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.
We carry our purse around with us every single day without even a second thought of why we do it. Claro, it’s where we keep the things we need to have with us in our hectic lives: keys, wallet, lipstick…you know, essentials. Most of us make sure it’s the right style, the right color for the season and, for some, that’s it’s even on-brand and a status symbol. For Latinas it even carries the power to make your money disappear if you dare place it on a bed or on the floor! Gotta love our superstitions ;)
But I’ve learned that for so many women in the world, having a purse is not really an option. My first ahá moment of the symbolic power of a purse was when I first visited Haiti in 2012 — just two years after the devastating earthquake they suffered — with a group of female bloggers invited by Heart of Haiti. Tent cities were still all over Port au Prince and we visited a few of them to meet women who were creating arts and crafts to supply an income for their families. My dear friend Danica Kombol had been to Haiti before, so she was savvy enough to organize a purse fundraiser with her friends in Atlanta. She traveled to Haiti with a bag full of purses and I really didn’t know what to think of it. I kept pondering that for sure these women needed much more than a purse; things like medicines, toiletries, school supplies. It just seemed a bit vain. That’s how little I knew.
When we arrived to the tent city we were greeted by the wonderful smiles of these women that had seen so much suffering in their lifetime. We had all brought different items to donate but it was that moment when Danica opened up the humongous duffle bag full of purses that their faces truly lit up. Each one got one purse and clutched tightly to it. This was theirs. It was maybe the one thing that truly belonged to them. I started realizing that for them it wasn’t only a place to carry stuff around, but it represented freedom and independence. Living in a tent with lots of other people, nothing was truly theirs. But whatever was and could fit in their handbag, could be with them always.
From that day forward, purses came to symbolize for me a woman’s economic independence.
The very next year, Allstate Foundation approached my company, Latina Bloggers Connect, to collaborate on a campaign for Allstate Foundation Purple Purse — a public awareness and fundraising campaign aimed at creating long-term safety and security for domestic violence survivors through financial empowerment. The symbol of the campaign is a purse to represent the center of a woman’s financial domain and to inspire women to reclaim their financial independence. I was so inspired by the whole movement and grateful when they came back to us to collaborate on the campaign for a second year in 2014. And now I’ve been blown away with excitement that I’ve been invited to be a PURSEonal Voices ambassador to use my voice (and hopefully inspire yours too!) to raise awareness to help ensure domestic violence survivors – likely someone you know – aren’t financially trapped in an abusive relationship.
Those women I met in Haiti symbolize the extreme of financial despair and also domestic abuse. But domestic violence is at an epidemic level in this country. One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime – that’s more than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer combined. Mind boggling, no? Even more so since most people think only of physical abuse when they consider domestic violence. Yet, financial abuse happens in 98% of all cases of domestic violence – it is an invisible weapon that keeps victims trapped in abusive relationships.
Why is financial abuse so devastating for women? According to PurplePurse.com, “Financial abuse is just as effective in controlling an abused victim as a lock and key. If her credit has been ruined, she can’t get an apartment. If her abuser constantly harasses her at work, she can lose her job. And, crushing debt run up by an abuser means it could take a survivor and her children years to fully recover from abuse.”
You had no idea? Neither did I until I started collaborating with Allstate Foundation Purple Purse two years ago. In fact, you’re not alone, because nearly 8 in 10 Americans (78%) have not heard much about financial abuse as a form of domestic violence.
Can you help me change that? Seguro lo podemos hacer juntas apoyando a Allstate Foundation Purple Purse.
This is my first post of a few I’ll share with you in the coming months, especially leading up to October when more than 160 state, local and national nonprofits will be participating in the Purple Purse Challenge, and so can you.
Next month I’ll be joining the other PURSEonal Voices in New York for the unveiling of this year’s Allstate Foundation Purple Purse with Kerry Washington. The Emmy-nominated actress and domestic violence activist is serving in her second year as an Allstate Foundation Purple Purse ambassador to help raise awareness for the cause. I’m at an eek-level excitement because I’ll be joining her in NYC on September 24th for the unveiling of this year’s purse and will for sure be sharing it all with you via social and more blog posts during the coming months. Make sure you follow the #PurplePurse hashtag starting now and, of course, if you or someone you know needs immediate help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224. Pedir ayuda no es debilidad.
¡Besos y abrazos!