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Washington Voices

YWCA campaign aimed at raising domestic violence awareness

Thu., Oct. 10, 2013, midnight

The YWCA is passing 10 purple purses around town during October, creating awareness about domestic violence and hoping to collect enough online purse check-ins to earn a $10,000 grant from The Allstate Foundation.

October is domestic violence awareness month and Meagan Pierluissi, marketing and development coordinator at the YWCA, said Spokane is among 230 YWCAs across the country that have been chosen to participate in the fundraising campaign.

“The main thing we have to do is rally people and get them to check in online,” Pierluissi said.

Here’s how it works: Inside every purse is a five-number code; the holder of the purse goes to and types in the code and that counts as a purse check-in. Every time a purse is checked in, the YWCA receives a $5 donation from the Allstate Foundation. If the purse is passed and checked in online 1,000 times during October the Allstate Foundation will double the grant to $10,000.

“Actually, you don’t even have to have the purse – you can just enter a code you get from us,” Pierluissi said, adding that the Purple Purse Campaign does two things: It raises money and it raises awareness about domestic violence. “Domestic violence is still something it’s very difficult to talk about.”

Erica Schreiber, women’s opportunity center manager at the YWCA, said that Spokane has some of the highest domestic violence rates in the state.

“Many domestic violence cases are never reported,” Schreiber said. “And many people don’t know that domestic violence doesn’t have to be physical.” A partner who controls money, freedom to move around or access to life necessities is also committing domestic violence.

The YWCA provides many resources for battered women, including shelter and clothing, as well as job training, legal help and child care.

“With the Purple Purse Campaign we also want to encourage people to talk about domestic violence,” Pierluissi said. “Would you know what to do if a woman comes to you and says she’s battered at home?”

Schreiber said one in four women experiences domestic violence at some point in their life.

“And that number goes across all ethnic and economic groups,” she added.

The Purple Purse website is full of information about domestic violence prevention, including specific tools that may help a woman who is in an abusive relationship, or help her friends find ways to help her.

“Domestic violence impacts everyone in the community,” Schreiber said.

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