KOKOMO, Ind.The same skills used to build healthy friendships translate into healthy romantic relationships later.
That was the message the One Love Foundation brought to Indiana University Kokomo as part of its outreach efforts for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Emily Lloyd, engagement manager for the foundation, showed video content and walked the audience through the 10 signs of a healthy relationship. She also discussed how to help a friend in an unhealthy relationship.
The key, she said, is to learn to recognize the signs of a healthy relationship, as well as the warning signs of one that is unhealthy. She also challenged people to look for their own unhealthy behavior, and make changes.
“There’s a stigma about what we think domestic violence is, and the way we talk about it makes it seem like it’s a really far off, scary thing, that we have no relationship to,” she said. “When you break it down, domestic violence is not something that affects people from far away. In reality, 100 percent of us do unhealthy things in our relationships, but that doesn’t make us bad people or abusive people. The message is that we can learn to recognize unhealthy behavior, and shift to healthy behavior.”
The lesson can start early, with learning to be a friend.
“At the base of it, the behaviors are the same,” she said. “If we learn healthy friend relationships at a young age, those same skills build healthy romantic relationships.”
Lloyd noted that all of the videos she showed are available on the One Love Foundation’s website, joinonelove.org. She encouraged parents, teachers, and others who work with young people to view and use the resources offered.
“I am really passionate about this message, of starting the conversation about healthy and unhealthy before anything is close to abusive,” she said. “This is the way to create change. You don’t have to wait until you are worried about a friend, or your own relationship. It’s something every one of us can work on every day, to love the people in our lives better.”
Freshman Mikayla Tom helped promote the event as chairperson of the Student Athletic and Wellness Board, and said the message is an important one for college-age students, as they make new friends and form relationships.
“I’ve learned that the friends I make in college are the ones that will last the longest,” the Carmel resident said. “As I’ve started to meet new people and make new friends, I realized how toxic some of my earlier friendships were, and learned how not to make those kinds of friendships again, because it truly does affect you as a person.”
IU Kokomo uses the One Love Foundation’s materials in its outreach efforts and in orientation for all student athletes. Elizabeth Barnett, campus director of counseling and psychological services, appreciates the sponsorship of Four County Counseling Center to allow for a live presentation.
In addition to the talk, students led activities at a women’s soccer game and volleyball game, to have multiple venues to share the information.
“We wanted to bring awareness to the foundation, and to being aware of healthy relationships,” Barnett said. “One Love is the perfect foundation to tie it all together.”
College is a crucial time to hear this message, she said.
“They’re reaching a point in time when they are starting relationships and making new friends,” she said. “It helps you recognize signs not just for yourself, but to help friends when you see they are experiencing signs of unhealthy relationships. It works on so many levels.”
The One Love Foundation was founded by the family of Yeardley Love, a University of Virginia lacrosse player who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2010. Its mission is to empower young people with the knowledge to identify and avoid abusive relationships.
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.