Abusers often sabotage their partners’ efforts to become financially independent. An abuser may confiscate and destroy documents and other materials a survivor needs in her quest for employment; inflict visible signs of abuse so as to embarrass the survivor and discourage her from attending a job interview or work upon hire; and interfere with her ability to work once she has obtained a job by harassing her at her place of employment. Studies have documented high rates of work-related lost productivity and job loss directly related to experiences of victimization (Workplaces Respond to Domestic and Sexual Violence: A National Resource Center).
Employment provides a wealth of benefits, including healthcare, employee assistance programs, basic social interaction, intellectual stimulation, and greater confidence and self-esteem. To realize these benefits, survivors often need support to enter or re-enter the workforce. Since abusers tend to limit or sabotage their victims' job seeking and employment opportunities, survivors may be in need of job skills training, interview and resume writing practice and tips, and resources to find jobs. Further, some survivors may have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time and will need guidance on current trends related to job seeking (for example, use of search engines to locate job opportunities, increased use of email communication to secure job interviews or offers, social media engagement to increase marketability and search for job openings).
How can you help improve opportunities for survivors to re-enter the workforce?
1. Donate Professional Clothing, Become a Job Coach/Mentor
Dress for Success
For those individuals who do not have the time or resources to dedicate to job skills training, resume writing, or interview skill development, donating an interview suit or general business attire can help a survivor of domestic violence start over in the working world. Individuals can organize clothing drives, or simply donate their own work clothing to survivors through Dress for Success. Founded in New York City in 1997, Dress for Success is an international nonprofit organization offering services designed to help women find jobs and remain employed. Each woman receives one suit when she has a job interview and can return for a second suit or separates when she finds work. In addition to providing clothing, Dress for Success also developed a Professional Women’s Group, which offers women ongoing support as they enter into the workforce, as well as a Career Center, where women are offered career guidance and technology skill development. More information on how to start a “Dress for Success” program can be found at the above website.
Career Gear is a nonprofit whose mission is to serve men living in New York City, Cleveland, Miami, and Houston who are economically disadvantaged and underserved. The organization oversees three programs, including a job readiness program, a professional development series, and a mentoring program. Men interested in participating in the program must be referred by a partner agency (see New York partner agencies). Program participants are all ages and ethnic backgrounds, and include recipients of public assistance, people with disabilities, recovering addicts, veterans, former foster care children, recent immigrants, the formerly incarcerated, or those who face other disadvantages that make job acquisition and retention a challenge. Individuals can become involved by donating money, time, or clothing, or by holding a suit drive.
2. Support Educational Scholarships
Empire Beauty School
Empire Beauty Schools, one of the nation's largest systems of cosmetology schools, has created an educational assistance program to help survivors of domestic violence. The Empire Gives Back Endowment Program allots money for clients of domestic violence relief organizations across the country. The endowment provides up to $3,000 towards attending any Empire Education Group beauty school. The goal of the fund is to help abuse victims afford a cosmetology education, which can mean a path to financial independence. Learn more at the website listed above.
Linda Lael Miller Scholarships
Linda’s scholarships are awarded annually to women who are 25 years or older, non-traditional students who have a difficult time finding scholarships for which they qualify. As in previous years, the scholarship funds may be used not only for tuition and books, but also for childcare, transportation and other expenses not covered by traditional scholarships. Find additional information and to download the application form, please visit the website listed above.
Women's Independence Scholarship Program (WISP)
The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program, Inc. began as a program of The Sunshine Lady Foundationand provides scholarships to women survivors of intimate partner abuse who are changing their lives through education. WISP was created in 1999 with the primary intent to help single mothers with young children who have the greatest financial challenges to gain work skills so they can support their families. Funds target women who are in desperate financial situations and absolutely must have both an education and supplemental funds to assist them. Find additional information and/or download the application form at the website above, or call the program at 910-397-7742.
3. Promote Financial Literacy & Vocational Training
National Financial Educators Council
The National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) is an independent organization that teaches best practices in financial literacy, and is “focused on providing practical, real world, education solutions that empower participants with the knowledge they need to make the right financial decisions.“ The NFEC offers training programs to individuals interested in teaching financial literacy to others. Those individuals interested in teaching financial literacy can receive financial literacy certification training through the NFEC. For detailed information on NFEC’s Certified Financial Education Instructor coursework, please visit the website listed above.
PurplePurse.com is designed as an online shopping magazine, but its real purpose is to encourage people to talk openly about domestic violence and financial abuse. Since research shows that the issue of domestic violence is difficult to discuss, this site was created to make it easier to bring up the subject.
Work4Women, a project of Wider Opportunities for Women, provides “tools, strategies and a community to help increase women and girls' integration and retention in high-wage jobs that are considered nontraditional for women.” The project is an excellent resource for individuals interested in assisting survivors of domestic violence in attaining these types of career opportunities. Included on the above website are links to helpful resources, one of which is entitled “Work 4 Women Resources for Seeking Nontraditional Occupations.” This resource includes comprehensive information and advice regarding pre-vocational training, tips to find and obtain high-wage nontraditional employment, and addressing challenges to obtaining and remaining in these careers.