From Your Home to the Workplace: Know Your Rights

what to do if someone threatens you with violence

From Your Home to the Workplace: Know Your Rights

Leaving an abusive relationship or having just left one can be an extremely difficult time, made even more complicated by the concerns that come with your work and home. Thankfully there are laws in place that help prevent employment and housing discrimination — such as being evicted or refused time off because of the abuse.

Employment Rights

If you’re planning on leaving an abusive relationship or you’ve just left, knowing your rights regarding your job can be crucial. These laws vary state by state and may fluctuate depending on what kind of job you have.

The state you’re living in may have laws that prohibit your employer from firing or punishing you if you need to take time off to go to court, for example. Some of these laws allow for unpaid leave in such circumstances.

There are also laws against ‘wrongful termination’ if you’ve been fired, demoted, suspended or forced to quit if your employer learns that you’re a victim of domestic violence.

This is a useful resource for learning about federal and state employment law protections.

Some employers also have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) offering different assistance and counseling services. Speak to your HR department to see what types of options may exist for you.

Housing Rights

Housing discrimination against victims occurs far too often, so learning about your rights can be extremely important if you’re thinking about leaving a relationship or have recently left.

Some states have laws that allow victims to terminate their leases, have their locks changed and more. There are also laws that help safeguard against being evicted or losing your housing because of the violence. These laws differ on local, state and federal levels.

The recently reauthorized Violence Against Women Act has expanded provisions about housing rights of victims.

Laws are continually being changed and interpreted in different ways. Visit Women’s Law to find out about how to speak with a legal advocate in your area.

Public Assistance Program Rights

Everyone has the right to apply for different public assistance programs. State Welfare Programs known as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) are for families with low or no income. There are also community assistance programs that you may be eligible for in your area.

Calling 2-1-1 can connect you to local services to get help with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more.

If you call NDVH at 1-800-799-SAFE, our advocates can also help look up the local offices in your area so you can begin to learn more about what you may qualify for (ex. Medicaid, food stamps) and how to apply.

Comment section

13 replies
  1. ..I will be quite surprised if you get this from me. Every email, pone call etc is always interrupted by silly ridiculous things like browser is shutting down, google is unavailable, data connectivity problem, the processcom.android phone has stopped unexpectedly, a secure connection couldn’t be established and many more bs things. My abusers are very many in count. They have the power to stop me from using my phone. Daily. Always know what I’m doing and they used the cops, gov professionals and officials, adult protect services. Even had me wrongfully jailed twice. I was thrown on the streets with 1 leg which was as well due to abuse. Its against federal law for cops to thro a disabled s senior on the streets without trying to find a safe place. Cops hurt me. Not help me at all. I’ve been on the street since 2010. Stayed on sofas for a while with people I didn’t know. Turned away by shelters and ended up in a shelter from hell that did nothing. If abuse is a crime, why can’t the victim get help? I’ve been turned away by hospitals, had altered medical records, refused allowsance to see cat/mri scans and other test results. Even turned away from a major hospital

  2. I’m not thru. Need help and not from a freak who chooses to abuse or hose that refuse too. Help a victim. We can’t learn to move on without help and to b
    e revicitmiized over and over again is terrorizing and very traumatizing. I have walke wallked 5 yrs in public view on crutches and still.couldn’t get social services. My whole community played a part. I can’t move on without help emotionally and physically. Can’t get healthcare and my transportation is my 1 foot. I can’t get a social worker and have no so called.friend help. I have been put thru hell ands my civil rights and disabiity rights all denide. So, if cops, docs, lawyers, mayors, aps or a neighbor can help. Where does one go to for the help america says is our right? Being rejected years doesn’t sustain life. It jills. I don’t want pity but I want whazt is deserved and should be mine. Crimes r crimes. Guess not in texas. Validation, vindication and compensation for losing a leg, my home, all my possessions.and being not protected and all the other serious violations I should be compensated with would help me get tthe hell away from the most abusive areas of texas. Sometimes many are used and so our voices won’t be heard andthe justice system sucks. So we stay stuck in the same place in hell. Any suggestions especially for legal. Don’t say churches. Tried that. Thanx

  3. Deanie,

    Thanks for reaching out. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot. I know it can be very frustrating when you reach out for help, only to be rejected time and again. Have you tried calling 211? That will get you connected to all the social services in your area. I know you’ve tried a lot of different things, but maybe 211 can help you find that resource that you haven’t tried already.

    If you are a victim of intimate partner violence, I would encourage you to give us a call. We can develop a plan for your safety and connect you to local organizations that can help you get back on your feet. We are here 24 hours a day and are completely confidential and anonymous. Our number is 1(800)799.7233.

    Until then,

    Hotline Advocate MC

  4. I am thoroughly convinced that not all domestic violence shelters can help. I am going to one where I was told by the counselor that she would give me a Bible if I became homeless and God would protect me. Plus, average stay is a week and a week is not enough time to get a person on their feet. Due to my loss of income, have applied for disability because I have severe depression and Parkinson’s. I have to tell you that I have to go back to abuse simply because I can’t get anybody to help me. I don’t have family around here, and some of the shelters give you so much run around. A person asks for help and they might as well live in the abuse as to go to one of these shelters and be dismissed in a week. Or to be told God will provide. Like what kind of bull is that?

    America needs to wake up and realize these abusers get by with abuse because 9 chances out of 10 the victim is going to either have to go back or be forced to live in the streets. That is so sad. All I heard was go to a women’s shelter, they will help you. You have to give up your animals, your home and for what? To be dismissed in a week. You bet this message might sound sour, but if a place can’t help, then don’t judge the situation if the victim has to go back to their abuser. I am so sad that I have to go back, and I have tried everything to remain free. Seriously, would like a comment on this one.

    Plus, I called the hotline one night, just to have somebody to help me, and this person was rude and wanted to get off the phone right away, that was so comforting. To be in a bad situation and then want to speak to somebody and everything is timed or something along that order. Tell me, what is there where they truly can help? Even the food pantries around here got in trouble because some of the workers were loading up the good stuff and taking it home, was even on the news. Enlighten me

  5. Cindy,

    Thank you so much for sharing with our blog community. I am so glad you are continuing to reach out and I am so sorry that you had that experience with the hotline. I can assure you that we do not have a time limit on our calls. If you would like to try to reach out to us again, feel free to ask to speak with a supervisor that can also help you brainstorm a few options.

    Know that you will not experience any judgement from us here for going back. We know that leaving an abusive situation is such a difficult thing to do and many programs may not have all the resources to help. Once again, if you would like to try to speak with an advocate or a supervisor please feel free to contact us at 1800-799-7233 to talk about a safety plan while you are with the abuser.


  6. I am here for k1 visa. my fiancee backed out marrying in less than a week because his family didnt like me . i am not physically abused but emotionally and mentally abused. I am still leaving with them and they want to control me. i am not yer ready to go home because i ‘m not yet ready to face the people in my country. i left my job and gave away my personal things because i thought i will be leaving here for a long time. i dont have a phone and they discourage me to use my laptop talk with people. they understimate and humiliate me. i need your email address to tell u my whole story. pls help. i’m tired of crying and i’m sad.

  7. Michelle,
    Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing what you are going through. It sounds very painful and you’re so brave to share with all of us. Abuse or manipulation can be a specific part of immigration concerns in a domestic violence situation, there may be some local resource that can help in this area. It might be helpful to speak to one of our advocates of the phone to try and get you connected to local resources. We encourage everyone to give us a call when they are safe to talk on the phone; communicating over the computer can be unsafe. If you are more comfortable talking in a different language, we have access to an interpreter service to us anytime. Please give us a call when you are safe to be on the phone, we are open 24/7 and are completely confidential and anonymous. Reach us at 1-800-799-7233.


  8. Hi. I have problems with my boyfriend, who mentally tortures me each day and night. I don’t want to file a police complaint against him, but I want him to leave me alone which he doesn’t. He doesn’t let me do anything. I am a college student and he doesn’t even let me study properly. I cannot do anything on my own. He controls my every move and I have to like work according to his clock. I have tried talking to his family about his and there is no help from them at all. They just keep saying, they will talk to him but never really do. I want to get rid of this man from my life but don’t want to file any complaint. Is there a way you guys can help me?

  9. Hey Kate,

    That sounds like a really intense situation. I know it can be really difficult to go about your day when you have someone always watching you and trying to control what you do. It must be so exhausting! I’m glad that you reached out because that is the first step to moving forward. What you are going through is, unfortunately, very common. So know that you are not alone.

    There are many strategies to escaping an abusive situation. There is no right and wrong, only what makes sense for you and what works. It sounds like calling the police is not an option and that is okay. I would encourage you to give us a call at 1(800)799.7233. We can talk about alternatives, such as getting a protective order or getting you connected to a local domestic violence agency that can help with changing your phone number, giving you a safe place to stay and changing your routine. We are completely confidential and anonymous and we are available 24 hours a day.

    Stay safe until then,
    Hotline Advocate MC

  10. In 2010, which would be year 3 with my abuser, things took a dark turn! It seemed he always found a way into my home during the night. It could be as simple as I would either wake to all alarms being removed, which causes tardiness at work. Woken to his holding me in a hostage type state, until I would be late… One night I was woken up when my dog slammed into my chest, and there he stood staring as I’m wiping blood from my mouth. I spent the next 3 days coughing more.

    I got warnings at work and finally, when he began stalking the area I asked HR for a meeting. I was forced to discuss my situation with her and the Plant Manager. Not only did I say I didn’t see why the manager was involved, I begged to not have to discuss with a male present. I was not given an option, was denied time off FMLA, was scrutinized for my fears and not filing legal docs they suggested. I explained my nightly terrors, and was still let go for a 10 minute tardy, which had resulted from a high speed chase to my work. Plus they fought to not allow me unemployment. Is there a statute of limitations on wrongful termination? This is the first time Ive seen this information.

  11. Workplace Discrimination,

    Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your story. What you went through was terrible and I’m so sorry to hear that your workplace was so unsympathetic and unsupportive. As the survivor of a crime like abuse and stalking, you deserve better than that. Laws may vary from state to state as far as statutes of limitation, but it would definitely be worth connecting with a legal advocate to learn more about your rights and your options. Many abuse programs offer free or low-cost legal advice and support, and if you’d like to contact us, we would be happy to connect you with some local options. You can reach us 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233, or 7am-2am CST through online chat at http://www.thehotline.org

  12. I really like what you said about housing rights and how some states have laws that allow victims to terminate their leases. This is great to know because I recently have been stuck in a lease that I need to get out of because I don’t even use the service or anything. Hopefully, I can find a lawyer who can help me to get out of this so that I don’t have to worry about it anymore.

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