Why of all days blog about job searching while in an abusive relationship? Well today is Valentine’s day, and it’s supposed to be a day for love and for lovers. But there is no day that’s set aside for victims living in an abusive relationship, and I want to tie this into the job search; because today of all days, some victims in an abusive relationship may suffer today more than any other day.
Job searching for anyone is tough. I’m hearing from more and more people all the time that are telling me how the job search is harder than they remember it being; that the days of getting interviews all the time are over, and it’s getting harder to keep up their self-confidence. Okay so let’s work on the assumption that anyone looking for work is struggling with self-esteem issues over a prolonged job search. Now I want those of you who are in healthy supportive relationships to imagine conducting a job search without any support of any kind. Would that be tough? We all could use some support and encouragement.
I’m not done though. Now imagine if you can, trying to present yourself as a professional, competent assertive person when you’ve got a partner who treats you like a possession; who degrades you and tells you forty times a day that you’ll never amount to anything. (Get a job!) You might think to turn to your friends for some moral support but, sadly, your partner controls who you see, yells at you if you do speak to anybody, and isolates you emotionally and physically from other people who might be in a position to actually help. You’re controlled to the point where their insecurity won’t let you even talk to someone of the opposite sex. (Get a job!) How’s that job search going now?
I’m not done though. You’re told repeatedly to get a job and start contributing and yet you get the conflicting statements about how stupid you are, worthless you are, nobody wants you, and the best you can hope for is to stay with this person because they’ll put up with you. (Get a job!) On top of looking for a job, you’d better clean, cook, do laundry, dishes, and I’m not even going to get into the sexual gratification area, but you’d best be at least decent in that department too. (Get a job!)
How likely is it that you’d be allowed to do much searching on the internet at home to look for work? (Get a job!) After all, your abusive partner would be yelling at you most of the time and definitely doing a search history to see what websites you’ve been visiting and checking your email to see who you have been talking to. Delete that information before they check it out – even accidentally – and you might get slapped around or worse.
Getting a job might seem like a good thing not only for the income, but quite frankly the most appealing thing might be actually getting away from your partner for a few hours or more a week. Guess what? Your partner might just show up at your workplace and spy on you under the premise of ‘visiting’. In the worst situations, they actually interfere with your work and leave your boss with no choice but to let you go because of the disruption your partner shows. (Get a job!) And all this time, you partner will tell you that you deserve everything you’re getting in life. Having a lovely Valentine’s day yet?
Point made. There’s an end to this blog coming, but sadly for those in abusive situations, there is often no hope of an end in sight. So what if anything can you do? Well some of you reading this may know of an abused person, and further more, an abused person who is looking for work. Sometimes the abused person can’t imagine how they would support themselves financially without their abusive partner.
So here are some things you might do if you want to help. First, find out about some resources in your community that help victims of abuse; shelters and counsellors for a start. Victims often have no idea where to get started. Offer to store their resume or important documents like certificates, ID or copies of ID etc. so they can’t be stolen or withheld. Most of all, just be an ear. Don’t fret about knowing what to say, just listen and ask how you can help. If you have the ability, maybe you can make copies of their resume for them, let them use your own home computer to apply for jobs if they can get to your home.
Of course one of the things that any of us can do for victims of abuse is point out their good qualities. Who knows how many people, and over what period of time have beat down their self-image. Reinforce the positive and tell them things you admire in them; point out their strengths in a genuine way. And because victims live constantly in such a high state of stress and anxiety, as much as it defies logic, don’t add pressure on them to get out. Give the information about options and if you have the skill, write out an exit plan so the possibility is there. When the time is right for that person they may put that plan into action.
Interviewing for a job can be intimidating and stressful for anyone. Ironically I’ve interviewed people before who used their years of enduring abuse as part of their answers to interview questions. They spoke of their determination to improve their lives, their resolve, their appreciation for opportunities, and their inner stamina to keep working until things are done. The best interviews are usually when applicants bring real-life examples from their past into the interview, to demonstrate how they have used a skill or character trait in the past and how they would transfer that experience to the present job they are applying for.
All the best.