Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Nancy Freymond

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Dr. Angela Colantonio

Advisor Role


Third Advisor

Dr. Eli Teram

Advisor Role



The intersection of intimate partner violence (IPV) and brain injury (BI) has been almost entirely overlooked in research, practice, and policy, despite the known risks associated with the two conditions. Individually, IPV and BI are associated with elevated rates of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness, as well as increased mental health challenges. These social determinants of health, employment status, and income impact women’s wellbeing through access to safe accommodations, food security, and (dis)ability supports. These determinants are also related to an increased likelihood of experiencing addictions, mental health challenges, and physical danger, potentially leaving women vulnerable to ongoing violence. This qualitative study sought to explore the complex interconnections between work environments and the needs of women survivors of IPV-related BI (IPV-BI). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty-four stakeholder participants from four groups: women survivors, executive director/program managers, direct service providers, and employer/union representatives. The overarching goal of this project was to provide in-depth information about the intersection between IPV and BI, and the implications for women’s employment. The research provided an opportunity for women survivors to share their lived experiences of employment within the context of their exposure to IPV and BI, amplifying their voices through a participatory model of qualitative research. The study was informed by Critical Disability Theory, Intersectionality, and the author’s own theoretical advancement of the Considered Inclusive Framework. The work concludes with a discussion of the findings, including the extraordinary complexity within the intersection of IPV-BI itself, the impact of a socially derived culture of shame and stigma that shapes the experience of IPV-BI, and the recognition/consideration of the complex layers of power that survivors are exposed to, both structural and individual. A significant and serious gap in awareness, knowledge, and understanding of IPV-BI, combined with an underfunded support system, is also discussed. Recommendations for practice and future research are presented, and the unique role of social work is considered in the context of moving toward an integrated response.

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