Episode 44: Katie Hood, One Love Foundation
Katie Hood, CEO
One Love Foundation
Katie Hood, CEO, speaks about her organization, One Love Foundation, the nation’s leading educator of young people on the topic of healthy and unhealthy relationships, as both a primary prevention strategy for relationship abuse and as an investment in the relationship health of the next generation.
Katie Hood is Chief Executive Officer of the One Love Foundation, a position she has held since 2014. Under her leadership, the organization has become the nation’s leading educator of young people on the topic of healthy and unhealthy relationships, as both a primary prevention strategy for relationship abuse and as an investment in the relationship health of the next generation. One Love’s award-winning film-based, peer-to-peer educational workshops have reached over 1.1 million young people in-person and over 100 million have engaged with One Love’s educational campaigns online.
Intro Voices 0:05
Where do I go? It only happened once. I think I was singled out. The phone calls began about one month ago. What is hazing? Something happened to me when I was younger. I'm worried about my safety. He said he was sorry. Can someone help me? Where can I get help? Can someone help me?
Intro Voices 0:31
This is “You Matter”, a podcast for the NYU community developed by the Department of Public Safety.
Karen Ortman 00:36
Hi, everyone, and welcome back to You Matter, a podcast created to teach, inspire and motivate members of the NYU community who have been victimized in some form or fashion, and to identify resources both on and off campus that can help. I am your host Karen Ortman, Associate Vice President of Campus Safety Operations at the Department of Public Safety and a retired law enforcement professional. Today, I welcome Katie Hood, Chief Executive Officer of One Law Foundation, the nation's leading educator of young people on the topic of healthy and unhealthy relationships, as both a primary prevention strategy for relationship abuse and as an investment in the relationship health of the next generation. Katie, a passionate and dynamic speaker is frequently quoted as an expert on dating violence and healthy relationships and national media outlets from ABC News to Teen Vogue. Katie, welcome to You Matter.
Katie Hood 01:35
Karen, thank you so much. I'm so glad to be here.
Karen Ortman 01:37
Oh, pleasure is all mine. So what is the background of One Love Foundation? How did it begin?
Kaite Hood 01:46
One Love was started in 2010, after a young woman named Yardley Love was beaten to death by her ex boyfriend at the University of Virginia. She was a senior, she was about to graduate, a few weeks away from graduation, and had recently broken up for good with her ex boyfriend. He killed her and basically her family - so, I the way I got involved, which is not really your question, but I got involved because Yardley's cousin is one of my best friends. So the day that it happened, I got the call that said you need to go to Sharon's house because her cousin's been killed. I always tell that part of the story because walking in that morning and hearing the news, you know, he broke down the door and he beat her to death. What was very clear to me is, besides the fact that I had never really thought this was an issue that was relevant to me, I now realize it's sort of foolish, it's relevant to all of us, right? It was also very clear that no one in Yardsley's life really understood the risk that she was in. I think when we see these stories in the news, we figure somebody must have known something right, somebody must have seen something. But in this case, this really came out of left field.
Karen Ortman 02:53
Well, that's what I'm going to ask you. Why did this come out of left field? Did anybody observe any sort of red flags regarding this relationship, or it sounds like the relationship was over. And then, you know, he came back and killed her.
Katie Hood 03:16
What her family realized as time passed, is that if a domestic violence expert had been dropped into the middle of their friend group, they would have easily been able to identify the warning signs that she was in an unhealthy, abusive and increasingly dangerous relationship. But because none of her friends or she had been taught about the warning signs and nobody saw the full picture, nobody was was seeing the whole thing. So One Love was really created to solve that specific problem that young people, young women are at greater risk to be in an abusive relationship but they don't necessarily even know what it means. And they call it different things. So One Love exists to try to eliminate the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors, so that people; men and women can spot the signs and get out before it becomes abuse.
Karen Ortman 04:01
And that is the importance of a conversation like this. Because I agree with you, I was in law enforcement for a very long time, and was witness to many cases where the outcome was non predictable, until you went back and sort of analyzed the progression of events. And then people are left thinking there were warning signs, you know, how did I not see this coming?
Katie Hood 04:34
Yeah, I think that when we think about the topics of abuse and violence, all of us want to distance ourselves from those topics. So even when we're in it, we call the things different things or we make excuses for things along the way versus seeing the pattern.
Karen Ortman 04:50
Yeah, very easy to minimize it.
Katie Hood 04:53
Very easy, I think we really minimize the significance of emotional abuse. Most abuse is very normalized, you know, things like volatility or intensity or manipulation, we excuse away versus seeing them as patterns that indicate that we're in a very troubling situation. In your base case, I think generally, how most of their relationship what people would have seen is the emotionally abusive things, but they would have called them different things like drama, or too much drinking instead of recognizing that the stakes are getting higher. I mean, the other thing, I think, the last thing I'd say is at the time of breakup is the most dangerous time. Yes, and just simply sharing that information with young people or in Yardsly's case with her, she could have taken precautions to make sure she wasn't alone that night, right? Or that people knew that she needed protection or whatever it might have been. So what we're trying to do is just get this information, which we think is highly teachable, to young people so that they can so we can avoid outcomes like what Yardley and her family experienced.
Karen Ortman 05:56
Sure. So what are the statistics regarding abusive relationships? Is it on the rise? Are we hearing and educating about it more and therefore hearing about it more? Put it sort of in perspective? No, no, put it put it in perspective, if you can.
Katie Hood 06:14
Sure. So the stats around the abuse are that one in three women, one in four men and one in two transgender or non binary folks will be in an abusive relationship in their lifetime. That shows that this is not something that happens to someone else, somewhere else. This is something that's happening to people right in our universe, it's something all of us have a connection to around abuse. Iin particular, young women aged 16 to 24 are at three times greater risk than any other demographic for being in an abusive relationship and they don't really realize that. And on top of that, the statistics show that if you are in abusive relationship in your teens, you have a far greater likelihood of going on to other abusive relationships. When you ask if it's on the rise, I don't think we have data that shows that it's on the rise - except during COVID it was on the rise. We were seeing around the globe that COVID and quarantine were a recipe for disaster for people in abusive relationships and that numbers really did spike during that time.
Karen Ortman 07:17
Yeah, that was very well documented as being the case. So how do these abusive patterns begin in a relationship? And how young have you seen it begin?
Katie Hood 07:31
Well, if you follow the pattern, I think one of the things that the Love family realized pretty early on in that research that was done by Jackie Campbell, and Nancy Glass and many other experts, Jackie Anantha, Popkin School of Nursing, but many other experts was that there is a pattern of abuse. And you know, newsflash an abusive relationship doesn't always start out as an abusive relationship. If someone punched you on the first date, you would probably leave. Sometimes it starts out as just really exciting, and exhilarating, and fun. And there is this period, there's a period of being like adored that is exciting. And you feel like, oh, I've been waiting for this my whole life. One of the most easily missed signs, and I did a TED talk on some of the miseds signs of abuse was his isolation. We call isolation, different things. So what isolation? In a healthy relationship, you have two individuals who love being together, but who still maintain connections to their independent lives, right? Now, everybody's going to have a different comfort zone around that but independence is a hallmark of a healthy relationship. In the rush of a new relationship, and we've all been there, frequently, you want to spend all your time with this new person, it's so exciting, it's so new, it's everything you thought you've been waiting for, like I said before. But, when you start feeling like you're having to give up parts of your independent life, or maybe not show up for people or for hobbies, or you know, events that you normally would have prioritized, and you're doing it, and you are doing it to sort of manage your partner's reactions, that's a sign that you're being isolated. Frequently that's coated in things like don't hang out with them, I just want to spend all my time with you, which is sort of flattering, but the consequences of that over time, you're really increasingly tethered to this one person, and you've really, like your support network isn't there anymore, right? So we really teach about that sign so that when people feel in their gut, I sort of wanted to go out with my friends tonight, or I really like playing volleyball or going to the gym...
Karen Ortman 09:33
But they don't want to hurt their patner's feelings, yeah.
Katie Hood 09:38
Make a note and see if that pattern keeps showing up. Honestly, the other thing we talked about is learn how to talk about it with your partner ; I love being with you, you are fantastic but I need my independent life. And that's not a statement on how I feel about you, you know? I think what we're trying to do is give kids the skills to spot a sign like that early and figure out how to talk to their partner about this and work through it or maybe so they start paying attention to see if other things are going on. I think with a lot of the signs around emotional abuse there's also like a unhealthy, I would say volatility, and sometimes intensity. where, again, I sort of referred to in the earlier one, you're so afraid of a negative response from your partner. And it might be something like with teens or with college students, I would think like, maybe your partner says, when they see that you've been texting with someone and scroll through your texts, right? Technically, you don't have to let your partner do that.
Karen Ortman 10:30
That's a good one.
Katie Hood 10:31
That's your private communication. Right? But if you know they're going to explode, accuse you of cheating and throw your phone against the wall, because that will be a volatile and intense response if you say no, then you might just share it with them. Right? But you really shouldn't have to. So what we're trying to do is really describe the behaviors of emotional abuse that have there. It's far too often part of norms so that kids can spot them and not miss them.
Karen Ortman 10:58
One Love has quite a robust website, joinonelove.org, all one word, joinonelove. It's educational, and it contains resources as well as the opportunity to obtain real time help, which is amazing. Can you speak to the website, there's a link called relationships one on one. I know it talks about healthy versus unhealthy relationships and all of the signs. Now you just covered some signs of an unhealthy relationship but can you speak to that training that is on the website and its benefits?
Katie Hood 11:42
Sure. So a couple things. First of all, we feel like this is an area that nobody knows how to talk about. All of us have seen it before and what we realized is that we've created our first film that shows how these relationships unfold, which was a film called "Escalation". When I saw it, I thought, oh, my gosh, I've seen this before and I didn't know what I was seeing. We all have seen elements of this before in our own relationships, or in our friends relationships. But we've sort of coded it in emotion, and we don't really have a language to use to talk about it. So we created our 10 signs of a healthy relationship. We started with the unhealthy relationship to try to really specifically label the behaviors that can be warning signs that you're on the path to abuse. Now, the first thing I'm going to say is 100% - I do this work for a living - I will still do unhealthy things, 100% of us will do unhealthy things. And 100% will have unhealthy things done to us; knowing what those unhealthy things are so that we can correct them, make amends, try to be better in the future is important. But the knowing the unhealthy signs means we can also keep aware of the patterns that might start to emerge that show that you're really heading into abuse. So that framework, those signs and that language have been incredibly helpful for helping young people, all people I mean, they helped me to really understand that when I felt that way, this is the behavior that made me feel that way. They also really enable you as a friend. So you have a friend you're concerned about. If you look at the behavior, it's really important when you try to help your friend to not label the person, you should break up with that person, they're terrible, it's like the worst approach. Instead say, I really feel like I've seen a lot of extreme jealousy. And, I feel like he manipulates you or she manipulates you. I think being able to have the words to describe the behaviors is better than trying to label the person.
Karen Ortman 13:37
Katie Hood 13:37
So that's our framework for everything. Now we also create a ton of videos, we educate in a lot of ways but our primary method is workshops that are anchored around videos. We believe in seeing the behaviors and then engaging peers in discussion with each other. So we have a number of those videos on our website. We will be launchin,g very shortly, a training tool so that anyone anywhere can get trained to lead discussions using these tools in their community whether that's an art and a residence hall, whether it's a professor in a class, whether it's a person on a team with their fellow athletes. We really want to open up training to everyone that empowering non-experts to lead these discussions is critical.
Karen Ortman 14:19
Katie Hood 14:21
Yeah, we also have a blog. The blog is where, sometimes they're written by us, sometimes they're written by our writers core, but it is perspectives on relationships, and advice on relationships, and is one of the most visited places on our website. So that's sort of under the relationships 101 piece.
Karen Ortman 14:39
So you used the term or phrase I should say, a few moments ago, about something being coded in emotion. What does that mean?
Katie Hood 14:49
I guess when I say coded an emotion I think when you think about relationships in your life, and you asked the question earlier, how young do you need to learn about this? The truth is the same behaviors that are unhealthy in a dating relationship are actually unhealthy in a friendship ,family relationship, or a work relationship too, it just shows up in different ways. I think you can use the 10 signs, I talked to my young kids about the 10 signs in the context of their friendships. When somebody does something hurtful to us, you feel it, you don't necessarily know how to talk about it, but you feel it. I think there is also a human instinct to put it away because it hurts, right? So, if you feel your emotions but you don't actually know how to talk to the person about what that behavior was. You can say that made me mad, you could speak in emotions but to be able to add and say that was really belittling, like, when when you just make jokes about me in front of a group, I'm not just angry, I'm not just mad, I'm not just sad, but it was belittling. It made me feel smaller. That's not a healthy thing, right? So,what I think it does is it enables you to give precision around the behavior. so that then you can have a conversation about that. It's part of like, in couples talk, I can get sort of how do you educate each other, not just about how you feel in the moment, but what that behavior was that caused that feeling.
Karen Ortman 16:15
And attaching meaningful descriptive language is probably very useful, particularly...
Katie Hood 16:25
Yeah I think so.
Karen Ortman 16:26
...in order to really, you know, truly express how that behavior made you feel to attach real words instead of just saying, you hurt my feelings, or to really define what it meant to you to the offender is probably something that doesn't happen as often as it should.
Katie Hood 16:51
Right? I think in normal relationships, it doesn't, because none of us have ever been taught how to talk about it so it's awkward. I also think in abusive relationships in particular, one of the hallmarks is gaslighting; where over time in an abusive relationship, your partner makes you feel like you're responsible for all of their bad behavior. If you can start to have some validation from a group like us and these 10 signs and these conversations you've had with your friends about volatility and sabotage and all these things, then you can actually have some confidence that no, no, that's not me, its your behavior, this is what the issue is. I think that's part of the self advocacy you lose the longer that you're in an emotionally damaging relationship.
Karen Ortman 17:38
So you mentioned twice the 10 signs, I think that you're referring to the healthy versus unhealthy relationships where it lists the 10 signs of a healthy relationship and then 10 signs of an unhealthy relationship?
Katie Hood 17:54
Exactly. That's the core language that we use that, most of our educational programs anchor back to. In our dream world, from a young age every young person would understand the relevance of these signs in their life.
Karen Ortman 18:08
And that's in the Relationships 101 link. Also on your website, is the real time help offered to survivors. Can you share any data associated with the feedback you've received regarding the usefulness of this real time help? And how many survivors it has impacted?
Katie Hood 18:35
Yeah, sure. So, when Yardley was killed, her family realized that there was - like I said - if a domestic violence expert was in the room, that person would have seen the signs and been able to direct Yardley to help. And that's true for anyone, like in any situation, frequently an expert would understand. So the goal became, let's teach the signs and then let's be a bridge to the resources that actually already exist. I mean, it's an amazing thing that these resources always exist. It's also a sad thing, the reason they exist is because domestic violence is a huge problem in our country. There's a lot of support at the local level and at the national level for victims of domestic violence. Unfortunately, if young people aren't calling what they're experiencing violence, and if they don't know what the resources are, then they can't access them. Right.? So sometimes people will say to me, you should have a hotline, and I'm like, they already exist, this is the good news. So our real time resources are actually other organizations, The National Domestic Violence Hotline is an incredible resource for anyone experiencing unhealthy or abusive behaviors or seeking information on aspects of their relationship or by the way of friends relationship. You can call the hotline if you have concerns about your sister, brother, mother, whoever it is and get advice. These advocates are incredible. They have the ability and it's anonymous. Just ask your city and state and they can pull up local resources to help you and they're just a wealth of information. Similarly, and run by the National Domestic Violence Hotline as well, Love is Respect is organized more towards teens and so that has both call and chat options You can text in to Lovers is Respect and have the same conversation by text or by phone with someone who's really focused on teen dating relationships. So in terms of data, these are incredibly valuable resources or government funds. The National Domestic Violence Hotline, because this resource is needed to bridge victims to the support they need now. I don't have exact data on how many of our participants end up the going here but for sure, we end up talking to people who are in abusive relationships and need help and call these hotlines. So again, our model is to try to get ahead of the problem to get the young people at the earliest stages in their relationships so that they can avoid finding themselves in the situation. But I did here a few years ago, when we launched a major campaign on social for example, there had been bumps at the National Domestic Violence Hotline in terms of calls. Long story short, that's what we want to do. These are bridge resources that are amazing and that exist.
Karen Ortman 21:19
Yeah. And just for the benefit of our listeners, the National Domestic Violence hotline number is 1-800-799-7233. I understand that One Love also does a significant amount of fundraising. Can you speak to the organizations or the individuals who are served by your efforts?
Katie Hood 21:44
Sometimes because we have foundation in our name, people think we're sitting on a giant pot of money, but we're not, we have to go out and raise the money every year so that we can provide. We're really committed to creating tools and resources that are available to anyone anywhere and it's really philanthropic donations that help us do that. We raise money from individuals, corporations, community fundraisers, major gifts, you name it. We're out there trying to get people to support this cause. Usually what we would say is, your support is helping us get to young people the information they absolutely need to avoid violence and abuse, but also to lead healthy lives. We think about your question about the organizations or individual served. Over the last five and a half years, over 1.1 million young people across this country have done an in person, One Love workshop, which is incredible. That's a number that has slowed because of COVID because clearly in person workshops are not happening right now. But we've also managed to pivot a lot of our programming online. One of the other things that you can see on our website under teach is that we have virtual learning options that are there. That has really opened us up to work with even more people from around the country and the globe but our target is, we know that everybody benefits from this information because none of us have ever been taught this in a standardized way. But we're really targeted, we're focusing on young people and Gen Z, hoping to sort of shift their mindset from the start, no matter what kind of families they've grown up in or what their norm has been to date, we want to try to shift them. And then we want to partner with organizations like - what I love about our model is we don't want to replace the Boys and Girls Clubs relationship with their students we want to give them a tool to use to make sure their students have a greater likelihood of success on this front. We definitely want to partner with organizations who care about their kids. They know relationships are important, but they don't have the tools to use that we do, that we can give to them for free. So you have to raise money to keep it all going. I've been really inspired by how many people I think hear about what we're doing and even if they've never been in an abusive relationship, they say, you know, that probably would have helped me.
Karen Ortman 24:05
Yeah, absolutely. I am sure. I'm, so grateful to have been informed of your organization. I'm honored that you were willing to talk to me today and I think that this is something that all younger people and older people, everybody should know about One Love Foundation, and everybody should go check out and join Onelove.org because it's timely and it's a much needed resource, particularly for people who are survivors or in relationships and really don't quite know what to do when the relationship is unhealthy. So I thank you.
Katie Hood 25:00
Thanks for helping us spread the word.
Karen Ortman 25:02
Yeah, sure. So is there anything that I have not asked you that you would like to add?
Katie Hood 25:10
Well, actually only one thing given that you're at NYU. A major part of our program is also leadership from the community. We have a Campus Ambassador Program that recruits student leaders at the college level to who really want to get behind this and help be community leaders at, for example, NYU, where you can meet other leaders from other colleges, you can be mentored by a staff person here. So if anyone listening to this, say either are student would be interested that in that, or know a student who'd be great for that, please know that that is a major way that we get kids to lead the work themselves. I mean kids in the best ways, to get Gen Z to lead the work by inspiring them to lead so our Campus Ambassador Program is open to anyone at NYU who might be interested,
Karen Ortman 25:57
Okay, and they access this information on your website?
Katie Hood 26:02
Yep. If they go to join Onelove.org and then they send an information email to firstname.lastname@example.org and express their interest in the Campus Ambassador Program, they will be connected to the person who leads that effort on our behalf.
Karen Ortman 26:15
Excellent. Well, thank you very much. Thank you to my guests. Hey, Katie Hood, I appreciate you being here.
Katie Hood 26:23
Thanks so much, Karen.
Karen Ortman 26:24
My pleasure entirely. And thank you to all of our listeners for joining us for today's episode of You Matter if any information presented today was triggering or disturbing please feel free to contact the wellness exchange at 212-443-9999 or NYUs Department of Public Safety and their Victim Services Unit at 212-998-2222. Please share like and subscribe to you matter on Apple podcasts, Google Play, Tune in or Spotify.