In late March 2022, Michelle and her husband Gary were walking hand-in-hand outside a mall in Manukau, South Auckland. After a driver mounted the curb, Michelle and Gary were struck, resulting in severe injuries for Michelle, and devastatingly, Gary losing his life.
Almost a year later, in March 2023, Michelle bravely took the stand at the offender’s sentencing hearing to deliver her victim impact statement. It marked the end of a long and at times overwhelming court process. A process that Michelle isn’t sure she would have been able to get through without her Victim Support Worker, Deborah.
“I’ll be honest, I really did not know Victim Support existed before this,” Michelle says. “It was just like a ray of sunshine from nowhere when Deborah popped up at my bedside.”
Deborah first met Michelle in person after she was transferred from hospital to a rehabilitation facility, and the pair immediately clicked. “While I was visiting Michelle on that first day, she let me know that she was getting very overwhelmed with the calls from the court and Police,” Deborah explains. “For me those calls were a reminder of everything, and I struggled with it,” says Michelle. “So, when I met Deborah, I asked her if she would be able to take those calls for me and pass on any important information.
"We were given financial support, emotional support, and practical support – I was totally blown away, and extremely grateful."
On that same day, from Michelle’s room in the rehabilitation facility, Deborah called the court and requested that all updates be passed on to her, and that she would then relay them to Michelle.
“Deborah was always so considerate of contacting me with updates,” says Michelle. “She just had a way of softening the information and was so compassionate.”
The court process can be incredibly intense, and often takes a huge emotional toll on those involved. Pair this with Michelle dealing with the loss of her husband, as well as life altering injuries, Deborah’s support was absolutely vital for her and her whānau.
“Deborah was my support in so many ways,” she says. “We were given financial support, emotional support, and practical support – I was totally blown away, and extremely grateful.”
On the day of the sentencing hearing, Deborah was there in court with Michelle and her family. She watched Michelle as she read her victim impact statement, and then took the stand herself to read statements on behalf of Michelle’s son and daughter. “I couldn’t have read those myself,” says Michelle, “so it was really lovely to have Deborah’s support.”
For Deborah, the mahi she does is a true privilege. Journeys like the one she has had with Michelle remind her of this. “It’s humbling that Michelle has allowed me to walk this journey with her, and it really brings home just how important our service is.”
“You shouldn’t underestimate the value of people,” Michelle adds. “The support doesn’t take away the pain, but it helps you progress, and it’s so, so valuable.”
After the loss of her husband, Michelle faced a daunting court process that she would have struggled to get through without her Support Worker, Deborah.
Kathy helped Annie after being a victim of a traumatic robbery, and her emotional support helped in navigating the criminal justice system.
A touching story of grief and healing as Lynene shares her journey of the loss of her son Cameron and the help of Victim Support Worker Karen.
Chiquita survived the Aramoana massacre that killed her father and turned her struggle into a positive by volunteering at Victim Support.
After Tina's husband was fatally struck by a vehicle, she felt lost and alone in her grief. That's when Victim Support Worker Donna stepped in.
Jaedi's world was turned upside down when she heard the news of a tragic accident back home in Gisborne.
Victim Support helped Simon, a family harm victim, get after months of psychological abuse, threats and violence.
The story of two individuals impacted by suicide and how Victim Support was a crucial source of comfort and support during their time of need.
A woman reflects on the murder of her mother by the man who controlled their lives, and the subsequent loss of her family.
Diane shares the story of losing her daughter in a tragic road accident, caused by impatience and a split-second decision.
Karilyn Collins, whose son Glen was murdered, overcame her fear of leaving her home to speak in support of a new bill promoting victims' rights.
After Tina and her whānau lost a loved one to homicide, Victim Support Worker Shelly went above and beyond to help them through the court process.
Victim Support Worker Linda offered crucial support to Neil after his wife passed away in a tragic road accident.
Asma tragically lost her husband in the Christchurch mosque attack. Left alone with two young daughters, Asma turned to Victim Support for help.
Sarah shares her experience of being a witness in the trial for the death of her baby boy, who was killed by her ex-partner.
At Donna’s side from the first court hearing through to sentencing, Support Worker Deidre was instrumental in enabling her to give good evidence.
A traumatic experience can have such a huge impact on oneself that we can carry around for a lifetime.
Rahimi Ahmad and his family have made a fresh start, happily in their first home, made possible by donated funds paid to them by Victim Support.
Noela's life was shattered when her daughter was brutally murdered but thanks to her "diamond" support worker Nicky, she found the strength to speak out.
A grieving mother describes the invaluable support she received from Victim Support after her daughter's suicide.