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Seeking Employment

Survivors of TBI and IPV experience challenges in seeking employment. For example, women who lost their jobs due to IPV may suffer mental health challenges or have a sporadic work history that affects their ability to get hired.6 Individuals returning to work after sustaining a TBI report fear of seeking a new job due to difficulty learning new things (e.g., new routines, colleagues, and computer systems).7 This section on seeking employment outlines a list of challenges experienced by women survivors of IPV and TBI when finding work and ways in which service providers can support them.

Commonly experienced challenges & what you can do about it

Disability related challenges

  • Know your rights around accommodation and employer expectations
  • Talk to an employment counsellor who is knowledgeable about disability concerns
  • Check with local disability support organizations and/or local brain injury support organizations to see if they can suggest available employment supports
  • Ask your support providers if there are local employers who are disability and/or IPV informed and may be better equipped to accommodate a survivor’s needs

Identifying Appropriate Jobs

  • Talk to an employment counsellor
  • Make a list of jobs you would like and discuss them with your counsellor
  • Explore ‘Skills Matching’ options
  • Think about what you are good at and what you would like to do
  • Dare to Dream! Talk to your IPV and/or TBI support professionals about how to achieve your employment goals.

Resume writing

  • Get help from an employment centre
  • Follow other examples
  • Ask your IPV and/or TBI support providers for referral to employment support agencies
  • Help identify strengths and write them down
  • Support in reframing strengths and skills into transferable job skills

Discussing work history, particularly if it has been interrupted as a result of IPV can be triggering to some survivors. Be prepared to help a survivor work through this as you work through building or revising their resume.

Interview protocols

  • Ask advice from support providers (e.g. counsellors, advisors, employment centres) about what to expect in an interview, what clothing is appropriate, and how to address any safety concerns you have
  • Role play answering typical questions with a friend or counsellor
  • Make a plan for what you will do if you start to feel uncomfortable during an interview

The uncertainty around what an interview experience will be like can be a source of anxiety for survivors. Working through some potential scenarios ahead of time can help quell that anxiety.

References

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. http://doi.org/10.3109/09638288.2016.1162854

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. http://doi.org/10.1111/ajop.12053

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. http://doi.org/10.1177/1524838005280506

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. https://doi.org/10.3233/wor-162468

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