The important meaning behind Serena Williams's 'Million Dollar' purse

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(Photo: Allstate Foundation Purple Purse)
The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, a collaboration with tennis star Serena Williams. (Photo: Allstate Foundation Purple Purse)

Yahoo Lifestyle would like to introduce you to #TheCurrent, a column by Fashion Editor Julie Tong, in which she gives her stamp of approval to some of the latest fashion products and launches.

In honor of October being National Domestic Violence Awareness month, I wanted to shed light on one particular cause that is near and dear to my heart. This one strikes very close to home. Although I am not speaking from personal experience, I find it horrifying to read stats that say one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. These women could be my friends, my relatives, my colleagues — women everywhere.

A new campaign launched by world-class tennis player, philanthropist, and new mother Serena Williams and The Allstate Foundation is looking to reduce the number of women who become statistics by designing the Purple Purse. It is an oversized, structured tote bag made of supple Italian leather in a deep shade of purple and is valued at $400. But this purse isn’t actually for sale. It is meant to be a beacon for battered women. You can donate as little as $10 for a chance to win one of just four exclusive limited-edition Purple Purses. The rest of the bags — more than 200 — will be donated to domestic shelters across the country. This is all part of the The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge.

They are challenging everyone to help by donating as little as $10 — or more — to help provide important services that will directly help abused women, such as a week’s worth of food, childcare services, transportation fees, financial advice, and more.

Tennis star Serena Williams in New York City. (Photo: Getty)
Tennis star Serena Williams in New York City. (Photo: Getty)

“Standing up for women’s rights has long been a passion of mine,” said Williams in a press release. “I am honored to join Allstate Foundation Purple Purse to bring financial abuse and domestic violence out of the shadows and into the public conversation. I hope people will join the Purple Purse movement and work with us to end abuse against women.”

The idea of the Purple Purse campaign is to shed light on the significant, yet often invisible financial abuse that domestically abused women suffer. Ninety-nine percent of abused women suffer financial abuse, which can include having their access to funds restricted, their credit ruined, and even being harassed at work to the extent that they lose their jobs.

“A purse represents the center of a woman’s financial identity, which is why we chose a purse to symbolize our program to end domestic violence and financial abuse,” Vicky Dinges, Allstate’s senior vice president of corporate responsibility, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “In nearly all cases of domestic violence, survivors experience financial abuse, which means their abusers deny them access to financial resources further trapping them in abusive relationships. Our mission at Allstate Foundation Purple Purse is to empower women to reclaim their independence through financial empowerment. We need everyone men and women to stand up against abusers and stand for survivors.”

The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse has been going strong for 13 years, and has already helped more than 1 million domestic abuse survivors. They have invested more than $55 million to empower women to break free from domestic abuse with the help of financial education, job training, and small business programs.

So even if you are not one of the lucky Purple Purse winners, you can still support for the campaign by purchasing a $10 charm to hang on your own bag. Each charm includes a story of how a survivor used financial empowerment to break free from an abusive relationship. To date, the 2017 Challenge has brought in more than $2 million in donations — a figure that is still rising

There’s only a week left in the challenge, so if you’re interested, donate until Oct. 31 for your chance to win of Serena Williams’s “million-dollar” bags. Know that your contribution will go towards helping thousands of women who suffer domestic abuse every day.

Below is a video that shows that you can’t always see signs of financial abuse until you look inside a woman’s lost purse:

Video: Allstate Foundation Purple Purse

If you are in need of assistance with domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

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