As far as most people are concerned, domestic violence is all about bruises and broken bones. Being bashed, kicked, hit or beaten to a pulp. And even with visible bruises and signs of abuse by people in our communities, we are often at a loss as to what to do. Worse yet, most victims of domestic violence rarely come out, hiding behind award winning smiles and elegantly covering their bruises with makeup, for fear of what people will think and say, and the stigma that follows.
“Why doesn’t she leave/Why don’t you leave?” This is one of the most common questions that usually follow when someone opens up or when the situation comes to light. And oftentimes you’ll hear reasons like, “I’m staying for the kids, or he has really changed this time round (especially since the abusers often pile on their best charm after they inflict abuse), and a series of other reasons. The underlying issue though, is that these victims rarely have a place to go, or the means to do so. Most have been alienated from their support systems by their abusers, who control their access to finances, sometimes abusing their victims and having absolute control over them emotionally, psychologically and verbally, without even raising a hand.
As such, victims often stay; beaten, bruised, broken (physically and otherwise), and without the means to break free and escape their predicament. They are financially powerless and for those that are able to get away, they find refuge at a shelter with just the clothes on their backs, their kids and a mountain of debt. Sadly, there’s often the risk of not getting attended to sustainably, mostly for lack of resources for the organizations that run these programs, or the victims escaping to places where they are still abused further in different ways, from the very places and by the people they thought would give them hope and some kind of respite.
As such, The Allstate Foundation came up with the Purple Purse, a project to help end domestic abuse through financial empowerment, so that victims are not only able to break free, but to be free and not return to their abusers. The project also offers a free online financial empowerment curriculum, which can be easily accessed, customized and translated in any language to reach out to various communities, as domestic abuse happens across all demographics.
What can you do?
Below are some of the actions, offered by some key figures in the fight against domestic violence, that you can do to help advance this cause:
– Spread the word/advocate for the fight against domestic violence.
– Read the signs, for the people around you and potential abusive signs by partners
– Speak about it openly and share survivor stories, or your own survival story to reduce stigma
– Share it on various forums
– Know how to protect yourself and others
– Know the resources available in your community; shelters, related community organizations
specializing in domestic violence, free resources, hotline/emergency contacts, among others.
– Educate yourself about the statistics and other information about domestic violence.
– “How can I help?” The question to ask victims instead of asking them why they stay.
– Volunteer at organizations that support the domestic violence cause.
*Inspired by the “Breaking Free: Ending Domestic Abuse through Financial Empowerment” event by the AllState Foundation’s Purple Purse and The Financial Services Roundtable CSR Department.
Event Panelists: Kim Gandy (President and CEO, National Network to End Domestic Violence), Victoria Dinges (SVP Corporate Relations at Allstate Foundation), Monica Gray (Chief Executive Officer YWCA National Capital Area). Moderator: Judy Chapa – Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Financial Services Roundtable. To learn more about Purple Purse please visit http://purplepurse.com/