Women's Center Targets Relationship Violence in Latest Prevention Program

This semester, the Women’s Center at Boston College will be instituting the BC chapter of One Love, a nationwide program regarding relationship violence.

One Love was founded in 2010 in honor of Yeardley Love, a senior at the University of Virginia who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend. Focused on raising awareness about relationship violence and teaching its audience how to step in and help end abuse around them, One Love aims to eradicate relationship violence for good. The presentation, given by trained BC students through the Women’s Center, consists of a 40-minute movie depicting an abusive collegiate relationship followed by a facilitated discussion.

The campaign was brought to BC through Bystander Intervention, a Women’s Center program that focuses on preventing sexual assault on campus. Earlier in 2015, a One Love advocate came to speak to Bystander presenters as part of their training. Afterward several Bystander presenters thought it would be a good program to bring to BC. One Love trained the five interested Bystander facilitators at the beginning of the current semester and they plan to start presentations in late October. 

One Love facilitator Natalie Dolphin, MCAS ’16, explained that the program is going to debut to a specific type of group first. “We’re going to start with groups that are close-knit communities in order to have that support in the initial presentations,” she said.

SANKOFA, an all-male leadership program on campus, will be the first group to participate, something that Dolphin believes is an exciting idea. “It sets a really good standard… Our first group is a men’s formation group, which is cool,” she said.

Erin Doolin, LSOE '17 and a graduate assistant at the Women's Center, says that facilitators had a good foundation for learning One Love’s material because the similarities between Bystander and One Love “are pretty uncanny… they both involve how to be an active bystander.”

Dolphin stressed the importance Bystander had in helping her with One Love. “We have a basic level of training from Bystander… If someone is triggered by the material, [we’ll know] how to support them, how to make sure they feel very safe and comfortable and know their resources, but don’t feel pressured to take any one course of action.”

However, there are differences between the two programs. One Love focuses more on navigating the abuse that occurs in what Dolphin calls “sustained relationships,” where violence can occur between the same two people for a long period of time.

When asked what they hope students get out of One Love, Doolin said, “A feeling of empowerment; that they can support their loved ones, and intervene in situations that they’re seeing red flags in, and also that they can feel empowered in their own relationships to not stand to be treated that way.”

Dolphin quoted a phrase she had learned from her training. “If a relationship is healthy 95 percent of the time and unhealthy 5 percent of the time, you deserve that 100 percent. I find that really empowering. When I leave the presentation, this makes me want it for myself, for my friends, and for everyone,” she said.

To request a One Love presentation, students can access the Women’s Center page on the Boston College website and click on the Bystander Intervention tab, then One Love Workshop.