Not all abuse is visible. The Allstate Foundation has teamed up with tennis champion and Serena Williams to raise awareness of financial abuse – a type of abuse that happens in 99% of domestic violence cases. Yet, nearly 50% of Americans don’t know about it.

Titled “Invisible Weapon,” the new video aims to bring awareness to financial abuse, a controlling tactic frequently used by domestic violence abusers and one of the primary reasons victims stay in or return to abusive relationships. The urgent call for support for domestic violence survivors coincides with the start of the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse® Challenge, which takes place 2 – 31 October.

Propelled by a powerful narrative from Williams, “Invisible Weapon” dramatizes the differences between the clear visual signs of physical abuse and the invisible signs of financial abuse, exposing the hidden challenges victims face. The video closes with a call-to-action for people to help empower survivors in their communities.

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“For more than a decade, The Allstate Foundation has put a spotlight on this devastating issue, stood up for the victims who have been silenced, and given hope to the survivors trying to break free,” said Vicky Dinges, Allstate’s senior vice president of corporate relations. “Everyone needs to care about this pervasive issue. With Serena joining us to deliver this important message in ‘Invisible Weapon,’ we hope more men and women will speak up about domestic violence and financial abuse and be compelled to end it – once and for all.”

From restrictions on spending to ruined credit, the signs of financial abuse are often invisible, and many people don’t even know it exists. According to a 2018 national public opinion survey conducted by The Allstate Foundation, nearly 50 percent of respondents are unaware that financial abuse is a form of domestic violence.

“I’m proud to speak up for women who can’t use their voices, and let them know we’re working to end the cycle of abuse,” said Williams. “I hope that after viewing the video, people will be more aware of the hidden signs of financial abuse and they’ll understand the need to help those who’ve been burdened by it.”   

New research has found that 1 in 3 Americans think domestic violence is a taboo topic, a 10-point increase since 2014. The study also revealed that nearly half of Americans are not familiar with financial abuse as a form of domestic violence, when in fact it’s one of the top reasons victims can’t “just leave.” Financial abuse tactics include preventing victims from working or keeping them from accessing bank accounts, credit cards or cash.

Championed by The Allstate Foundation, nearly 300 domestic violence nonprofits from across the U.S. are participating in the 2018 Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge. Now in its fifth year, the annual fundraiser coincides with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Funds raised by participating nonprofits will go toward providing life-changing services for survivors and their families, such as financial aid and financial empowerment, emergency shelter and child care, and food and transportation.

To support the nonprofits’ fundraising efforts, Williams designed a limited-edition purse. This year’s unique design is a suede and leather purple backpack, which is a first of its kind for Allstate Foundation Purple Purse.

“A purse is symbolic of a woman’s financial domain. We’re thrilled Serena Williams took that to heart when designing the purse for the 2018 Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge, and we’re confident it will encourage an even greater number of people to get involved and support the participating nonprofits,” said Dinges.

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