For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Emmy award winning journalist and talk show host Tamron Hall has partnered with The Purple Leash Project to help abuse survivors and their pets. Only 15% domestic violence shelters in the United States accept pets and nearly half of abuse victims will postpone leaving their abuser if they can’t bring their pet with them to a shelter.
The Purple Leash Project, founded by Purina and RedRover, is setting its sights on making 25% of domestic violence shelters pet-friendly by 2025. Hall lost her sister to domestic violence in 2004 and tells The Root that being involved with initiatives like these helps her turn that pain into something that can help others:
“[The Purple Leash Project] gives me a direction, it gives me a North Star and a focus. It helps me not focus on the fact that [her sister’s death] is an unsolved crime. It helps me not focus on the fact that I beat myself up for many, many years wondering if I could have said something different or if I could have done something different. So being able to have this conversation where it’s focused and where it is about helping others allows my mind not to wander into spaces that aren’t productive and aren’t healthy.”
Hall adds that Black women—40% of whom will experience domestic violence in their lifetime—are frequently encouraged to tolerate abuse and wear their pain with pride. “But what consequences does that badge of honor bring to our lives?” she asked. Hall then explained:
“A big part of the conversation is to say, domestic violence is not a Black, white, Latino, Asian, Indigenous issue. It’s a societal issue across the board. However, there are nuanced conversations and conversations in the right context that we have to have as Black people—and how we talk about violence against Black women.”
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The journalist does acknowledge that even though how we talk about and deal with domestic violence can improve, she knows the conversation has become more open:
“When I grew up, I remember hearing so many times about police officers, for example, who dreaded taking domestic violence calls because they didn’t wanna be trapped in the middle. When I was a kid, I would remember hearing someone say, ‘That’s their business.’ You know, what happens in their home stays in their home, things like that. We are hearing [that] less and less but that doesn’t mean they still don’t exist.”
The Purple Leash Project has also opened Hall’s eyes to the reality of how pets can serve as support for survivors:
“I’ve covered hurricanes, I’ve covered storms where you see the images, and I’ve talked with people who say, ‘I don’t wanna leave my pet, I don’t wanna leave my pet’ even though they’re in harm’s way of Mother Nature. I’d never heard the heartbreaking number of people who delay leaving [their abusers] because they have nowhere to take their pet, [which are] their family members. Purina has this pledge now to have 25% of shelters in this country be pet friendly, that means that someone has one less thing to worry about, one less thing to keep them in that home.”
Ultimately, Hall’s partnership is a continued effort to help survivors feel less alone. “For me, what we’re doing is to let people know you’re not alone and we’re thinking of you. We’re thinking of your children, we’re thinking of your pets, and no stone will go unturned.”