Photo: Seeking Employment

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.


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