October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. While many of us feel confident about what relationship behaviors fall under this category, the prevalence of financial abuse is often overlooked.

Serena Williams has again partnered with The Allstate Foundation on the “No Financial Abuse. No Domestic Violence” campaign. Its mission is to expose the often missed signs of domestic violence and financial abuse, and educate the public on how to protect themselves and their finances.

ESSENCE had the opportunity to speak with Williams and financial abuse survivor Terara about the importance of the message behind this campaign. The tennis champion, who is a third-year program ambassador, says she’s learned so much since taking on this project. “Financial abuse affects 99% of most domestic violence cases,” she said during a recent Yes, Girl! podcast episode. “So that’s a huge number, and when I first heard that number, I was like, ‘How do I not know about it?’ You would think with that statistic, most people would know about it. But we don’t. I wanted to use my platform and my voice to let people know that financial abuse is not okay.”

Financial abuse is often hard to recognize and easy to hide. Some of the common tactics include having a partner put restrictions on your spending, ruining your credit, identity theft or having a partner force you to miss work. Terera made the difficult decision to leave a financially abusive relationship, though it took some preparation and help from her community. “There’s a lot that you have to think about when you’re trying to leave an abusive relationship,” she says. “It might take a little bit of time to get financially able to put that money aside so that you can actually leave and then be self-sufficient, so you don’t feel like you need to go back.”

The Allstate Foundation and Allstate Foundation Purple Purse ambassador Serena Williams issued a PSA shedding light on the often hard-to-see signs of financial abuse.

The Allstate Foundation and Williams urge everyone to do their part to empower victims to break free and remain free from abuse by learning the signs of financial abuse and having conversations around the topic if they suspect they know someone who needs help. If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 800-787-3224.

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