Why Don’t You Just Leave

Purple purse charm

Disclosure: I’m thrilled to be collaborating with Allstate Foundation on the Purple Purse campaign. This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.

In the early 2000s I moved from a cozy life and career in the TV business in Miami to the chaos, duality and unpredictability of Mexico City. It was a move I wanted for many reasons. I was in my late twenties, single, passionate and very ambitious. I saw untapped opportunity in this city that spoke my language at so many levels and it offered so much mystery where unpredictability was the only constant.

Just a few months after landing there, I realized I was too naive for this intense, yet exciting, city. Many things happened that let me see the dark side of people in ways I thought existed only in the most dramatic soap operas. As my life unraveled emotionally and financially, I met a man that came to my rescue. We immediately fell deeply in love. In many ways, it was a need we both had to feel protected from the harsh reality we were living at the time — a codependence of sorts. A naked vulnerability with streams of passion to unfold.

There’s much that goes into our story together. So much that it could fill the pages of a book full of love, intensity, lessons and growth. But I want to fast forward to the moment I realized it was time to move on. A lot happened that had united us to the point where we had shed the outside world in favor of our protective little cocoon. The cocoon felt safe, for sure, but it wasn’t real. I had allowed myself to be blindly taken care of, because I was so scared of being “out there” again and was being slowly chewed up by all that had thrown me down before. What ended up happening the moment I gave in to being fully taken care of, was that I ended up losing my financial identity. Of course it was beautiful and freeing to not have to worry about money because someone else took care of it all, but there was always that feeling of emptiness in the sense that nothing was truly mine.

I realized I truly had given up ownership of everything. I had no bank accounts to my name. No credit cards that were mine, no title in Mexico or in the U.S. In fact, I had cashed in my 401K in order to move to Mexico, so all I had left in the U.S. under my name were my student loan debts, which I had defaulted on because I thought I’d never move back.

It took a while, but it finally dawned on me that if anything ever happened between us there would be no way out of a country that had adopted me, and a country that I had given my life to, but where I was also truly alone.

I started making moves to get back in touch with all of my TV production contacts in Mexico and the U.S. to try to get a job even though I had disappeared from the scene for about three years. The moment I started making those moves, he became jealous. He never, ever was physical with me, but I could feel the intensity of his jealous side, and it made me scared. He knew that my having a job would equate to my financial freedom, and that he could do nothing to keep me once I decided to leave.

While my situation ended up in the best possible terms for the scenario, (I could never say he consciously abused me in any way) I learned and felt how a woman could enter a life-altering and even threatening financial and domestic abuse situation. It unravels over the years. It’s what we give up from our stage of vulnerability and giving. What we bring from our lack, we try to fill with the abuser’s promises of love and protection.

These situations are precisely the ones that the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse is addressing. Purple Purse is a movement that provides domestic violence survivors the financial skills and tools to break free and stay free from abuse. I believe the most important step is realizing you are in an abusive relationship (1 out of 4 women in the United States are!). But even if you do realize it, what do you do next? Most of us don’t understand just how difficult it is to “just leave,” Allstate Foundation Purple Purse realizes that, so they’ve created an interactive experience called Why Don’t You Just Leave, in which anyone can experience just how financial abuse keeps victims trapped. The experience allows you to virtually walk in the shoes of someone in a domestic violence and financial abuse situation. You will walk through a typical day, selecting the ways in which you can try to leave the situation and then learn the ramifications from your attempts to flee. I really urge you to check it out on PurplePurse.com, because it’s definitely an eye-opening experience that could help you or help you help a friend in need.

Other ways you can help victims of financial and domestic abuse are:

  • Go to PurplePurse.com and donate to nonprofits benefiting domestic violence survivors.
  • Purchase a beautiful Purple Purse Charm ($10 donation). The charm is also a conversation-starter, so it will help you continue elevating your voice for victims.
  • If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. The hotline and other survivor resources are available on PurplePurse.com.

Recuerda,  no estás sola.

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