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ADVICE ON NAVIGATING UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS & MORE FROM ONE LOVE FOUNDATION'S VICE CHAIRMAN, SHARON ROBINSON

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We at Social Sunday have taken the initiative to spread kindness and  give back to our community as often as we can—so the collaboration between us and One Love Foundation was the perfect match. Our founder, Sam Sisca, was introduced to the women behind One Love, and the very next day she attended the organizations' annual charity event. We believe it's crucial to educate young people on the signs of unhealthy relationships and catch them before they are in a life-threatening situation. 
     
The organization was started after Yeardley Love was tragically killed by her ex-boyfriend. One Love was founded in memory of her, and aims to spread the word about healthy versus unhealthy relationships, in hopes of preventing other deaths as a result of abusive relationships. We spoke with Sharon Robinson, Yeardley's cousin and the Vice Chairman of One Love, about her involvement in the organization and her tips for navigating unhealthy relationships.
  

  
Not only are you the Vice Chairman of One Love, but you're also Yeardley's cousin. How did your family's dynamic change after the tragedy, and how did you all decide to turn it around into something positive that could help others?
 Yeardley was such a special person, and her fun-loving and kind personality attracted everyone to her. She was very dear to our whole extended family, and we were in shock when she died. We started One Love soon after her death, but it took another two years after the trial took place to dedicate the mission to ending relationship violence. At the time, we really didn’t know how prevalent relationship violence is and so it was very hard to understand that Yeardley was a victim of such horror. Once we learned the facts and understood the warning signs that we missed, we knew we could honor her best by helping others avoid the same fate. From the beginning, Sharon Love (her mom) has always focused on the positive; that is natural for her because Yeardley was always so positive, so we want to honor her in a way that reflects her personality.
     
Was One Love your first venture into the non-profit space, or did you have previous experience?
I had no prior non-profit experience before we started One Love. Thankfully, we sought guidance from several others, including our CEO and my close friend, Katie Hood, who was CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation at the time. She was an advisor to us from the start, and we are so incredibly fortunate to have her as our CEO since 2014. I had worked in finance, and then went into coaching; and Sharon Love was a teacher and translator for deaf students.  
  
What advice do you have for people who feel like they are trapped in an abusive relationship?
 There are many people out there in unhealthy relationships, and the first step is to recognize and acknowledge the unhealthy behaviors that are happening, whether it be emotional and verbal abuse, physical abuse or sexual abuse. Once your eyes are open to these unhealthy behaviors, you can seek help by talking to a friend, a counselor, or in cases of extreme danger, law enforcement before it escalates into a more serious situation. Abusive relationships are extremely difficult to navigate and asking for help can be intimidating. Know that you are not alone; know that there is no shame in being on the receiving end of unhealthy behaviors; and know that you can get help. The time of break-up is often the most dangerous so create a safety plan as needed. If you believe that you are in danger, trust your gut and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If immediate assistance is necessary, visit our real-time resources at joinonelove.org/get-help. Everyone deserves a healthy relationship!
   
 What advice do you give to people who are witnesses to abusive relationships, but not in them? How can they help in a safe way?
The best advice is to start a conversation with your friend and ask in a non-judgmental way how they are feeling about their relationship. Don’t presume all is great based on social media feeds. It often takes time for a victim to open up, but by opening the lines of communication and being specific about the unhealthy behaviors you are concerned about (belittling, anger, jealousy, sabotage, etc.), your friend may choose to seek help. Be patient and non-judgmental and allow your friend to maintain control of the situation. There are hotlines to call if you want to learn more, and on campuses resources that can connect you with counseling service that are available to help. It can be hard to start the conversation, but it is worthwhile to help a friend.
   
How can people get involved with One Love in their own communities, or even just from home?
 There are so many ways to get involved with One Love! We would love to bring our educational programs to your community and we rely on trained volunteers to facilitate these discussions. We are growing very fast and rely on donations and community fundraisers to accelerate our reach into more communities. You can support us by sharing our content on social media or wearing One Love gear. Check out joineonelove.org to learn more about starting a conversation about healthy and unhealthy relationships with your friends and family. Please join our movement!  
    
Check out the One Love website HERE and shop our limited edition One Love collection (50% of sales are donated to One Love!) HERE.

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