Not All Abuse is Physical — This Program Helps Victims Escape Financial Abuse

financial abuse
Allstate corporate headquarters is lit purple to shine a light for Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the financial abuse that victims face. Photo courtesy Allstate Foundation Purple Purse

There are a number of reasons victims don’t leave their abusers, but it often comes down to a lack of money.

It’s tough to move and start over under the best circumstances. But when an abuser is holding the purse strings, it’s even more difficult.

Frankly, it can seem impossible.

Financial abuse can include forbidding a victim from holding a job, hiding assets, not allowing a victim to have or access a bank account, and a host of other controlling behaviors.

“Imagine not being able to pay for a cab ride because you don’t have your own money to spend, or not having access to a bank account or a credit card. That’s the experience of women trapped in financially abusive relationships,” Vicky Dinges, senior vice president of corporate responsibility at the Allstate Foundation, told us.

Allstate Foundation Purple Purse is a nationwide program designed to provide financial empowerment to survivors of domestic violence.

The foundation offers a set of free financial tools to help people untangle the financial complexities and safety considerations of leaving an abusive partner.

Through a self-led curriculum of ebooks and interactive web-based videos, abuse victims learn how to protect themselves and their finances, repair bad credit, apply for loans, budget and more.

Allstate has invested $50 million in its initiative and raised nearly $5.5 million in donations. It says its foundation has helped more than 1 million people “recover their financial independence and break the cycle of domestic violence.”

Actress Kerry Washington and tennis star Serena Williams have teamed up with the foundation to spread the word about Purple Purse and raise awareness of how financial dependence makes it more difficult for victims to leave abusive partners.

financial abuse

Photo courtesy Allstate Foundation Purple Purse

“Not a lot of people really know about financial abuse,” Williams told Mic. “It’s an invisible but also really devastating form of domestic abuse that traps victims in these harmful relationships.”

Need a Plan? These Resources Can Also Help

Here are some additional resources for victims of abuse:

  • The National Endowment for Financial Education created a free workbook to teach survivors how to rebuild their financial lives after domestic abuse.
  • The IRS has a free publication containing tax information for survivors of domestic abuse.
  • WomensLaw.org has free legal advice on how to deal with identity theft and credit card debt as a result of financial abuse.
  • Soroptimist awards over $1.6 million in education grant money for women to attend college or vocational school and increase their earning potential.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or TTY 800-787-3224.

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.