Does your partner use your credit card without telling you? Does your spouse block you from getting a job or going back to school?
Such actions may signal you are a victim of financial abuse, and tennis star Serena Williams wants you to know the signs.
“It’s a weapon that keeps people trapped in abusive relationships,” Williams told USA TODAY, speaking of her role as ambassador for the Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse program, which focuses on the issue. “One in four women will experience domestic violence, and this is to help woman and communities throughout America find a way (out of) abuse through financial education and empowerment. That’s my big message.’’
Williams is starring in a public service announcement for the Purple Purse program called “Signs.” In the video, she walks through a maze as her voice over notes some of the behaviors that can signal financial abuse – like your partner wanting to review receipts for everything you buy or taking your paycheck, then spending it however they choose.
Such actions are present in 99% of domestic violence cases, according to Ellen Lisak, Purple Purse’s senior program officer.
“We think this is still an issue that needs a lot of education and a lot of awareness,” she says, adding that research conducted last year by the program found nearly half of Americans weren’t familiar with the issue of financial abuse and its warning signs.
“I think a lot of us, whether we admit it or not, know people in our lives who’ve been though domestic abuse,” says Williams. “I have a friend, a really, really close friend of mine who’d been involved in a really unfortunate situation… it’s difficult for them, but it’s also difficult for the people around you who love you and care about you.’’
Disability not a barrier:Disability not a barrier: At a time of low unemployment, employers tap a new talent pool
Walmart and guns: Walmart says assault weapons ban should be discussed in the wake of mass shootings
Williams says there are lessons that she wants to eventually pass along to her daughter, Alexis.
“One message I want to teach her is to always have the confidence to stay financially independent,’’ Williams says. “It’s okay to be stable on your own, and (say) ‘we can do a lot of things together as well.’ ’’
For those who are facing abuse, there are ways to seek help.
“If someone thinks they or someone they know is in an abusive situation they can always call the National Domestic Violence hotline for immediate help,” Lisak says. And “if you think someone you know is being abused…approach them without judgment or criticism. Let them know that you’re there for them.”