On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 26, Willamette University’s men’s and women’s swim teams cut their practice short to attend the One Love Training, led by Lacrosse Assistant Coach Annie Longtain. The One Love Training covered topics ranging from unhealthy relationships to domestic violence. A handout was given out with resources, both local and national, for anyone to use when navigating a friend, a loved one or themselves out of an unsafe situation. It was announced before the training started that if anyone needed to leave or put their head down to disengage with the training, they could. Both swim Head Coach Brent Summers and swim Assistant Coach Erin McVeigh were at the training and made sure that if any athlete was unable to stay in the training, they were not alone when leaving.
The training started with a short film made by the One Love Foundation that follows the escalation of an unhealthy relationship. One Love is a non-profit advocacy organization that was founded after the death of Yeardley Love. Love was a lacrosse player for the University of Virginia just three weeks away from graduation when her boyfriend took her life. After this, her parents and sister created the One Love Foundation to help teach prevention techniques for domestic violence and to educate both students and athletes on what healthy relationships look like. They have a large focus on student-athletes but their foundation has reached almost 200 thousand young adults with their workshops, according to an American Psychological Association Children, Youth and Families (CYF) press release. More information on this foundation and its resources can be found at www.joinonelove.org.
After the short film was over, Longtain led the swimmers through 15 questions trying to pinpoint unhealthy behaviors displayed in the film and encouraged discussion on what an intervention could have looked like. Junior mid-distance freestyler Claire Alongi said the following in a post-training interview: “The video was hard to watch because it felt very real. I think what really made it successful was the discussion afterward. Picking apart the video was still hard, but I think really analyzing the choices of all the characters involved showcased how insidious and creeping domestic violence can be. A lot of people brought up what they would do in that situation, either as a bystander or as someone being abused, but noted that what they hoped they would do and what they would actually do might be very different things. It’s one thing to sit in a room and watch a video and a whole other thing to find yourself or someone you care about in that situation. We were all pretty emotionally drained afterward, but I really think it was worth it because domestic violence isn’t as uncommon as some people might think. It’s so important to know the warning signs for yourself and the people around you.”
A large part of the discussion focused on prevention so that situations would not have to get to the point where intervention seems like an impossible task. Focusing on how the team could help each other and their peers is important to McVeigh: “You have to have conversations around [domestic violence] because most people don’t. It is important because to teach how you can help save people, to recognize signs and symptoms [helps] to better themselves and their friends. Talking about and recognizing the signs is the first step to helping others.”