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Nonprofit View: Carroll FCS partnering with One Love Foundation to raise awareness of relationship violence

Relationship violence is a pattern of behavior in an intimate relationship that is used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation.

Relationship violence is impacting more adolescent relationships than ever before.

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National statistics show that nearly 50 percent of women and 40 percent of men report experiencing relationship violence for the first time between the ages of 18 to 24. Young women between ages of 16 and 24 are three times more likely to be abused than any other age group.

Family and Children's Services (FCS) recognizes the need for awareness and education when it comes to dating violence. We also understand the importance of demonstrating what constitutes a healthy relationship. That is a major of the reason why, this fall, FCS signed a formal partnership with the One Love Foundation. The goal is to have FCS and One Love collaborate on awareness and educational programming for high school and college students in Carroll County.

You've probably heard of One Love, or are at least familiar with the story behind its existence. The foundation was created in 2010 to honor the memory of Yeardley Love, a senior student-athlete at the University of Virginia, who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend just weeks before graduation. After Yeardley's tragic death, her family took a vested interest in protecting other young women and men from this same fate.

Becoming aware of the national statistics like the ones I highlighted above are a start, but through a proactive approach, much more can be done.

One Love offers a 90-minute program featuring a video that exemplifies unhealthy dating violence relationships. The video is followed by peer-led discussion groups among students. One Love also provides valuable online tools for young adults. The organization has created an app that prompts the user with questions to determine whether or not their relationship is dangerous. The questions used in the app are based off of the lethality assessment FCS uses in conjunction with local law enforcement to screen high-danger domestic violence cases. Simply put, these questions have saved the lives of individuals who are experiencing violence in their relationship.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Every year, at this time, FCS engages our community members by holding awareness events at McDaniel College, displaying t-shirts at local library branches and encouraging conversations about what is domestic violence and who is affected. We aim to be a presence — and it's a presence we firmly want to grow.

FCS understands that it is not enough to just intervene. Many times, by this point, so much of the damage is done. We're striving to create awareness so that we may prevent our children from relationships that are based in violence. I welcome all of you to join me in our efforts this October. Attend at least one FCS awareness event (fcsmd.org). Go to One Love's website (joinonelove.org) to learn more about relationship violence. Through a collective effort in our community, we can make a positive impact.

Kelley A. Rainey is director of Domestic Violence Services for Family and Children's Service. Reach her at krainey@fcsmd.org.

Nonprofit View

Each Monday, the Carroll County Times will publish a column from a local nonprofit, allowing it to share information about its organization and the issues facing it. To be considered, email cctnews@carrollcountytimes.com with the subject line "Nonprofit View."

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