This Funder Knows Financial Issues Are Key for Women in Violent Relationships

The Allstate Foundation is trying to change the often back-and-forth paths women take when leaving their abusive partners. One of the ways it is helping change that trajectory is improved financial literacy. The foundation’s Purple Purse Challenge is making some pretty decent progress in this regard.

Financial abuse is a concept that many people aren't familiar with, but it's often a key element in abusive relationships overall. Finanical abuse occurs when domestic violence victims are denied access to money and other financial resources by their abusers. With no money, income or financial prospects, victims are faced with the very real possibilities of homelessness, food insecurity, and the inability to support their children. These fears are often a major deciding factor in whether abused women leave, stay, or return to their violent home lives.

Related: To Prevent Domestic Abuse, Foundation’s Invest in Women’s Financial Literacy

Financial abuse occurs in an estimated 98 percent of abusive relationships. Allstate is one of the few funders paying attention to the issue, and it has been doing so for over a decade. Financial abuse is also becoming a larger funding priority among likeminded NGOs, including the Dallas and New York Women’s foundations.

In the beginning of October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, Allstate’s Purple Purse Challenge encouraged domestic violence nonprofits to light a fire under their fundraising efforts by putting $550,000 in sweepstakes and contest prizes up for grabs. The concept here was simple—the NGO that raised the most money won Allstate’s top prize of $100,000.

This year, the grand prize winner was the Palatine, Illinois-based nonprofit Wings Program, which provides shelter, services, education, and advocacy toward ending domestic violence in its local and surrounding communities.

By the end of October, Allstate cut checks ranging from $2,000 to $75,000 to 19 more domestic violence nonprofits, and the Purple Purse Challenge raised over $3 million to help domestic violence survivors across the country take steps toward achieving “long-term safety and security through financial empowerment.”

This is all encouraging, but financial abuse remains an area that many funders overlook. And while the White House has brought attention to financial abuse, it still isn’t a huge topic in the national conversation on domestic violence.