Earlier this summer, following a disappointing loss at the Wimbledon finals, Serena Williams told reporters, “The day I stop fighting for equality and for people that look like you and me will be the day I’m in my grave.”
Williams continues to make good on her word, this time launching a new film that seeks to draw more attention to financial abuse, a control tactic present in 99 percent of all domestic violence cases, according to one recent study. Still, nearly half of Americans aren’t aware of the problem—or its warning signs.
In her new PSA, created in partnership with the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, Williams lists examples of the different manifestations of financial abuse: a partner who takes credit cards in your name and maxes them out, controls your paychecks, demands receipts for every purchase, or stops you from working.
With each example, Williams encounters another roadblock in an electric maze.
“These are signs of financial abuse, and financial abuse is one of the main reasons victims of domestic violence can’t leave,” Williams says in a voiceover.
“I am a longtime champion of standing up for what you believe in, and I am proud to use my voice for anyone who can’t use theirs,” Williams said in a press release. “I hope this piece helps put a spotlight on the hidden signs of financial abuse, sparks meaningful conversations with loved ones and creates an understanding that we need to be advocates and allies for those around us.”
Black women, in particular, are more likely to experience domestic violence than white women—at rates of 30 to 50 percent higher, according to some studies, and financial insecurity plays a substantial role. Research shows domestic violence occurs more often in households with financial insecurity; as it currently stands, the black unemployment rate is nearly double that of white people.
Add to this the shame many feel as victims of abuse, as well as fear and distrust of the legal system, and black women are particularly vulnerable compared to other women.
The PSA is the first under the Purple Purse’s “Know Financial Abuse, No Domestic Violence” campaign, which will ramp up during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.