Photo: Keeping Employment

Keeping Employment

Once employed, women survivors may continue to experience employment instability as a result of IPV and TBI. Workplace disruptions such as on-the-job harassment, workplace time reductions, and job loss are commonly reported by women survivors of IPV.6 Additionally, they may experience challenges related to their TBI, such as cognitive fatigue or difficulty staying focused on tasks, difficulty remembering appointments, and slowed speed of processing.7-8 These difficulties may also affect their self-esteem, as they become more dependent on their colleagues for support7. This section on keeping employment outlines a list of challenges experienced by women survivors of IPV and TBI in keeping their job and ways in which service providers and employers can support them. It is important to note that not all employers will have policies and procedures for supporting survivors already in place and the suggestions noted below will not necessarily work in every circumstance.

Commonly experienced challenges & what you can do about it


  • Identify your workplace’s policies around disclosure (who you should tell, what they will do to support you)
  • Talk to your counsellor or support worker about your concerns and make a plan for how you are going to speak with your employer

Physical accommodation needs

  • Know your rights around accommodation and employer expectations
  • Check on provincial legislation governing disability accommodation
  • Make a list of your needs and suggestions for how your employer can accommodate them so you are prepared for the conversation
  • Speak to your employer about your specific accommodation needs

Safety planning

  • Speak with someone at your workplace around issues of safety and how they can help
  • Identify areas of risk and suggest ways your employer can help

Flexibility around work time

  • Talk to your employer about your situation as much as you are comfortable with and discuss the need for flexibility in your work hours
  • Come prepared to offer solutions about how you can get your work done


1Libeson, L., Downing, M., Ross, P., & Ponsford, J. (2020). The experience of return to work in individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI): A qualitative study. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 30(3), 412-429. DOI: 10.1080/09602011.2018.1470987

2Rothman, E. F., Hathaway, J., Stidsen, A., de Vries, H. F. (2007). How employment helps female victims of intimate partner violence: A qualitative study. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 12(2), 135-43. Doi: 10.1037/1076-8998.12.2.136

3Scaratti, C., Leonardi, M., Sattin, D., Schiavolin, S., Willems, M., & Raggi, A. (2016). Work-related difficulties in patients with traumatic brain injury: A systematic review on predictors and associated factors. Disability and Rehabilitation, 39(9), 847-855.

4Adams, A. E., Bybee, D., Tolman, R. M., Sullivan, C. M., & Kennedy, A. C. (2013). Does job stability mediate the relationship between intimate partner violence and mental health among low-income women? American Journal of Orthhopsychiatry, 83(4), 600-608.

5Swanberg, J. E., Logan, T. K., & Macke, C. (2005). Intimate partner violence, employment, and the workplace: Consequences and future directions. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 6(4), 286-312.

6Showalter, K., & McCloskey, R. J. (2020). A qualitative study of intimate partner violence and employment instability. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1-26. DOI: 10.1177/0886260520903140

7 Matérne, M., Lundqvist, L., Strandberg, T. (2017). Opportunities and barriers for successful return to work after acquired brain injury: A patient perspective. Work, 56, 125-134.

8McRae, P., Hallab, L., Simpson, G. (2016). Navigating employment pathways and supports following brain injury in Australia: Client perspectives. The Australian Journal of Rehabilitation Counselling, 22(2), 76-92. Doi: 10.1017/jrc.2016.14