Maybe you find that stunning, or maybe you already knew. One way or the other, it's something we don't talk about frequently or honestly enough. So let me say it again: one in four American women will experience domestic violence in her life.
That means around 40 million American women alive today will one day experience domestic violence. It's more than 1.5 million women living in Illinois, and almost two-thirds of a million women in Cook County. It's a lot of people, and (unfortunately counter to a lot of portrayals of abuse we see in the media) they exist in every neighborhood, age group, ethnicity, religion, and socioeconomic class.
These numbers approach epidemic proportions, and that's something people recognize. Two-thirds of Americans believe that domestic violence is a serious problem. Unfortunately, only around one-third have ever talked about it.
To address the prevalence of domestic violence, we need good public policy that protects victims. We certainly need to support service providers that provide safety and legal protections to survivors and their children. But we also need to increase awareness with a robust, honest, difficult public dialogue about the topic.
This brings me to the Purple Purse Challenge, a partnership between many non-profit service providers and the Allstate Foundation. The idea is for people to post photos of themselves with a purple purse online, with the goal of sparking discussion about domestic violence and raising funds for service providers.
The YWCA Evanston/North Shore is the only comprehensive residential domestic violence service provider in the northeastern Chicago metropolitan area. They do extraordinary work, and I was honored that they asked me to participate in the Purple Purse Challenge to benefit that work. Let's do whatever we can to make our community safe for every woman -- three out of four isn't just acceptable.