Bill proposes National One Love Day to bring awareness to dating violence

U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger joined the family of slain University of Virginia lacrosse player and Cockeysville native Yeardley Love and Towson University officials Tuesday morning to announce a House of Representatives bill that would make May 3, the anniversary of Love's death, National One Love Day for relationship violence awareness.

"May 3 was the worst day of our lives, for both Lexie and me," Yeardley's mother, Sharon Love, said Tuesday at a press conference Tuesday at Towson University's Unitas Stadium. "I lost my precious daughter, Yeardley, and Lexie lost her sister and best friend to relationship violence. If May 3 is memorialized, it will help to spare other families and friends of this devastating loss we have had to endure."

Yeardley Love was weeks from graduation at the University of Virginia in May 2010 when her ex-boyfriend, George Huguely, attacked and killed her in her off-campus apartment. Huguely was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Since Yeardley Love's death, her mother and older sister have worked tirelessly with the One Love Foundation, which they created in Yeardley's honor and which aims to end relationship violence.

In September 2012, Love's alma mater, Notre Dame Prepratory School in Towson, unveiled a new turf field at the school that was funded by donations to both the school and the foundation. Through its "Be One For Change" campaign, which began in fall 2012, the foundation has also created a smartphone app that high school and college students can use to assess relationship violence, as well as filmed public service announcements.

Ruppersberger said during Tuesday's event that Sharon Love visited him in Washington just under a year ago and asked for his support for National One Love Day.

"I was floored to learn just how pervasive this challenge is," Ruppersberger said, citing statistics that say two million people are assaulted by an intimate partner each year and that one in three female homicide victims is killed by a husband, ex-husband or boyfriend.

"When Sharon asked me, as her congressman, to introduce National One Love Day each May 3 to raise awareness of this topic, I didn't hesitate to get involved," Ruppersberger said.

Ruppersberger said he introduced the bill, which he called "common sense legislation" and is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, on Friday.

"Valentine's Day, we felt, was a perfect opportunity to bring up a subject that too often gets swept under the rug, and that is the issue of relationship violence," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the university, Towson University's Vice President of Student Affairs, Deb Moriarty, said the school "takes this work very seriously." She touted the myriad of peer and professional counseling services made available to students and the importance of getting students involved in education about issues like relationship violence.

"Whether it's a victim or victimizer, I think there's education that we can share with lots and lots of people, and we can make a difference," Moriarty said. "So I think that this bill ... and having a day that focuses on this, will give us in the university world a real platform for making a difference."

Moriarty also commended the Love family on their strength to make such a positive difference in the lives of others.

"As a mother of a college student, I just can't imagine the strength that [Sharon Love] possesses, her and her daughter, Lexie, to come forward and make something good of the terrible tragedy that befell their daughter and their family."

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