How a purple backpack designed by Serena Williams will support domestic violence victims

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#TheCurrent: Serena Williams introduces a purple backpack with Allstate Foundation Purple Purse to support domestic violence victims. (Photo: Allstate Foundation Purple Purse)
#TheCurrent: Serena Williams introduces a purple backpack with Allstate Foundation Purple Purse to support domestic violence victims. (Photo: Allstate Foundation Purple Purse)

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On average, 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). October marks Domestic Violence Awareness month, and in honor of this occasion, Serena Williams, world tennis champion, wife and mother, is doing her part to support victims of domestic violence.

For the second year in a row, she will act as an ambassador for the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse. “Being a voice for women’s empowerment has always been incredibly important to me, and having Olympia has only made that more significant,” Williams says to Yahoo Lifestyle. “Right now, one in four women experience domestic violence in her lifetime. As a mother, I want to make sure that every little girl, including Olympia, won’t have to face a statistic like that when she grows up. I want people to know how to see the signs and where to get resources, like those through Purple Purse, so they can help someone in need.”

In collaboration with the Allstate Foundation, Williams has designed a special purple bag to kick off this year’s Purple Purse Challenge. “A purse is symbolic of a women’s financial domain. We’re thrilled … Serena Williams took that to heart when designing the purse … and we’re confident it will encourage an even greater number of people to get involved and support the participating nonprofits,” Vicky Dinges, Allstate’s senior vice president of corporate relations, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

This year, in lieu of a traditional purse, Williams has designed a purple backpack. It is made of soft purple leather and suede and features two front zippers and a tassel key chain.

The bag is meant to represent the invisible abuse so many women face on a daily basis: financial abuse, something 99 percent of domestic violence victims experience. The annual October challenge galvanizes nonprofits across the country to raise money in support of domestic violence survivors. In 2017, the Purple Purse Challenge raised over $4 million, and since its inception in 2014, it has raised over $10 million.

Serena Williams attends the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse launch of a national street art campaign to raise domestic violence and financial abuse awareness in New York in June. (Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Serena Williams attends the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse launch of a national street art campaign to raise domestic violence and financial abuse awareness in New York in June. (Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

The funds raised go toward providing domestic violence survivors access to child care, food, and shelter, as well as financial training.

“When designing it, Serena Williams sought to create a purse that could house all the necessities for her daily life as she embarks on frequent travel, runs errands, continues to settle into motherhood, and pursues her entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavors,” Dinges shares with Yahoo Lifestyle. “She recognizes that all women — no matter what they do — rely on their purses to hold the tools essential for success in their daily lives. Designed to carry a woman’s everyday items, the backpack is practical, while making no sacrifice when it comes to style.”

The organization says that 300 of Serena Williams’s “Purple Purse” backpacks will be distributed to shelters across the country in an effort to raise money for those affected by domestic violence.

To date, more than $60 million has been invested to support over 1.3 million survivors. Although the backpack will not be for sale to the public, you can still do your own part to support domestic violence survivors by donating online or purchasing a purple tassel key chain for as little as $10 on purplepurse.com.

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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