HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Domestic Violence Awareness Month kicks off October 1, and a Midstate organization is stepping in to help victims get back on their feet through a unique challenge.
It may look like an ordinary purse, but the purpose behind it goes well beyond its bright purple color.
“We want to raise awareness about the common form of abuse called economic abuse and the financial needs of domestic violence survivors,” said Peg Dierkers, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence is one of about 200 organizations taking part in the Purple Purse Challenge. They are competing for $500,000 in total prize money awarded by the Allstate Foundation.
You can donate to the challenge online, and the person who donates the most amount of money will win the purse. It’s designed by Scandal’s Kerry Washington.
Only one person will win the purse, but everyone who donates will get a free purple charm tassel.
The money will help domestic violence victims who lack the financial resources to leave their abusers.
“They lose their ability really to get around in the world and typically can’t go to work or get to work,” Dierkers said. “They might lose child care, and they lose all sense of self-esteem and self-confidence that they’re able to take care of themselves.”
The YWCA of Greater Harrisburg is one of the organizations that helps domestic violence victims with money from the Coalition.
“They’re lifesaving services first of all. There are so many women whose abusers isolate them, cut them off from friends and family, and they really have nowhere to turn and nowhere to go,” said Rhonda Hendrickson, director of violence intervention and prevention services for the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg.
Some of those services include a 24-hour hotline, 30-day emergency shelter, counseling, and legal and medical help.
141 Pennsylvanians died last year from domestic violence, including 14 from the Midstate. Seven of the victims were from York County. The youngest victim was a baby, and the oldest person was 92.
“This is a public health crisis. It’s happening to your neighbors. It’s right in your backyard,” Hendrickson said.
The Coalition says its 60 domestic violence centers help about 85,000 victims each year. One in four women and one in three younger women experience domestic violence, according to Dierkers.
“98 percent of victims of domestic violence stay with their abuser because of a lack of financial resources,” Dierkers said.
You can donate to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Purple Purse Challenge by clicking here. The contest runs through October 27.