy of U.Va. Athletics

In August 2012, George Huguely V was sentenced to 23 years in prison for the murder of Yeardley Love, his ex-girlfriend, at her off-campus apartment. Huguely also played lacrosse at the University of Virginia -- he and Yeardley Love were both seniors in 2010.

The impact of Yeardley Love's murder and the trial that followed were felt around the Baltimore community. Sharon Love and her daughter Lexie established the One Love Foundation in 2010.

Since its inception, the One Love Foundation has worked on numerous projects to help end relationship violence through education and technology. The most recent undertaking resulted in the release of the My Plan mobile app, which launched Jan. 14. The app followed the release of the One Love Danger Assessment app, which was introduced in 2012.

Issue 194: One Love App (promo image only)

The app, developed by Nancy Glass and her team at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, works as a decision aid for victims of violent relationships. It helps them determine whether their relationship is unsafe, and then helps victims develop a plan for how to get help, or, if necessary, how to safely end the relationship.

"The app determines what kinds of safety strategies would be best for them to use, and that's based on their level of danger," said Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor at the John Hopkins University School of Nursing who worked on the app. "It allows women to make choices about what they want to do … based on how dangerous the abuser is. If he is very dangerous, the app helps her see that and then gives her some options."

The best thing about the app, Campbell said, is that it takes into account both the dangerousness of the abuser, and what the victim wants from the relationship. With that information, the app helps develop a safe course of action.

The app also encourages what Sandusky referred to as bystander intervention, which means that a friend or a parent can use the app to help determine whether a loved one is in need of help.

"We really encourage bystander intervention," Sandusky said. "When you are in a situation, sometimes you don't realize it. You think: 'This is love. That's why he is texting me 100 times a day and wants to know where I am.' A friend would look at it and see that it isn't a healthy relationship.

"Bystander interventions are how we feel we can make a real cultural change. If people learn about the signs, then they can step in and make a difference."

Campbell said both she and Glass were eager to get involved in the development of the app because they felt it was something that would have a direct ability to help college-age women.

"Both Nancy and I knew about Yeardley Love's case," Campbell said, "and we felt like if young women like Yeardley had an app to go to, then they might be more inclined to do something like that than they would be to access more traditional domestic violence services. We were both thrilled to be a part of that. If we can get [this information] in an app format, that's something college-age women and beyond would be more likely to access and want to access."

The My Plan app for both iPhones and Androids is available at joinonelove.org.

Issue 194: February 2014