In the same building where the Ravens tried at times unsuccessfully to manage the fallout from the Ray Rice domestic violence incident, the team hosted a group that works to prevent such crimes from happening in the first place.
In the same building where the Ravens tried, at times unsuccessfully, to manage the fallout from the Ray Rice domestic violence incident, the team hosted a group Thursday evening that works to prevent such crimes from happening in the first place.
About 80 representatives of colleges and high schools gathered to watch a film produced by the One Love Foundation to educate students about relationship violence.
That it was shown in an auditorium at the Ravens training center in Owings Mills — where Rice and his wife, Janay, held a news conference after his arrest last year for punching her in a casino in Atlantic City — was not lost on the host.
"The building is quiet now, the season is over. … But several months ago, this building was at the center of a national discussion on domestic violence," Ravens President Dick Cass told the group. "We've learned a lot."
The team came under intense criticism for supporting Rice, cutting him only after a video emerged showing the player knocking out his then-fiancee. Since then, the Ravens have made major donations and partnered with domestic violence groups such as One Love, created in memory of Yeardley Love of Cockeysville, who was murdered in 2010 by an ex-boyfriend and fellow varsity lacrosse player at the University of Virginia.
The Ravens gave the foundation $400,000, which it plans to use to show its film, "Escalation," at colleges and high schools to help students recognize the signs of an abusive relationship and to intervene. The team also gave $600,000 to the House of Ruth.
"I don't think you ever get past the Ray Rice incident," Cass said in an interview before the event, acknowledging that it would always be a part of the team's history.
But over the course of the past year, he said, the Ravens have become "an organization that knows a lot more about domestic violence."
Cass said the team wanted to work with the One Love Foundation because of its focus on educating young people. The foundation was started by Love's mother, Sharon, who said that while it was painful to continually relive her daughter's murder, it gives her a purpose.
"It's hard because it's too late for me," Love said in an interview. "But I'm so glad we could help others."
The 30-minute film follows a college couple. The young man initially seems head-over-heels in love with a woman, but gradually turns possessive and violent. Meanwhile, their friends fail to realize the warning signs of the dangerous escalation.
The film is harrowing at times, but advocates say it is also true to life — and indeed, some of the plot turns are reminiscent of what happened to Yeardley Love at the hands of George Huguely V, who was convicted of her murder and is serving a 23-year prison sentence.
Sharon Love told the school representatives that she was just as ignorant as anyone on the subject of partner violence.
"There were signs that were apparent that we didn't recognize, she said.
She hopes that the film will help students "stand up for one another."
"When you see a red flag," she said, "you need to act on a red flag."
Audience members said they found the movie powerful and would welcome showing it on their campuses. The film is free to schools, but One Love stipulates that it can be shown only as part of a workshop in which trained facilitators lead students in a discussion about how they can intervene and help someone in an abusive relationship.
Relationship violence "absolutely" is an issue on college campuses, said Paul Moyer, the athletic director at McDaniel College in Westminster.
"It's often partnered with other problems, most often alcohol abuse," Moyer said. He envisioned using the workshop as part of preseason training for the schools' various teams.
Susan Glore, an assistant dean and director of the campus Wellness Center at McDaniel, called partner violence "a hidden part" of some relationships.
"It's not talked about," she said. "You don't know how to talk with your friends about it, so this would be a perfect segue into addressing the issue."
While One Love has conducted the workshops mostly on college campuses, students have told facilitators that they wish they had seen it while they were still in high school.
Christy Ferrens, the Upper School dean of students at St. Paul's School for Girls, said she thinks the movie's content might be "heavy and difficult to watch," but that it makes the point that friends need to speak up when they see a potentially violent relationship.
"Relationships are considered private, and the age group we serve, teenagers, are afraid of losing friends," Ferrens said. "They are prone to silencing themselves."