Work Life After Trauma

The pandemic has created dramatic financial strain across the country, especially so for those whose financial situations have been compromised already due to mental, physical, or other disability. Too many survivors of abuse fall into these categories.

Protect Yourself from Scams

Here comes some practical advice. This article begins a series about work options in a new economy. Work options right now. As finances get tight, the online add for the quick bundle of cash becomes tempting. It’s exactly how predatory con artists work. It’s also how a victim of abuse becomes victim of predators later in light.

Stop! Don’t go for the con job. There is true hope for every need and every age of survivor. This economy is increasingly able to accommodate special needs often experienced by survivors of abuse and trauma who must manage acute or chronic physical, mental, or emotional challenges.

A Bleak Portrait

Before describing these real opportunities, it’s important to look briefly at the bleak picture faced by most survivors of abuse. Research abounds. There is even more anecdotal information. What’s a typical profile of the lifelong financial challenges we often face?

Just one review of current research literature created a familiar profile of life as affected by acute or chronic mental illness related disability. It is a profile of a lifelong arc of financial impact, including lower levels of educational achievement, lower probability of gaining full-time employment, lower salary and compensation, higher job turnover, earlier (lower-paid) retirement, and longer periods of welfare dependency.[1]

Fast-Pace Changing Reality

The financial and employment impact is shared through the family, as the National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI) points out that “caregivers of adults with mental illness or emotional health issues spend an average of 32 hours per week providing unpaid care.[2]

That data is about two years old, and already the profile it creates is changing. Advocates for workplace equality are hopeful, cautiously hopeful even now in this era of economic impact from the pandemic. They say that nothing has quantifiably evened-out the hiring playing field more than virtual, remote, and flexible work options.[3]

The pandemic has radically accelerated the shift toward remote work. That is likely to extend into the future. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) specifically recommend that U.S. employers consider telework options in order to limit the spread of the disease.[4]

As the economy rebounds, many incentives will survive the pandemic and continue an economy-wide transition to remote teams. There is less office space overhead. Quality of life is improved when employees can live in lower cost-of-living areas. And work force diversity is easier to find. Above all, workers and employers have realized that remote and flexible options add to productivity and satisfaction.

Flexibility is Key

The nature of remote work permits individuals to keep their appointments for medical or mental health care without stress, and its flexibility and environment work to help maintain lower stress levels. The remote work setting is also an environment easily adjusted to individual needs, whether that means accommodating mobility devices, providing hearing or sight aids, or permitting stress-reduction elements.[5]

“Remote and flexible work” covers many different scenarios. It may be one or more of any number of options that support a well life for those with disabilities and for their family members. Part-time or work-share local jobs fall into the category, which is however dominated by all- or mostly virtual, at-home work. Many of these jobs are full-time with full benefits, while others are freelance or hourly with booking or marketing agencies. With all these job arrangements, flexible work hours are the norm.

Real-World Success

GitLab[6] is an “all remote company” which promotes best practices in the tech industry. Recently it surveyed 3,000 adult professionals who work remotely or who have access to a remote-work option. 14% of reported having a disability or chronic illness. The majority (83%) of that group said that remote work enables them to contribute to the workforce.[7]

GitLab also found something that might surprise many survivors who fear that colleagues look down on those with physical or mental challenges. Of the three thousand professionals in the survey, most favor remote work for its ability to diversify and accommodate special needs, because those people also were needed to contribute to the process, values and direction of the company.[8] Indeed, for those with an acute or chronic illness, or a disability, remote work is increasingly being used as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.[9]


Remote and flexible work is here to stay. With it, opportunities for survivors who manage issues requiring special work accommodations are increasing. As of August 11, 2020, over 25 thousand active job postings were on FlexJobs, a leading remote-worker recruitment website.[10] Five of the most popular work-from-home job titles include accountant, customer service representative, project manager, nurse and writer. The types of writing needed ranges from editing published text or internal emails, to web or digital catalog content and technical manuals. Most recently, the fastest-growing remote career categories include art and creative, bookkeeping, K-12 instruction support, graphic design and translation.[11]

In the coming weeks, we’ll be providing quick takes on two of the leading remote-job search engines, two of the leading freelance-work search engines, and resources for creating or polishing a resume to kick off some at-home work or job change.

Challenge for Diocesan Staff and Ministries

You are in a position to support people, right now, taking advantage of these opportunities. Keeping this information on hand for survivors or family members who are struggling can be very helpful, and posting jobs on these sites is also a great way to help distribute work opportunities. What jobs training and coaching exists locally? It’s worth connecting local resources with survivors and family members – and others with special needs and much to offer!


[1] Doran, C. M., & Kinchin, I. (2019). A review of the economic impact of mental illness. Australian health review : a publication of the Australian Hospital Association, 43(1), 43–48. Accessed 8/11/2020.

[2] Accessed 8/9/2020.

[3] Kaiser, Caleb. How remote work impacts employees with disabilities. Angel blog (June 27, 2019). Accessed 8/09/2020.

[4] Golden, Ryan. Remote work may level playing field for workers with disabilities, chronic illness. HD Drive blog (March 11, 2020). Accessed 8/11/2020.

[5] Kaiser, Caleb. How remote work impacts employees with disabilities. Angel blog (June 27, 2019). Accessed 8/09/2020.

[6] GitLab is a leader in the tech industry. It started as an open source project to help teams collaborate on developing software. It ended up creating a single application that addresses the lifecycle of software development and use for large companies.[6] Imagine a coffee shop chat club that becomes a tech giant, and you have an idea of how creative and smart GibLab is.

[7] Golden, Ryan. Remote work may level playing field for workers with disabilities, chronic illness. HD Drive blog (March 11, 2020). Accessed 8/11/2020.

[8] Golden, Ryan. Remote work may level playing field for workers with disabilities, chronic illness. HD Drive blog (March 11, 2020). Accessed 8/11/2020.

[9] Golden, Ryan. Remote work may level playing field for workers with disabilities, chronic illness. HD Drive blog (March 11, 2020). Accessed 8/11/2020.


[11] Talty, Alexandra. Work from home 2020: the top 100 companies for remote jobs. Forbes (January 14, 2020). Accessed 8/15/2020.

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