Serena Williams works with the Allstate Foundation to call attention to signs of financial abuse

The Allstate Foundation is working with tennis star Serena Williams on a public service campaign to call attention to financial abuse.

Williams is a philanthropist and Allstate Foundation Purple Purse program ambassador, and her inclusion helps raise awareness of the signs of financial abuse. ‘Invisible Weapon’ is a video that sheds light on a controlling tactic frequently used by domestic violence abusers, and one of the primary reasons victims stay in or return to abusive relationships. The urgent call for support for domestic violence survivors coincides with the start of the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge, which runs through Oct. 31.

Propelled by a powerful narrative from Williams, ‘Invisible Weapon,’ by Leo Burnett Chicago, dramatizes the differences between the clear visual signs of physical abuse and the invisible signs of financial abuse, exposing the hidden challenges victims face. “If I had black eyes and broken bones, you’d notice…if I had marks on my arms and fear in my voice, you’d notice…but what about the abuse you can’t see?” asks the voice over. The video closes with a call-to-action for people to help empower survivors in their communities.

"For more than a decade, The Allstate Foundation has put a spotlight on this devastating issue, stood up for the victims who have been silenced, and given hope to the survivors trying to break free," said Vicky Dinges, Allstate's senior vice president of corporate relations. "Everyone needs to care about this pervasive issue. With Serena joining us to deliver this important message in 'Invisible Weapon,' we hope more men and women will speak up about domestic violence and financial abuse and be compelled to end it – once and for all."

From restrictions on spending to ruined credit, the signs of financial abuse are often invisible, and many people don't even know it exists. According to a 2018 national public opinion survey conducted by The Allstate Foundation, nearly 50% of respondents are unaware that financial abuse is a form of domestic violence.

"I'm proud to speak up for women who can't use their voices, and let them know we're working to end the cycle of abuse," said Williams in a release. "I hope that after viewing the video, people will be more aware of the hidden signs of financial abuse and they'll understand the need to help those who've been burdened by it."

The organization directs the public to take action by donating to domestic violence nonprofits through the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge on PurplePurse.com. It states that many of these organizations are faced with immense funding challenges. On a single day in 2017, more than 11,000 calls for help from domestic violence victims went unanswered due to the lack of nonprofit resources and staff to address the victims' needs, according to the release. Championed by The Allstate Foundation, nearly 300 domestic violence nonprofits from across the US are participating in the 2018 Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge. Now in its fifth year, the annual fundraiser coincides with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Funds raised by participating nonprofits will go toward providing life-changing services for survivors and their families, such as financial aid and financial empowerment, emergency shelter and child care, and food and transportation.

Since the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge began in 2014, it has raised nearly $10 million for state and local domestic violence nonprofit organizations. Since 2005, The Foundation has invested more than $60m to help empower more than 1.3 million survivors.

In addition to the film, Williams has also designed a limited-edition purple backpack to help raise funds for the cause during the Challenge. View it here. Earlier this year, The Allstate Foundation and Williams launched a national street art campaign, also created by Leo Burnett Chicago, to spark conversation about this important issue through public murals containing hidden messages.

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