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Despite being passionate about women’s empowerment and domestic violence issues for years,Scandal actress Kerry Washington had never heard of financial abuse – the tactics abusers use to keep victims feeling trapped, like restricting their access to credit cards or legal and financial support.

“It turns out that 98 percent of all domestic violence cases involve financial abuse, so it’s a huge reason for why women stay in abusive relationships and why they go back after they leave,” Washington tells PEOPLE. “They feel they don’t have the tools to take care of themselves and their families.”

When the Allstate Foundation approached Washington to design a purple purse to promote the issue in 2014, she didn’t quite understand the purse part – until it really clicked.

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Scandal’s Kerry Washington Designs Purse To Raise Money For Domestic Violence Services  was originally published on