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Working Wednesdays – Economic Justice is Survivor Justice


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Working Wednesdays Topics


Throughout history, September has been a significant month for the labor movement in the United States. In celebration of Labor Day, a federal holiday honoring the work and contribution of American workers, we wanted to take this month to highlight some of the economic barriers faced by survivors, organizations working to create better workplaces for survivors, and our September “Working Wednesday” social media campaign centering survivors and economic justice.

At FUTURES, we work to promote policies and systems that advance both the economic empowerment and economic security of survivors. Economic insecurity is often one of the primary reasons survivors are unable to leave an abusive partner or unsafe workplace.

Survivors often face:

  • Employment sabotage by abusive partners who seek to make it difficult to find, maintain, and excel at work;
  • Need for workplace accommodations to facilitate their safety while at work;
  • Sexual harassment and violence in the workplace at the hands of their employer, co-worker, or patrons; and
  • Economic abuse and coercion from at the hands of their abusive partners or employers which can undermine their financial independence.

While these barriers remain a reality for many survivors, several worker and union-led organizations are creating positive change. A few are highlighted below:

  • UNITE HERE Local 1 in Chicago successfully organized and passed a local ordinance to provide hospitality workers, who face high rates of sexual harassment and violence, with panic buttons so they can immediately access help.
  • SEIU UUSWW in California advocated for safer working conditions for janitors and helped successfully pass a law requiring anti-sexual harassment training for all janitorial staff in California. FUTURES was involved with the campaign to pass sexual harassment training for janitors in California.
  • Coalition of Immokalee Workers launched the Fair Food Program to ensure farm workers had humane working conditions and fair wages. FUTURES has been involved with this campaign through our Low Wage, High Risk pilot aimed at addressing the vulnerability of low-wage workers to gender-based violence in the workplace.

Interested in learning more about economic barriers faced by survivors and what workplaces can do better? Follow our Working Wednesday social media campaign and check back in with the page every Wednesday for updates! Throughout September, we will be posting about topics like the importance of child care for survivors and trauma-informed workplaces while highlighting the work of the Workplace Resource Center.

To kick the month off, please retweet this tweet and follow the #WorkingWednesdays and #SurvivorsInTheWorkplace to share our work on social media.

Head to our Economic Justice Page to learn more about what work Futures Without Violence does to advance equity and safety for survivors of justice in the workplace.

The Fight For Child Care

This #WorkingWednesday we’re talking about why the fight for affordable, accessible and flexible child care is essential for women and families. During the pandemic, men have recovered and gained jobs while women are still down 100k jobs compared to February 2020. What’s one factor keeping women out of the workforce? Child care.  Many families and #SurvivorsintheWorkforce face challenges both affording and finding quality child care. Domestic violence survivors experience these 3 unique barrier to accessing and utilizing child care:

  1. Economic Insecurity
  2. Sabotage by an Abusive Partner
  3. Inflexible Hours

Affordability is one of the biggest challenges for families using #childcare. Many families spend entire paychecks on child care payments. Affordability becomes even more complex for survivors of DV, especially survivors of color. 

Many survivors can’t afford child care due to the economic abuse they experience. In a survey of survivors, 50% said they couldn’t leave an abusive partner because they couldn’t afford child care

Affordability is even more pervasive for survivors of color. In a survey of survivors during the pandemic, Black and brown survivors had access to 5.76 times fewer financial resources than white survivors. 

Many survivors experience child care sabotage at the hands of their abusive partner, which can prevent them from putting their children in child care and impacts their ability to find and maintain a job.

Here’s one example of how child care impacts survivors… a survivor asked the police to delay arresting her abuser because they were providing child care for the day

For more information on child care and how it impacts survivors of domestic violence, read our brief:

Check out our other work on child care.

Leadership in the Workplace

It’s #WorkingWednesdays! Today, we’re exploring survivor leadership in the workplace –how to uplift and enable survivors to take the lead.

Following the lead of survivors means providing access to job opportunities where they have decision-making power and access to benefits. Employing survivor leaders allows organizations and companies to truly learn from and utilize the wisdom of survivors. People with lived experience in social injustice serve as the best leaders of any movement because they know the issue better than any outside observer could.

While survivors are often engaged in speaking for public campaigns, there is a gap in supporting survivors in professional skill-building and inclusion in all stages of leadership such as development, implementation, evaluation and decision making of workplace programs and policies.

Additionally, many of the leadership development programs for survivors focus solely on skill-development in the anti-trafficking and GBV movement. However, there is a need to support training in other labor sectors such as healthcare, technology, higher education and more.

Check out this Toolkit for Building Survivor-Informed Organizations, from the National Human Trafficking Training & Technical Assistance Center, “Survivor informed practices should not be selectively applied for individuals who outwardly identify as survivor leaders. They must be woven into the fabric of how organizations engage with all staff, volunteers, consultants, and other professionals in person-centered environments.”

Empowering Survivor Leaders in the Workplace looks like:

  • Never ask survivors in leadership, or in any other role, to share their story and never share their story for them.
  • Empower survivors to outgrow the label of only a survivor. Treat them as more than the trauma they have experienced and foster their strengths so, if they desire, they could successfully run the organization or get a job in the field of their choice.
  • Design opportunities for survivors in the organization to receive continuing education on leadership and professional development.

It is important that workplaces recognize that trauma is not unique to an individual who identifies as a survivor leader.  The way survivors in leadership positions are treated should mirror the way that staff members without lived experience of human trafficking are treated, and vice versa. (Unifying Trauma-Informed Practices and Voices of Survivor Leadership, US Department of State)

A 2018 national survey of domestic violence survivors found that 83% of respondents reported that their abusive partners disrupted their ability to work. 53% said they lost a job because of their abuse. 18% missed out on a promotion or raise due to abuse and 38% lost out on other work opportunities. Investing in survivor leadership allows organizations to effectively address these impacts of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the workplace. ( )

Additional Resources/Sources

Trauma Informed Workplaces and Management

As part of our #WorkingWednesdays series, today we’re exploring 6 Steps Leaders Can Take to Create a More Trauma Informed Workplace. A trauma-informed workplace not only allows #SurvivorsintheWorkplace to show up as their whole selves, it allows all employees to thrive at work. “Trauma-informed” recognizes that a majority of us have experienced at least one traumatic event in our lifetimes, which can impact how we interact with the world around us, including in the workplace.
Here are the 6 Steps Leaders Can Take to Create a More Trauma-Informed Workplace:
Step 1: Consider the psychological safety of your employees and colleagues.
Step 2: Know that transparent, clear, and consistent communication builds trust.
Step 3: Foster connections.
Step 4: Don’t dictate – collaborate.
Step 5: Empower with both resources and choice.
Step 6: Recognize that systemic and institutional oppression based on one’s identity shapes how employees show up.
Take a few minutes and watch FUTURES’s Sarah Gonzalez, Associate Director for Workplace and Economic Justice, walk us through these 6 steps. We know this is hard work, but we are all striving to foster better workplaces, and you don’t need to do it alone.
Then head to the National Resource Center, Workplaces Respond for ideas, tools, and one-on-one support from Futures Without Violence. 

Employment Sabotage

Employment sabotage by an abusive partner impacts more than 70% of survivors.

Tune in as Policy, Communications, and Advocacy Coordinator, Claire Kao breaks down how gender-based violence and abuse shows up in the workplace and the effect it can have on survivors trying to work. 

Safety Planning

Today, we want to offer some solutions in the form of Workplace Safety Planning. A safety plan is a survivor-led tool that outlines a set of actions that can help lower the risk of experiencing violence. The core principles of workplace safety planning are:
  • Be Prepared and Learn More
  • Ask the Survivor
  • Trust the Survivor
  • Work Alongside the Survivor
  • Protect Confidential Information
  • Manage Vicarious Trauma
Are you an employer or manager? Read our blog post found here for more information on what goes in to making a Workplace Safety Plan, and how you can help prevent violence for the people in your office or profession.

Teen Economic Abuse

This #WorkingWednesdays post comes one day after International Day of the Girl. To honor it, we want to highlight a type of economic abuse not widely known or discussed: teen economic abuse. Unfortunately, teenagers experience a wide range of economic abuse that can impact their studies, their ability to work, and their financial decisions that can greatly affect a teen’s life.

This #DomesticViolenceAwaresnessMonth, take time to learn about the impact of teen economic abuse, and head to to discover more. Spread the word on teen economic abuse by checking out these graphics (, and forwarding them and this post to your friends.

Safe Leave

Have you ever heard of safe  leave? It is an essential type of leave from work that allows survivors or family members close to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, or stalking to take protected time off for many reasons  related to the violence they’re experiencing. A couple reasons include preparing for and going to court, seeking medical treatment, seeking victim services, relocating, etc.

Safe leave is important because it allows survivors to maintain employment and the subsequent economic resources essential to gaining and maintaining safety. Click the images to learn more about safe leave, and this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, share them with a friend or colleague to spread the word about what safe leave is and why it’s important.

Head to to learn about safe leave and other tools in the workplace that can support survivors and prevent violence.

safe leave infographic

Impacts of Domestic Violence on the Workplace

Some of our co-workers are carrying burdens we don’t know about, and their heavy loads can impact the workplace. In fact, about 40% of American adults will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetimes.

Please watch our video that explains how domestic violence impacts people in their workplace, and also how employers can recognize this trauma and help lighten their load. 

(Note: This video includes depictions of abusive behavior which can be upsetting.) #workplacewellbeing #intimatepartnerviolence