Friday, September 26, 2014

Sharing My Purple Purse Story to End Financial Abuse

*This is a compensated blog post in collaboration with Allstate Foundation® and Latina Bloggers Connect. Everything stated is my own opinion, and my story*
If you had to walk out on your life right now, right this very second, do you think you could do it? This is not an exercise asking what 3 things you would grab from your house if it was burning or what you want to be stranded on a deserted island with. Rather, I'm asking you to think about the things that keep you where you are, doing what you do and staying with the people you are with. Could you really walk out on all of that?

As much as we like to think money and finances shouldn't and don't control our lives, they do. It's the reason why so many women stay in abusive relationships,
and a huge factor for why domestic violence becomes a repetitive thing. Last year Allstate Foundation began working with, Purple Purse, a program that uses the symbol of a purse to stand for domestic and financial abuse that so many women face, and empowers them through financial independence. 

A lot of you reading this might not even realize financial abuse is a thing. Statistics show that 8 out of 10 Americans do not know that financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse. I know that a lot of the people that I talked to initially insisted that they had never heard of such a thing, but were able to come up with a few examples when faced with the idea that it can and does happen. 

Domestic abuse is one of those things that no one wants to talk about, and when stories come out-- and they always do-- everyone has something to say about the victim, abuser and circumstances. Labels, stereotypes, assumptions and judgements go to work and take away even more control of the situation from the victim. In my personal experience, dealing with all the after has been just as hard, and sometimes harder, than dealing with what happened to me. 

It's painful, but I know that sharing what happens to us makes a huge difference in the way someone else responds to a situation later. After seeing the way so many people responded to the big domestic violence news stories that recently came out, I said yes to sharing my story. So here goes. 

The time that it took you to read that is about the same amount of time I had to deal with it. Those split seconds of acceptance, from that moment to this, were the few seconds that I felt in control. 

Are you over it yet? Can you forget about what I just told you? Push it out of your mind yet? Can you think about how everyone else is feeling for just a minute? Think you can pretend it never happened in time for my big life moment? It turned out okay, right, you're still here.


I was fortunate that my what's next/what am I going to do, all those financial how, why, what's, were not controlled by anyone that hurt me. That does not mean it was easy. 

And with that I walked away from my life.
My show of support for Purple Purse.

For 98% of people that are victims of domestic abuse, the financial abuse is what keeps them trapped. If you don't have access to money to leave, provide for yourself, your children etc it becomes a reason to stay-- if only to wait it out till you can leave.  

Purple Purse was started to make sure that no one needs to stay trapped in an abusive relationship because of money. Financial literacy and independence are powerful tools, tools every woman should possess, no matter what her situation looks like right now. 

Allstate invested more than half a million dollars to the Purple Purse Challenge, and Kerry Washington became the ambassador for the program! Anyone can donate to Purple Purse, here, and help someone going through what I went through. I don't think a lot of people realize how much it happens, how many women stay silent, how family members and friends come together to put pressure on victims to stay silent. 

Kerry designed a purple purse, her symbol of support and to inspire women to reclaim their financial independence. 

Being in control means everything. And being able to talk about domestic violence can change a life. 

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.

A note to my friends that may be reading about this for the first time. I am safe. I am well. Sophie