What made you want to work supporting victims of DA? 

I had always worked previously in the care field, so working with clients with dementia and Alzheimer’s and secure units for people that were unsafe to reside in a normal care facility.  

There was a job advertised for an overnight sleep-in warden in refuge which I applied for. I would take over from the support workers at 5 o’clock then would come onsite at 7pm and spend time with the service users before my sleep in commenced. 

And you’ve just worked your way up since then?  

Yeah, it's just been probably been a case of being in the right place at the right time. I progressed quickly, a staff member left so they asked me if I would work full time and become a family support worker.  

I love it, I love what I do and seeing the changes that we make in people’s lives. We don’t change everybody’s life, but we do sow a seed, it might not be the right time for them the first time, but they know what’s out there and where we are when they are ready.  

What personal qualities do you think you need to do this job?  

Number one is being able to listen, it’s also important to be non-judgemental and to understand people’s reactions to what they have been through – it may not be how you expect it to be. So just be kind, be there to swoop them up and empower them. It’s so important to give them as much knowledge as you can.  

You can change people’s lives doing this job, for the better. I just think it's about being kind and just being nice to people.  

Who is your role model?  

I don’t have one, I don’t have one because I admire lots of people for lots of reasons. I think everybody whether it’s a colleague I work with or somebody who’s famous or even it's one of our service users – everybody has different qualities. Everybody is different and that’s what makes them unique. Some people are really quirky, other people you have to draw more out of to get to know them. I think we all have good qualities, and we all probably have a bad quality that we could change and improve on. So, I admire lots of people rather than just having one role model.  

What is the most inspiring thing you have seen with someone you have been supporting?  

I think it’s the client’s journey. I’m going to use somebody I worked with in refuge a few years ago. She had gone through horrific domestic abuse; she had been tied to a chair and used to smuggle drugs in and out of the country. She did have a nice life before and had a really good upbringing and when you got through her wall to speak to her and broke it down, she was such a lovely person to work with.  

She came into refuge and she stayed in her room for 3 weeks before I could even get her to come out and engage. But every day I knocked on her door and I said “I’m here, when you want me, we can have a cup of tea and chat when you’re ready” this went on for 3 weeks. On the third week she opened the door and she had spent 3 weeks just crying and building herself up, adjusting to the new situation. She was with us for probably 8 or 9 months in refuge and she then moved into her own 1-bedroom place. She then went and trained to be a nurse and now specialises in Cardiology. She is doing amazing; I still hear from her from time to time.   

What would you say to your best friend if they were experiencing DA?  

I’d like to think if my best friend was experiencing domestic abuse, she would come and talk to me, knowing what I do!  

I would break it down to her, talk and explain that there is help out there. If she wasn’t happy to disclose it all to me, I would say that’s fine and tell her that I work for an amazing organisation that will help you. I would say if you don’t want to tell me, talk to one of my colleagues. I know some of my colleagues really well and I know they would give her the best advice ever.