Terera[i] was two months pregnant before she realized she was being financially abused.
She was the one who paid the bills, but her husband would often physically block her from going to work. When she had the baby early and took a longer-than-expected maternity leave, she was forced to use her retirement savings to pay the family’s rent. With her husband unwilling to get a job, she had to apply for public assistance. But even then, her husband withheld critical information Terera needed to get financial help.
Terera’s emotional story of surviving financial abuse is one of three released today by The Allstate Foundation leading into National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. By telling the stories of these survivors, The Allstate Foundation hopes to bring this lesser-known form of domestic violence out of the shadows and put a face to the often-invisible epidemic of financial abuse.
“People think that you can just leave – you can just get up and go – and it’s not always like that,” said Susan, another survivor who tells her story. “I felt like I had a monster living in my house that I couldn’t get out.”
These women escaped their abusive relationships with the help of The Allstate Foundation’s Moving Ahead Curriculum, which aims to empower survivors to become secure through financial education. Many victims can’t break free from the financial abuse, and sometimes they don’t even recognize that they’re in an abusive relationship.
The three survivors – Terera, Susan and Krista – are stepping forward to make a change and raise awareness of the signs of abuse.
Domestic violence affects one in four women, and even though financial abuse is present in 99% of domestic violence situations, it’s seldom discussed and commonly misunderstood. A 2018 Allstate Foundation survey[ii] revealed that 51% of financial abuse survivors wouldn’t know how to help another victim, even having experienced abuse themselves.
“It’s more important than ever to have these three brave women share their stories,” said Ellen Lisak, Allstate Foundation senior program officer. “Our research shows that domestic violence has become an increasingly taboo topic, despite the momentum and openness of today’s women’s movement. To end the cycle of abuse, we must have meaningful conversations to shine a light on how financial abuse traps victims. We all have to educate ourselves and drive positive cultural change.”
The three videos are part of The Allstate Foundation’s campaign “Know Financial Abuse. No Domestic Violence,” which aims to spur public awareness, dialogue and action on this pervasive issue. The campaign launched in August with “Signs,” an online video featuring Purple Purse program ambassador Serena Williams. Each survivor’s story provides unique context to the issue, illustrating the many ways financial abuse traps victims and how financial empowerment resources can be their key to safety.
The Allstate Foundation urges the public to help empower victims to break free and remain free from abuse by learning the signs of financial abuse and having conversations around the topic if they suspect someone needs help.
If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 800-787-3224.
Purple Purse is a signature program of The Allstate Foundation, which is an independent charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation. The Allstate Foundation works to create more prosperous communities where people are inspired and empowered to fulfill their hopes and dreams by breaking the cycle of domestic violence, inspiring the next generation of leaders, closing the nonprofit leadership gap and honoring Allstate volunteers. For updates on The Allstate Foundation’s initiatives, follow The Allstate Foundation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. More information on The Allstate Foundation is available at AllstateFoundation.org.
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[i] The last names of these survivors are being withheld to help protect their identities.
[ii] The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence and Financial Abuse survey was conducted online February 9-17, 2018, by GfK among 1,840 American adults over age 18. It was a nationally representative sample of 1,052, with demographic oversamples (age 22-37), as well as residents of Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 2.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence interval. The survey was offered in both English and Spanish.