Women’s Experiences of the Intersections of Work and Intimate Partner Violence: A Review of Qualitative Research
Trauma, Violence, and Abuse
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The impacts of intimate partner violence (IPV) on work, workplaces, and employment are receiving increasing attention from researchers, employers, and policy makers, but research synthesis is needed to develop evidence-based strategies to address the problem. The purpose of this review of qualitative research is to explore abused women’s experiences of the intersections of work and IPV, including the range of benefits and drawbacks of work. Multiple search strategies, including systematic database searches by a professional librarian, resulted in 2,306 unique articles that were independently screened for eligibility by two team members. Qualitative research articles were eligible for inclusion and were also required to (1) sample women with past and/or current IPV experience and (2) report results regarding women’s experiences or views of the benefits and/or drawbacks of work. Ultimately, 32 qualitative research articles involving 757 women were included and analyzed using thematic synthesis. Results revealed the potential of work to offer survivors a great range of benefits and drawbacks, many of which have received little research attention. The importance of work for women survivors has been emphasized in the literature, often with respect to financial independence facilitating the leaving process. However, our research underscores how the impact of work for many women survivors is not straightforward and, for some, involves a “trade-off” of benefits and drawbacks. Those developing work-related interventions, services (e.g., career counseling), or policies for women who experience IPV should consider the range of benefits and drawbacks in their planning, as “one-size-fits-all” solutions are unlikely to be effective.