“It is estimated that about 3.3 million children each year witness the domestic abuse of their mothers and I was one of those children,” Allstate officer John Rugel wrote in his blog post on Allstate’s employee community site on September 23, 2013. Rugel is successful now, a Senior Vice President in Allstate Financial. But, growing up, he saw first hand the costs of mental and physical abuse—and the way that financial empowerment could help break the cycle.
After years of abuse and of turning all the money she made over to her husband, Rugel’s mother took charge of her situation, began keeping her paychecks and opened her own checking account. “With that money, my mother, brother and I left my father,” Rugel wrote.
“Often, we find it easier to talk with a stranger about the weather or the game, than to a friend or family member about our concern for their well-being, when we suspect domestic violence. While there is much less stigma around discussing the issue, we still have some work to do. Even my mother’s sisters, as angry and upset as they were when they finally learned about what was happening, are still a bit uncomfortable about me talking openly about the issue,” Rugel added. “I’m proud to work for a company that has dedicated over $30 million of funding toward helping remove that stigma and understanding the importance of financial literacy as an integral component of breaking the cycle of abuse.”
Domestic violence affects one in every four women during their lifetime—touching the lives of more women than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer combined. Beyond the right of every person to live a life free from violence, there is an economic cost to abuse as well. Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the U.S. alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs. In the United States, the cost of domestic violence approaches $5.8 billion per year. That breaks down to $4.1 billion in direct medical and health care services and $1.7 billion in productivity losses.
We financially empowered 171,000 domestic violence survivors in 2013.
Since 2005, The Allstate Foundation has partnered with the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), along with other leading national and local programs, to help break the cycle of domestic violence through the financial empowerment of survivors. Research shows the primary reason women remain in or return to an abusive relationship is because they don’t have the financial resources to break free and stay free. The financial impact of domestic abuse can last for 10 to 20 years while the survivor works to repair or build credit, create assets, and secure employment, housing, childcare and transportation.
Our multi-tiered approach to helping end domestic violence creates lasting impact. The key program strategies include:
Direct Services—Grant programs empower survivors to gain or regain control of their finances in order to get free and stay free from violence. This includes financial tools and information that can enable survivors of domestic abuse to fully understand and take control of their financial futures and the asset building strategies to help make their goals a reality.
Public Awareness—Inspiring programs like Purple Purse help increase understanding of and change societal attitudes about domestic violence and financial abuse—inspiring people to speak up and join the movement.
Thought Leadership—We are committed to developing, researching and sharing the best ideas in financial empowerment for domestic violence survivors and their families. Over the last ten years, through academic research, capacity-building conferences and cutting-edge polling, we have become a leader in the movement to end domestic violence.
Since our program began, we have served 384,000 domestic violence survivors.
We expect to reach our goal of 500,000 by our target date of 2015.
This year, we reached more domestic violence survivors than ever before, providing services and support to some 171,000 women. Since we began our program in 2005, we have helped more than 384,000 survivors across the country take steps toward financial independence. We are very close to our long-term goal of 500,000.
In September 2013, The Allstate Foundation and NNEDV held the partnership’s ninth annual Financial Empowerment Symposium. During the two-day event, domestic violence prevention advocates learned how to help survivors navigate the complex world of student loans, housing loans, low-income tax credits, the Affordable Care Act, career development, and building and managing assets. Since our program started, we’ve trained more than 7,200 advocates from 1,500 organizations throughout the nation to help survivors in new and innovative ways.
For the first time, in 2013, The Allstate Foundation held an award dinner to honor five Allstate agency owners or financial specialists involved in the fight to end domestic violence:
Laura Aguilera, agency owner, San Jose, California; Michele Martin, agency owner, Northport, New York; Tara Schultz, agency owner, Kimberly, Wisconsin; John Sells, agency owner, Bowling Green, Kentucky; and Ron Williford, exclusive financial specialist, Devon, Pennsylvania. Since 2010, the Foundation has successfully been growing and engaging the Allstate Against Abuse Team – a passionate group of nearly 300 agency owners and personal financial specialists who have volunteered to help survivors in their communities achieve their financial goals and live free from abuse.
Purple Purse makes it easier to talk about a subject widely considered as taboo. It includes activities designed to educate, engage and empower individuals. Purple is the color of domestic violence, and a purse represents a woman’s financial domain, important because the number one reason survivors remain in, or return to, an abusive relationship is that they don’t have the financial resources to live independently. Last year, more than 1,000 purple purses filled with domestic violence information and resources were passed around in communities and online. Each pass generated a donation to YWCAs across the country for programs that help survivors gain the financial resources they need to break free from abuse.
In 2013, more than 4,125 Allstate employees participated in our
Purple Purse program to raise awareness about domestic violence.
The simple Purple Purse icon is designed to pique consumer curiosity and reach broad new audiences in unexpected, non-threatening and compelling ways. The purse has been passed by synchronized swimmers, high school athletes and cheerleaders, news anchors, doctors, and people from all walks of life. Last year, the public awareness program was mentioned nearly 3,000 times in the media, generating more than 188 million media impressions and $350,000 for potentially life saving services at YWCAs across the nation.
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