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PTSD in the Police Force – Pia’s Story.

Pia had been serving in the NSW police force for 18 years when she realised that something wasn’t right anymore. As a general duties sergeant, she had been exposed to almost two decades of traumatic incidents, all of which took a significant toll on her health, and eventually forced her to step away from the job she loved.

As a police officer, Pia was exposed to things every day that she says most people will never experience. Each shift was different, and she describes some of the things that officers might encounter during their work. “You could see a deceased, a violent domestic, a car accident, the death of a child, a sexual assault.”

Her friends would ask her how she survived it, and her response was always, “I don’t know. I just put it in a box and put it away.” The traumas Pia had experienced left her feeling numb and emotionless. She stopped feeling happy or sad. She began turning to alcohol and at one point she was drinking a bottle of wine every night.

“Everyone around me thought I had my life together,” Pia explains. “But I didn’t.”

The trauma compounded and she wasn’t coping. She didn’t realise that she had developed a psychological injury, but it was beginning to impact every area of her life and she no longer felt capable of doing her job.

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She describes the moment when she knew something had to change: “I knew I wasn’t right. I put my stuff in the change rooms, and I remember looking at myself in the mirror […] going, ‘what are you doing? Don’t be here. This isn’t right for you.’”

“I was in the cops for 18 years. How did I not know what PTSD was?” she asks now. It was only when she started to receive treatment for her psychological injuries that Pia realised what she was going through wasn’t normal. She was unable to work, and the stress and pressure began to grow. She didn’t realise that she could make a claim and was unaware of her entitlements.

Getting help

It got to the point where her partner wanted to help Pia explore her options and speak to a lawyer, so they contacted Law Partners. Pia was introduced to her lawyer, Chantille, who immediately put her at ease. “I had that relief that someone was looking out for me, whereas previously no one was.”

Chantille took the time to get to know Pia and her situation personally. This allowed Pia to trust that Law Partners would fight the battle for her to ensure that she would receive all of the workers compensation that she was entitled to.

Through Chantille’s hard work and the support of Law Partners, Pia was awarded the maximum amount of compensation that she was entitled to.

Emerge & See

After receiving her settlement, Pia was determined to make a difference to others in her situation. She had met her friend Alana in the police academy, and they’ve remained friends to this day. Alana had also left the police force due to PTSD and had made a claim through Law Partners.

Together, they were able to start Emerge and See, an organisation dedicated to helping other emergency service workers access support, connection, and resources to overcome PTSD.

“Some days are hard. I still struggle. I still have treatment,” Pia says now. “But I can honestly say that I’ve fulfilled my purpose.”

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