For many of us it’s hard to believe a loved one, especially a spouse, could ever raise a hand to us or an eyebrow to others. But it happens. More often than one might think or even notice, and the numbers are staggering. 42.4 million women and 1 in 10 men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Many years ago, I ended up being stalked by a guy I dated at work. He was never emotionally or physically abusive to me, and was really sweet… until I tried to break it off with him. He wasn’t happy about it, and started displaying some peculiar – and eventually scary – behavior. And when I stopped answering his calls and avoiding him at work? He responded by showing up to my house in the middle of the night and largely carving his initials in two of my tires. I never reported this, mind you, to my employer or the authorities. Why? Because it never went beyond this scary action. Thankfully, I have never heard from him again. Other women, men and pets aren’t as lucky.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically.
Here in our Central Florida community, we are very fortunate to have Harbor House of Central Florida on our side. Harbor House’s mission is to provide safe shelter, a 24-hour crisis hotline, counseling, and emotional support, and legal advocacy for thousands of domestic violence survivors and their children each year. According to Michelle Palmer, Central Florida’s Chief Development Officer, they extend far beyond Central Florida in many cases. “What most people don’t realize is there’s a tremendous correlation between domestic abuse and economic abuse. One of the reasons women don’t leave often is financial abuse because they don’t know where the money is, nothing’s in their name, they don’t have the means to leave and they feel trapped.” You can help, and they even have an app to help YOU – R3 (Recognize, Response, Refer) App (iOS / Android).
Enter: The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge, a fundraising campaign for charities benefiting domestic violence Survivors. Michelle and our friends at Harbor House of Central Florida are very excited and rightfully so! “The Allstate Foundation is sponsoring! We were actually privileged to be chosen as part of a small group of organizations nationally to talk about economic empowerment and what that means,” said Michelle during last week’s kick-off event at Kate Spade in Mall at Millenia.
“What we’re doing right now through the Purple Purse Campaign is trying to communicate – What does it MEAN to be financially empowered? What does it look like? We’re trying to raise the awareness so people understand the importance of, “I have my name on my bank accounts. I have an equal say in where our money is spent and where our money is saved. I know where our money is,” and elevate that discussion to a national level. We’re proud to be a part of that, and Kate Spade is helping us launch that effort tonight.”
What a night it was! Kate Spade Millenia donated a gorgeous purple purse. Also, Gifn goofiness happened. We even participated in a Google+ Hangout on Air with Chef Dennis inside Kate Spade! Couldn’t make it out to the launch party? Don’t worry! The Purple Purse Challenge runs from September 2nd to October 3rd. Our friends at Harbor House of Central Florida promise more fun soon. Make sure to keep an eye peeled on their Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts for more activities, contests and some REALLY COOL prizes.
Thanks to Kate Spade and their stellar Purple Purse Challenge launch party, everyone who attended and donated helped make Harbor House of Central Florida a Top Ten organization and earned them $5,500 in donation matches from the Allstate Foundation!
If you know of anyone in crisis, or are in crisis yourself, please call Harbor House of Central Florida’s 24-Hour Crisis Hotline http://www.harborhousefl.com. Together we can #EndTheSilence.(TDD) 1-800-500-1119 (FL) or 911. Find out more about how you can help Harbor House of Central Florida by visiting their website,