Michelle* had two kids under six when her partner first attacked her. After the second attack, she went to the police. She was told she’d need to apply to the courts for an intervention order to protect herself from her ex-partner.
Many of the meetings she needed to attend to protect herself were only available during business hours – when she was supposed to be at work. She struggled for months in secret, taking time off work as sick leave.
By the time Michelle told her employer what was happening, she had missed a lot of work and was worried she might lose her job. Michelle was lucky – while she hadn’t known, it turned out her employer offered domestic violence leave and supported her to take the time off she needed.
Michelle is not alone. More than 210,000 Australian women were victims of domestic violence in 2016. Two out of three of those women are currently working. But being a victim of violence can put their jobs at risk.
Women like Michelle can need time off work because they’re injured, need to attend medical appointments, have to go to court to get a restraining order, or pack up and move house.
We know financial insecurity makes women more vulnerable to domestic violence. We know being a victim of domestic violence makes you more likely to experience life-long economic disadvantage. It’s a vicious cycle.
Having a job and some degree of financial independence makes it easier for women who want to leave an abusive relationship.
It’s easier to walk away when you don’t have to worry about whether you’ll be able to afford rent or whether you’ll be able to feed the kids.