Domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women – that’s more women than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer combined. Most people think only of physical abuse when they consider domestic violence. Yet, financial abuse happens in 98 percent of all cases of domestic violence and is one of the most powerful ways to control a victim and more often than not one of the reasons women stay in the relationship.

Financial abuse is just as effective in controlling an abuse victim as a lock and key – a secret prison no one speaks about. Her wages may be garnered, she may be denied access to bank accounts. 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. Victims often feel that they are left with no option but to stay in relationship with their abuser. And, crushing debt run up by an abuser means it could take a survivor and her children years to fully recover from abuse.

The YWCA Evanston/North Shore is in the midst of a month long campaign, the Allstate Purple Purse Challenge, to raise money for their domestic violence services, including financial education programs for survivors. Why a Purple Purse? Purple is the color of domestic violence awareness, and a purse represents a woman’s financial domain and symbolizes economic empowerment. Financial education, like that offered by the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, helps ensure the long-term stability and self-sufficiency of domestic violence survivors.

This month, many local figures have joined the Allstate Purple Purse Challenge, posing with purple purses in support of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore and their effort to raise awareness about domestic violence and support for survivors.

Thanks to this outpouring of support, the YWCA Evanston/North Shore is currently in second place out of 140 domestic violence service providers nationwide competing in the Purple Purse Challenge. The winner will receive an additional $100,000 to support their services to survivors, a grant that could make an enormous difference to women and their children who are desperate for a way out. Learn more at