Allstate Foundation and Washington fight financial abuse

Financial abuse — a form of domestic abuse which often includes a spouse or partner restricting access to their counterpart’s credit or spending their money once a victim leaves — occurs in 98 percent of abusive relationships, according to U.S. News and World ReportBut Kerry Washington and the Allstate Foundation are trying to stop financial abuse in its tracks while also helping victims.

According to the Huffington Post, the Scandal star is partnering with Allstate Foundation Purple Purse to not only raise awareness of financial abuse, but to also promote women’s financial independence and provide the “tools they need to free themselves from abusive partners.”

While Washington told the Huffington Post at the United State of Women summit last week that she had never previously heard of financial abuse, she now recognizes the severity of the issue. “It’s … the No. 1 reason why women don’t leave domestic violence, and the No. 1 reason why even when they leave, they go back, because they don’t have the financial empowerment or wherewithal to stand on their own, to be truly free,” she said.

Because of this, Washington said it’s important to give women the tools they need to escape such a situation. “Learning that financial abuse is such a huge component in why women stay, it just feels like, oh, we can give this concrete tool, this very tangible tool for women to be able to take care of themselves, save their lives, save their families, and transform their communities.”

To help women in financially abusive situations, Allstate Foundation Purple Purse “gives women small loans to be able to buy a car and get away, and it teaches domestic violence survivors how they can repair their credit, save for a home, or start a small business,” according to the Huffington Post, and to date, they’ve invested over $50 million in resources and helped 800,000 women escape from situations of domestic violence.

Vicky Dinges, vice president of Allstate Foundation, recounted a tale of one woman that the organization helped — a mother of six who saved $5 at a time to remove her family from the abusive situation.

“She knew the only way she could hide the money where her abuser wouldn’t find it is in the applicator of a tampon,” said Dinges, according to the Huffington Post. “For two years [she saved] $5 every week. At the end of those two years she was able to get her family out safe.”

To learn more about financial abuse, the initiative or about how you can get involved, click here.