Reply from Saskia, CEO of My CWA:
This is an excellent question that will resonate with many people. I think the issues are similar for any career break that potential employers may not understand. This includes things like invisible disabilities, mental ill health and domestic abuse where there may be workplace concerns about people’s capability, underlying negative beliefs and stigma.
My first answer is no doubt too simple, but I do really believe it: If an organisation would discriminate against you for any of these issues, they are probably not the workforce for you. You will get a sense for this at interview, following interview and in how people address their questions to you.
Secondly; employers are increasingly recruiting for values, strengths and resilience in their staff team. As someone who manages an invisible disability and who has recovered from an abusive relationship I’d say that you have these in buckets.
You understand the importance and value of trust and respect as a foundation to interpersonal relationship; you have demonstrated great courage rebuilding your life following the devastation of abuse. You are resilient, able to embrace and navigate change and you are able to focus on solutions rather than problems. What’s not to like
Your experiences strengthen you as an employee and those strengths are worth everything to a potential employer. Be proud of them and share examples that demonstrate them.
Finally, my last bit of advice is to plan and manage how you will have these conversations. If we don’t plan we get anxious and risk oversharing or becoming too emotional. Decide in advance what you are prepared for people to know and stick to it. Discuss the situation in a matter of fact way, calmly and removing any hint of drama. Rather than judge you, people will admire you for your strength and honesty.