Preventing Relationship Abuse and Violence
with Ojeda Hall of One Love
In the United States, nearly 20 people per minute become victims of intimate-partner violence.
Ojeda Hall, Executive Director of One Love – Maryland Region, outlines the warning signs of domestic abuse and shares how young people can build healthy, loving relationships.
January 06, 2020
Hong: Relationship violence is widespread in the United States, impacting one in three women and one in four men. And while warning signs may be apparent in hindsight, they often go unrecognized in real time. Hello. Welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Ellee Pai Hong. Advocates say that education is key to recognizing warning signs and preventing incidents of relationship violence before they have a chance to start. Ojeda Hall, Executive Director of One Love, Maryland Region, joins me to discuss efforts to combat relationship abuse in the pre-disease state. Ojeda, thanks so much for coming in. Appreciate your time today.
Hall: Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Hong: The pre-disease state, that's before things escalate into violence, and there are signs that folks can watch out for, right?
Hall: That's right. I think what we've been really excellent about doing nationally is getting in front of the problem and letting people know. If you can just know, understand, and see the 10 signs of an unhealthy relationship, then you can prevent the kind of relationship abuse that many of us will go through in a lifetime. But we want to make sure that people know you can prevent this behavior and save a life.
Hong: Yeah, in fact, 100% of us, men and women, will go through an unhealthy relationship and do unhealthy things. So this is something from --
Hall: I will do it Ellee.
Hong: Yeah. And I'm sure I have, right? Yeah.
Hong: Which is a scary statistic to think about, which is why this education is so important. In school, we learn about reading, math, science and all those things, but the number-one influencer in our life is probably relationships.
Hall: It's true, and many of us have traumatic relationships. Some of our earliest memories are of relationships that were not healthy, and so that can play out throughout life, and we can take with us certain behaviors, learned behaviors. As a matter of fact, just not have the skills to have a healthy relationship. And so, we're so excited that, nationally, we've trained 850,000 people in how to have a healthy relationship, and how to recognize and know these signs. So at least people are warned that you might be in an unhealthy relationship if you have three or more certain signs that we put together.
Hong: So let's talk about these 10 signs. What are they?
Hall: So they are intensity, jealousy, manipulation, isolation, guilting, belittling, betrayal, deflecting responsibility, and sabotage.
Hong: And when you notice things like this, one time is probably okay, but at what point, or is it okay?
Hall: Yeah, I think if you have three or more of these in a relationship, it's time to take a good look at it, have a conversation, first of all, with yourself. "Is this what I'm seeing?" Have it with other people. Have it with friends who care about you. "Is this what you're seeing in my relationship?" I mean, it's just time for us to open our mouths, be vocal, and really call in our whole community of support to make sure we're in a healthy relationship. Because unhealthy relationships affect every aspect of our lives, our jobs, our health. If you're in an unhealthy relationship, sometimes that will literally make you sick, so we've got to do the work as friends, as individuals, on ourselves to put ourselves in the best possible, in the healthiest relationships we can.
Hong: I know you started targeting college-aged kids for this education, but it's really expanded to even the middle-school age group, right?
Hall: Yeah. So excited about our work that we do in Jacksonville, actually, all over the country, but we have six hubs, one in Jacksonville, Seattle, San Francisco, Baltimore, New York, and Boston. And, yes, we've taken our content to the middle-school grades. Once we were at the college grades they said, "Oh, you have to do this in high school." And then we're in high schools and they said, "You have to do this in middle schools." So our last area to conquer is our elementary schools.
Hong: Yeah, you would think healthy relationships is a basis for everything in life.
Hall: Yeah. Our vision today is that there would be relationship health education in every K-12 curriculum across the country and really across the world. Wherever we're teaching young people how to have relationships, we need to put that in our school systems.
Hong: And you keep on talking about the pre-disease state, and this organization was founded because of a young lady who was killed by an ex-boyfriend. And the family thought, "Hey, if I knew these signs, we could have prevented this."
Hall: Yeah. She was a beautiful young woman, a lacrosse player. She was the young woman who you would say, "This would never happen to you." You'd see her in the morning, she'd say, "Good morning." She'd work out. I mean, just cheerful. And the family said, "We can't believe this happened to her." So one day, a couple of weeks before her graduation, she was killed by her ex-boyfriend at the University of Virginia. And during the trial, the family began to notice there were signs. And if we had just seen the signs, and more than that, if we knew what we were seeing at the time, we could have prevented her death. And so they didn't wait a moment. They went right into the work of creating this language, this tool kit, if you will. And then creating stories and videos so we can speak in a language that young people understand.
Hong: Because isn't true, oftentimes, men or women who are like this, you think they're just so in love that they exhibit these behaviors, but it's not love.
Hall: Well, that's one of our marketing ads, it's "That's Not Love." And really, we're in such a deep social-media age, and it's good, but it's also problematic. Sometimes our social media can tell us, "You're in a perfect relationship," and you delay getting out of it.
Hong: Right. Such great information, Ojeda. Thank you so much for coming in. Appreciate your time.
Hall: Of course.
Hong: And thank you for watching. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Ellee Pai Hong.