ACCESS: Advancing Career Counseling and Employment Support for Survivors of Domestic Violence


ACCESS is accessible to survivors, considers the impact of women’s violence experiences, and addresses survivors’ specific vocational needs. Our community has worked collaboratively since 1997, listening to survivors’ stories and developing a career counseling program that has a positive impact on women's lives.

“I am going to school full-time and working part-time now. ACCESS helped me build confidence. Participating in ACCESS gave me insight in dealing with things that I had ignored. I continue to grow and learn.”


– ACCESS participant

The History of ACCESS

handsACCESS was founded by Dr. Krista Chronister, faculty in Counseling Psychology at the University of Oregon.  She began working as a volunteer at a local domestic violence shelter in 1997, and she saw first-hand women and children walk through a ‘revolving door’ of shelter and advocacy services.

Dr. Chronister spoke with survivors and agency staff to learn about why women returned to the shelter so frequently and quickly. This line of inquiry led her and agency staff to identify a major service gap - the provision of financial, employment, and career counseling that might foster survivors’ ability to access resources and support themselves and their families longer-term.

Existing domestic violence services often focus exclusively on women’s immediate safety and financial concerns, with less attention devoted to women’s longer-term employment and career development needs that might help them seek help or escape abusive situations. Similarly, few employment agencies offer services that are accessible to survivors and acknowledge how violence affects women’s employment and educational success.   

As a result, Dr. Chronister collaborated with advocates, educators, researchers, and social service providers to create the ACCESS program and bridge the gap between domestic violence and employment services for survivors. 

The Positive Impact of ACCESS

A team of volunteer counselors offers the ACCESS program as an integrated service of Womenspace, a domestic violence services agency in Eugene, Oregon.  More than 100 women survivors have participated in ACCESS program groups and research since 2000.  Dr. Chronister has evaluated the impact of the ACCESS program. Research findings show that after participating in ACCESS, survivors feel more confident, able to find career resources and woman readingprogress toward their goals. Survivors who participated in ACCESS also were more aware of the impact of domestic violence on their lives and more motivated and hopeful about their futures.

All profits from ACCESS program sales go directly to further the development of employment and career counseling services for domestic violence survivors and research on the impact of such services. For more details about ACCESS program research, please visit the Research Info page.

Advancing Career Counseling and Employment Support for Survivors of domestic violence is an intervention curriculum created by Krista M. Chronister, Ph.D., faculty in Counseling Psychology at the University of Oregon. ACCESS Copyright 2006-2009 University of Oregon. “All rights reserved”.  This resource is provided subject to the Terms and Conditions of the website.

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