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Kerry Washington attends the 2014 Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Program Hosted By Kerry Washington at The Glasshouses on September 15, 2014 in New York City.
Laura Cavanaugh—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Fans of Kerry Washington, known for her chic looks on her show Scandal as well as the red carpet, may have noticed she’s been toting purple purses. She carried a deep purple Prada clutch at both the Emmys and the NAACP Image awards this year, and an amethyst bag around New York City this week. But turns out the purses aren’t just a fashion statement: she’s dressing for a cause.

On Monday night, the Django Unchained actress hosted the launch of the 2014 Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Program dedicated to educating women about domestic violence and financial abuse. “One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence,” Kerry says in a PSA for the organization. “Finances are almost always a weapon of choice. Taking away access to cash, destroying credit, jeopardizing jobs; financial abuse leaves invisible bruises that can take decades to heal.”

The purple purse, she explains, is a metaphor. Purple is the color of domestic violence awareness, and — as Olivia Pope would know — the purse is the source of a woman’s power.

Kerry Washington carries a purple Prada clutch at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (Steve Granitz—WireImage/Getty Images)
Kerry Washington carries a purple Prada clutch at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards
Steve Granitz—WireImage/Getty Images

Washington, who welcomed her first child with husband and former NFL player Nnamdi Asomugha in April, designed the purple purse she has been carrying to raise money for the initiative. Only 500 will be made: some will be given to celebrities to carry on the red carpet to draw attention to the issue, some sold as fundraisers and others gifted to domestic abuse survivors.

The actress’ campaign comes at an important moment in the cultural conversation about domestic abuse. Investigations into NFL players Ray Rice and Ray McDonald have sparked conversations about how women get trapped in abusive relationships and why they stay in them.

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