Belfast Telegraph

Washington: I want to empower

Kerry Washington is raising funds for the Allstate Foundation to help empower women to leave abusive relationships.

The Scandal star recently unveiled a new limited-edition bag she designed to raise awareness for domestic violence and financial abuse as part of Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse Program.

But she hopes one day she’ll no longer need to be a part of such causes, with the goal of eventually eradicating violence against women.

"For many years I've worked with VDay… We've always said we wanted to put ourselves out of business at VDay by ending violence against women,” she explained. “So when this opportunity came along, it just felt like a way for me to be a part of a very tangible, concrete solution; giving women the tools they need to be more economically self-sufficient and more empowered to take care of themselves and to walk away."

The purse itself is symbolic of the cause. Kerry explained purple is the colour for domestic violence awareness, and the handbag represents “where a woman's economic power lives”.

“It's where we keep our keys and our phone and wallet; all of that, our economic well-being, lives in our purse. So the bag is really a symbol of taking your purse strings back, taking your strength back in the face of abuse,” she explained.

The actress admitted designing fashion items may sound like a “quick fix” to raise awareness about the issue. But the Purple Purse initiative had actually raised more than $500,000 at press time. The money will be used to benefit domestic violence survivors.

“I don't want to make it sound like this is a quick fix, but 98 per cent of domestic violence cases involve financial abuse,” she explained. “When we say financial abuse it means controlling finances, destroying someone's credit, jeopardising their employment, these are all ways money is used to control in an abusive situation and make someone feel like they can't leave or making it almost impossible for someone to leave."

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