Disclosure: We have partnered with Allstate Foundation and Latina Bloggers Connect for this post.
A year ago, I told you about Allstate Foundation Purple Purse and shared with you a story about my friend, Jenn and her experience with domestic violence. Today, I am going to tell you about an experience that I thought would never happen to me but first I want to talk about what the Allstate Foundation is doing with the Purple Purse campaign.
Allstate Foundation Purple Purse is making it easier – even fashionable – to talk about domestic violence and the financial abuse that traps women in abusive relationships. The program ignites fundraising for more than 140 national, state and local domestic violence organizations. Funds raised will support life-changing financial empowerment services to help domestic violence survivors build safer lives for themselves and their families. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse aims to break the cycle of violence in our nation – one family at a time.
New evidence from the Center on Violence Against Women and Children at Rutgers University School of Social Work indicates that boosting a survivor’s financial literacy, skills and resources can create a path toward long-term safety and security for survivors. Since 2005, The Allstate Foundation has invested more than $40 million across the country to help domestic violence survivors regain control of their finances and break free from abuse. PurplePurse.com has important tips and tools to help you recognize domestic violence and financial abuse, talk about it and end it.
My story isn’t one of domestic violence, it’s one of emotional abusive behavior, but it could have easily spiraled into that if I hadn’t cut off communication with the abuser after a month of interacting. But during that month, we were romantically involved, they were charming, gave me a lot of attention (which I am a sucker for), and I began to consider becoming serious with this person.
Until little things started happening, like the time they criticized the way I spoke and the words I used, which were cultural words that I grew up saying. Or when that person criticized my lifestyle choices and told me that I should just “get a job” even after explaining that my mental stability came first. This person even criticized the way I wore my highly processed hair to protect it during a day at the beach. And then there was the social isolation – this person would not let me meet their family or friends, nor did they meet mine. They would call all the shots in terms of where we went and what we did and how we did it and they refused to let me pay for anything even though I expressed discomfort at this.
Eventually it got to the point where we were arguing all the time. I would express anger or hurt and I would be told that I was too needy or too intense. I would get dismissed almost immediately when I tried to say “hey, this is not ok.” This person picked fights with me when the two of us were seemingly having a good day together or on what was supposed to be a good day (like my birthday) and then would proceed to tell me what I was supposed to say or do to fix the situation or further criticizing me for not responding the way they thought was best. They never took responsibility for their actions and always feigned total ignorance or helplessness.
I let this go on for a little over a month, mostly because at first, I couldn’t believe this would be happening to me, a feminist that believes and supports women’s rights, a person who played a vital role in saving another women from domestic violence, a person who thought she knew better. But the classic signs of emotional abuse were there and even though they started out slowly (enough that I could write each individual experience off), this person’s behavior became increasingly more abusive. I stopped being able to justify things. I couldn’t keep telling myself that if I just explained it right or well enough, they would get it, they would understand, they would stop. I had to be the one that stopped it.
And so I did. I was lucky that I was able to cut that person out of my life. Some people in abusive situations are not as lucky. Domestic violence affects one in four women in her lifetime – that’s more women than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer combined. And that’s not mentioning the men, trans* people, and others that are victims of domestic violence. Most people think only of physical abuse when they consider domestic violence. Yet, financial abuse happens in 98% of all cases of domestic violence and is one of the most powerful ways to keep a victim trapped.
Financial abuse is just as effective in controlling an abused victim as a lock and key. If her credit has been ruined, she can’t get an apartment. If her abuser constantly harasses her at work, she can lose her job. And, crushing debt run up by an abuser means it could take a survivor and her children years to fully recover from abuse.
Domestic violence and financial abuse often go hand-in-hand, but nearly 8 in 10 Americans have not heard much about financial abuse as a form of domestic violence. The number one reason domestic violence survivors stay, leave or return to an abusive relationship is that they don’t have the financial resources to break free. This is obviously a huge problem and not enough people are talking about it. Two-thirds of Americans believe that domestic violence is a serious problem, yet just over 1 in 3 have ever talked about it. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse aims to make it fashionable to talk about this difficult topic.
To turn any purse into a Purple Purse, The Allstate Foundation is widely distributing Purple Purse charms so you can show your support and attach to your favorite bag year round. They are being distributed with inspiring survivor stories through Purple Purse Challenge participants and Allstate agency owners.
You can help ensure domestic violence survivors – likely someone you know – aren’t financially trapped in an abusive relationship by joining the Purple Purse Challenge. Open your heart and wallet to stand up for survivors and the organizations that serve them at PurplePurse.com.
The Allstate Foundation is investing more than half a million dollars in the Purple Purse Challenge. The more donations each nonprofit gets, the more it can compete for Allstate Foundation incentive funding. Go to PurplePurse.com between Sept. 2 and Oct. 3 to join the Challenge and help a nonprofit near you.
Thank you for reading, friends. This is an issue that is really close to my heart and I appreciate your support and love. Our communities are what lift us up so please do what you can when you can. ♥
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.