How Pain Becomes Hope

By Catherine Barthelme Miller ’06

New C&Y
Catherine (left) with Yeardley

I have no shame in admitting that I get butterflies every time I turn into the Notre Dame Prep driveway. Nine years later, the “Happy Birthday” signs, Gym Meet class color adorning cars, and the beautiful campus still hold a very special place in my heart. All NDP girls love coming back to the place we called home, but for me the significance remains especially strong because 815 Hampton Lane was where I spent seven years with my best friend, Yeardley Love.

YeardleyFive years ago, Yeardley, a former Virginia women’s lacrosse player, was killed by her ex-boyfriend. It is crazy and sad to think that Yeardley has been gone for almost five years, but I constantly remind myself of the remarkable work that is happening in her memory. The One Love Foundation has come a long way from the early days of Mrs. Sharon Love, Yeardley’s sister Lexie, other family members, and friends banding together with a determination to turn a terrible situation into an opportunity to do something positive.

EscalationLast month, the senior class at NDP joined the One Love movement by participating in a workshop featuring “Escalation,” a film created by One Love to promote awareness and dialogue about relationship violence. I am so honored to have taken part in the workshop. I introduced myself to the girls, told them about my friendship with Yeardley, and let them know that I would be stopping in to their homeroom discussion groups after the film to listen and answer any specific questions.

violenceThe girls completely blew me away from start to finish of the workshop. They took the experience very seriously, paying close attention to the film, independently reflecting on what they saw, and participating in a meaningful, honest discussion with their homerooms. I was in awe at their ability to articulate thoughtful comments, questions, inferences, and conclusions about such a sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable topic. I was particularly impressed by the girls’ ability to think about relationship violence on a broad level, not only speaking about their perspective as young, educated women, but also what the implications are for boys, men, parents, and mentors.

empowermentI told the girls that I do not think I ever said the words “relationship violence” or “domestic violence” before losing Yeardley to this horrific epidemic. The fact that they will head to college next year armed with this critical information gives me hope that one day the staggering relationship violence statistics will be nonexistent.

If the NDP Class of 2015 is at all representative of their generation, the One Love movement can and will become a reality. I am certain that these young women will become positive role models and leaders throughout the world. One Love!

Change

Catherine Barthelme Miller currently teaches high school English in Baltimore City. She regularly volunteers with the One Love Foundation by attending sponsored events, running in races, and supporting the amazing work of Sharon and Lexie Love.

 

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