“I always knew I was quite good in a crisis,” says Dee. “Growing up, I was the moderator of the family that worked to hold everyone together.”
It’s an attribute that stuck with her through adulthood and came to the forefront in 2008 when Dee tragically lost a family member to suicide.
“It was a different kind of trauma than I had dealt with before,” she says. “In 1989 I had been a victim of a fatal motor vehicle accident, so I suppose I understood trauma a little on a personal level, but this was different.”
Following the suicide, Dee noticed that she naturally fell into the role of supporting the family members that were most affected by the incident.
During this period, she also had her first interaction with Victim Support. “I didn’t have a huge amount to do with our support worker at the time,” Dee says. “But what I do know is that following a traumatic situation like the one my family and I had just been through, having someone there who isn’t connected to the family is really helpful.”
“You can say anything to them, there’s no expectation, and there’s no pulling energy away, only a giving of energy – that’s so important.”
Dee explains that it took 10 years for herself and her family to start to feel like the loss wasn’t weighing heavily on them anymore. During this time, she met a lot of people who had been through similar situations and was able to use her lived experience to support them, once again being drawn towards providing support following a crisis.
In 2021, Dee begun volunteering with Victim Support once a week: “That shift was something I really looked forward to. My day job also involved supporting people, but this was on a whole different level.”
“I joined at the right time,” she says. “I’d lost both my parents over the previous four years, and I felt I was at a point where I had got over enough grief to support others again.”
While Dee acknowledges that life experience is incredibly helpful in the support worker role, she emphasises that you need to be in the right place to be able to do it. “We’ve all had different traumas and things happen to us, but you need to have moved away from that and be feeling okay within yourself before you can support others, otherwise you can get really stuck in it.”
Dee has now transitioned into a role as a full-time paid Support Worker with Victim Support and is enjoying the challenging and rewarding mahi.
“Our job isn’t to fix people,” she says. “Primarily our role is simply to be with people, surround them with support, and help them figure out the best way forward.”
“What I love is getting people to the stage that they are fully in control again,” says Dee. “You can see the difference from the first contact to where they are now and you know that they’ve got all the supports in place that they need – that, to me, is a job well done.”