While coaches and staff were gearing up last week in Arizona to coach the 2015 Pro Bowl, the Ravens hosted a team meeting of a different kind at the Under Armour Performance Center.
One Love, a foundation whose goal is to end relationship violence, screened its film "Escalation" in the Ravens auditorium to more than 80 representatives from Maryland colleges and high schools with hopes that they would welcome the idea of showing it to their student bodies.
Sharon Love started the foundation in honor of her daughter, Yeardley, who in 2010 was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. Love said she hopes the film will allow others to recognize the red flags in relationship violence and help students to "stand up for one another."
"We partnered with the House of Ruth back in August … and we also wanted to look for a partner involved in educating young people about the dangers of relationship violence," explained Ravens President Dick Cass. "We are all tremendously impressed by the movie, by the message they are promoting in the movie and we just thought this was the right partner for us here in Maryland."
In December 2014, the Ravens entered into a two-year partnership and will donate $400,000 to the One Love Foundation to further enable the group to screen "Escalation" and conduct workshops to educate young people throughout the state of Maryland.
I had the opportunity to view "Escalation" months prior to the recent screening while we as a team were deciding if a partnership with One Love Foundation was going to be the next appropriate step. Watching it for the second time, I was still left feeling alarmed, emotional and speechless. For me, the 38-minute film, which follows the tumultuous relationship of a college couple, sets you up for what I believe to be the most powerful part: the ending after the ending, when you are no longer watching a produced film, but rather faced with reality.
Like a deck of cards, the photos of victims from relationship violence – of all races, genders and ages – flash on the screen one by one, giving you the names of the individuals along with their birth and death dates. After watching the film, the despair I felt left me compelled to research some of the names of the victims. I wanted to know their story and understand better what relationship violence looks and sounds like.
"Escalation" was created to be the conversation starter, the catalyst needed among youth to help them realize the seriousness of this issue as well as recognize many warning signs that often go unrecognized or accepted as a "normal part of some relationships." The film, shown in part as a workshop, also takes the critical next step by giving youth the tools to "trust their gut," as One Love CEO Katie Higgins Hood explained, when determining if and how one should intervene in what they believe to be signs of relationship violence.
For more information about One Love Foundation, please visit www.joinonelove.org.