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Domestic violence affects one in four women in her lifetime – that’s more women than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer combined. Two-thirds of Americans believe that domestic violence is a serious problem, yet just over 1 in 3 have ever talked about it. Allstate Foundation Purple Purse aims to make it fashionable to talk about this difficult topic.
I experienced domestic violence first hand while growing up; I've witnessed verbal, emotional, physical and financial abuse but it wasn't until I moved in with my first boyfriend that I experienced personally what it is to be a victim of domestic abuse.
Now as a Christian adult I see and understand that I shouldn't have even been living out of wedlock and that, that brought along a slew of consequences but that is a whole other post. I was young, just 20 or so, we had been together going on 4 years and throughout those years, now looking back I realize that I was in an abusive relationship.
There were certain songs I wasn't allowed to listen to because he felt they were making me reminisce about old boyfriends. I knew if I visited certain friends in my hometown I would come home to tension, indifference and ultimately an argument. For whatever reason back then (2003/04) a person could reply to a text right away but you wouldn't receive the response until 3am. Those were the worst because then I got the "who is texting you at this time". Not even my father or my older brothers policed me like he did. I grew up very strong willed, independent, I had been through U.S Army Basic Training, to me I was confident and secure of my five foot ten frame so it was rare that I was afraid. I always fought back, stood up for myself, expressed my feelings, I never wanted to back down. But as strong & tough as I thought I was, he still managed to consistently emotionally abuse me. He would insult me, break up with me for no reason, tell me to leave out of the blue, stood me up often, would use my car whenever he felt like it, made me miss classes, take out his anger and depression on me and yet out of "love" I always came back.
The Allstate Foundation is investing more than half a million dollars in the Purple Purse Challenge. The more donations each nonprofit gets, the more it can compete for Allstate Foundation incentive funding. Go to PurplePurse.com between Sept. 2 and Oct. 3 to join the Challenge and help a nonprofit near you. Kerry Washington, Emmy-nominated actress and domestic violence activist, is serving as a Purple Purse ambassador to help raise awareness for the cause and has designed a limited-edition purple purse. The purse was created to represent the center of a woman’s financial domain and to inspire women to reclaim their financial independence.
Most people think only of physical abuse when they consider domestic violence. Yet, financial abuse happens in 98% of all cases of domestic violence and is one of the most powerful ways to keep a victim trapped. Thankfully this isn't the type of financial abuse I endured however he would overdraw our joint account and use our rent money to go drinking with his friends which may not sound so serious but when you are the one working a full time job to earn a living while going to school full time it is abuse. Many times I would have to ask a friend to loan me money to prevent the account from overdrawing or to make rent. As someone who aimed to be independent and successful it was belittling and embarrassing to have a "man" who takes your money and your friends know about it.
"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."
That was the case with me also, together he and I racked up my credit cards with the promise that he would help pay them off or with the excuse that he didn't have credit so we should use mine. A debt I am still carrying around today, so many years later.
During heated arguments he would "man handle" me, push me, grab me tightly by the arms but like I said I always fought back, I was never scared or frightened. I knew it wasn't right but but I never really saw it as abuse until I was out of the relationship.
The worst of the abuse or I guess I should say the final straw was after a girls night out in the city. It is crazy because up until that night I have never felt that the The Lord/ Holy Spirit has spoken to me but for whatever reason even as someone who wasn't' serving The Lord, I felt it, I knew when I got home it was not going to be good. I even said it to my friend, probably half joking but I felt it in my spirit. Sadly it was just as I had thought.
I laid there in bed slightly terrified, why hadn't I just drove to my parent's I am not sure, I think I thought he really wasn't capable of hurting me. But he did. He pulled the blanket off of me and proceeded to yell and argue. We got into a pull and tug, he gripped me up/ man handled me. I was trying to simply break free to grab my keys to leave to my parent's home. When he finally "agreed" to just let me leave it wasn't before first throwing a beer bottle at me, luckily I was quick to move or the hole in the wall it left would have been my thigh instead.
Once in the car I thought I was safe, apparently not. He followed me to the car and then for the first time in our whole relationship I was scared. He pulled my hair, pulling some out, the main reason I am naturally curly toda. You can't really get a chemical relaxer done when you have a bald spot the size of a golf ball at the top of your head. He pulled and shoved me around; we were wrestling in the car. All I wanted to do was get out of the car and run but I couldn't, he had me by my hair. In the midst of it all he said to me "tonight you're going to die" his intentions were to crash the car and kill us or maybe just me who knows. I fought, I fought for my life in the process biting him in him so he would let my hair go. But didn't see how I was going to get out of the car while he was driving and didn't understand why no one saw or heard anything, I literally felt like i was in a Lifetime Network movie. Then "out of no where"(My God) an off duty police officer drove by and stopped the car since it was in the middle of the street. He asked what was the problem and of course my ex-boyfriend said that there was none but I explained he wouldn't give me my car and keys. He instructed him to do so and I was able to drive away.
I didn't leave him right away because of logistics but I did leave, there were days that I threatened to beat him with a bat and burn him alive among other things to scare him from trying to hurt me again. Of course like most abusers they say it wasn't them, that it was a one time thing, that they don't know what happened. I knew better though, I knew it could happen again and I knew that although even if he wasn't lying and never put his hands on me again or threatened to take my life the financial abuse and emotional abuse would remain. It took a toll on me emotionally and prevented me for giving my all in future relationships but thankfully with the help of The Lord I have been able to heal from that hurt. It took me a long time to tell my mother or anyone for that matter but today I share my story to inspire you and give you the courage to share yours. I share my story to let you know that God knows and is watching and is there to help, just take the leap of faith and speak up and ask for help. Tell someone.
You can help ensure domestic violence survivors – likely someone you know – aren't financially trapped in an abusive relationship by joining the Purple Purse Challenge. Open your heart and wallet to stand up for survivors and the organizations that serve them at PurplePurse.com. Since 2005, The Allstate Foundation has invested more than $40 million across the country to help domestic violence survivors regain control of their finances and break free from abuse. 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.
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I'M ALICIA GIBBS
Faith + Family!
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