A Purpose Greater Than Sorrow – Finding Courage After Rape and Domestic Violence

Rape. Shock. Disillusionment. Fear. Abuse. Declining Mental Health.

This is what I’ve lived with. This is my true story I want to share with you.

“Mom, Dad, I was raped by Uncle Sal.” The room is deafening quiet. Dad grabs his jacket without a word and storms out of the house.

I lived with the pain of feeling worthless as a child after being raped by a family member. Not having support or understanding from my parents and being sent away to a boarding school led me to succumb to alcohol.

Do you know what it’s like to live with domestic violence and feel you can’t get out? He isn’t that bad, at least no one can see…

After being in an abusive marriage and then finding my way out, I found myself back in the arms of another abuser. This time, my son was almost killed. The cycle had to end here.

Do you want to know how I broke the cycle of abuse?

I realized learning what a healthy relationship was what was needed and taught violence prevention in the school systems. I became an advocate, as well as a public speaker, sharing my personal story of abuse.

Do you live with mental health issues due to abuse and want to learn how I healed?

Being an advocate helping victims with their trauma and dealing with my own, led me to declining mental health and was on the brink of suicide. Learn how I dug myself out of the trenches and am living a joyful life.

I want to share my story with victims and their families in hopes to heighten awareness and to let them know they are not alone. To provide the tools they so desperately need.

There is a way out of an abusive relationship. You can heal. You can become a survivor!

To Be Released October 2021

A Purpose Greater Than Sorrow – Finding Courage after Rape and Domestic Violence

I’m telling my story in my memoir so others will be able to learn from it. It is my mission to help victims of abuse to find and use their voice, and to do all I can to stop the cycle of abuse.

My story is meant to illustrate to friends and family of someone who has experienced domestic abuse or sexual assault that they need allies who will not judge them and will advocate for them. You are in a position to help them understand their options, which can include filing a police report, seeking an order of protection, developing a safety plan, sharing crisis hotline and shelter phone numbers. Your job as an ally is to empower a victim to make their own decisions. As they do, they will be on the journey from victim to survivor.  

And if you’ve been a victim or survivor of abuse, I stand with you. No one deserves to be treated the way you have been treated. It may seem impossible to believe, but there is a way forward.

There is hope for those who’ve experienced abuse. There is purpose greater than the sorrow. I know this is true, and I wrote this book knowing it is true for you, too.


A Purpose Greater Than Sorrow – Finding Courage after Rape and Domestic Violence

Diann Diaz grew up in a dysfunctional home in a small town in Maine. At the age of fourteen, she was raped by a family member. The lack of support and understanding left her feeling worthless as a child. The desire to be loved and feel secure led her from one vicious domestic violence relationship to the next. She had to find the strength to be strong for herself, but most importantly, for her son.

Diann started teaching violence prevention to middle and high school students. She also became an emergency advocate, supporting victims of abuse in the police stations and hospitals. However, working with victims of trauma and struggling with her own past trauma, Diann faced declining mental health.

Could she rise above the difficulties and succeed in bringing some dignity and happiness back into her life?

This thought-provoking memoir also provides national resources and definitions for abuse victims and those with some mental health illnesses.

TO BE RELEASED OCTOBER 2021

Testimonials

Thank you very much for giving presentations at both of our regional domestic violence conferences.  Your workshop, “Domestic Violence Victims, Why Do They Stay?” helped us offer a rich mix of workshops on a wide range of subjects.  I heard many positive comments about your workshop during the day.  And a number of people, when asked “What did you like best? mentioned your presentation! – Buckey Boone ~ Director of Development, Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc.

Thanks for your powerful presentation at the Domestic Violence Conference.  It was so powerful.  I am a mature graduate student in the Social Work program.  The timing for me to hear your story could not have been better for me.  As a result of fear-based attitudes, I was forced to leave my home and community of 35 years overnight.  The exhibit has been used as a teaching tool for psychologists, therapists and as a tool for individuals who are working with the issues of “who I was, who I am and who I may become”.  It is the story of resilience and pursuing education and the changes that happen when people choose or are forced through life circumstances to individuate and/or change their world-view”. – Graduate Student ~ Radford University

“I had heard Ms. Diaz speak before at the Women’s Resource Center training and both times I felt captivated by her words and was moved by her experiences. I thought it brought the subject matter home to be able to hear from a survivor and see her strength and hear her story. I thought it was interesting to hear her advice for us if we end up in an abusive relationship or even if a close friend does. She had said nobody could have said anything to change her mind, however just offering the resources, such as the phone numbers, somewhere where she definitely would have seen would have helped her to start thinking about leaving. I thought that was a great non-intrusive way to help someone”. – Radford University Student

“I completely agree with the comment about how each person has her own breaking point and that was to you. I found it helpful to present that information so the women in the class can think about what their breaking point is.” – Virginia Tech Student

“Your presentation was very effective in showing that abusive situations often affect more than just one person.” – Virginia Tech Student

“I found your presentation extremely interesting and moving. Being in a class where we learn about violence from all aspects, from the perpetrator, to victim, to prosecutor, it was extremely interesting to hear a personal account and how you dealt with the experiences.” – Virginia Tech Student

“It was very heartfelt and touching, I greatly appreciated it” Training attendee

“I liked the story she told.  Showing and expressing what happened to her.  Her experience, why people stay.  Thank you for telling us your story”. Training attendee

“Thank you for sharing and helping bring awareness to others.” – Training attendee

“Was very touching and thank you for sharing.  It means a lot.  I am speechless.  Thank you.” – Training attendee

“I learned victims point of views”- Training attendee

“This was very heavy, but it helped me toward wanting even more to serve women in need!”- Training attendee

“I learned how each victim has a different reason for staying or leaving” –Training attendee

“I liked her honesty and willingness to tell her story, strengths, weaknesses.” –Training attendee

“I learned the effects of trauma” –Training attendee

“I really admire you for having the strength to tell your story and to speak so openly about it”- Training attendee

“I have worked with Diann since 2005 when she started volunteering as an emergency advocate at our local Women’s Resource Center. I am a forensic nurse examiner and have often stated we could not do our job without the advocates to help us. Diann is very professional in her work while showing these patients that she truly cares about them. Diann has gone above and beyond any expected duty. She has stayed in the emergency room with patients for many hours, even after the forensic nurses have left, because the patient was awaiting other care. Diann has worked many child abuse cases where she had to be the support system not only for the child but for the parents, as well as other siblings. She has fulfilled this role with great care and concern for these families.” – April Bennett – Forensic Nurse – Carillion New River Valley Medical Center

“I have had numerous interactions with Diann Diaz working with sexual assault patients during the past five years. Ms. Diaz has shown patience, empathy, support, and has, in my opinion, gone “beyond the call of duty”, as an advocate, on many occasions for patients.  As a Forensic Nurse, I can attest that it has been supportive to have emergency advocates such as Diann to be by the side of victims. Her caring and calming attitude has provided victims the sense of safety they so deserve. She not only has the keen ability to sense when to supply the victims with information; she has never been judgmental and I have always seen her in such a positive direction for helping victims of abuse.” Cris Whitaker – Forensic Nurse – New River Valley Medical Center

“I have known Diann Diaz for several years through our mutual involvement with sexual assault and domestic violence victims…Diann is an intelligent, motivated, and caring individual. She relates very well to her colleagues and is a comfort to those she helps. Her dedication to sexual assault victims is a tremendous asset to the law enforcement community and the pubic in general.” – Sgt. Mark G. Skidmore – Crime Scene Investigator – Giles County

“During the past years, I have had frequent interactions with Diann. I always found her to be kind, caring, and dependable. She is keenly devoted to her work, but also easy to work with and enjoyable to be around. As a Detective in a small town, I am often called upon in the middle of the night to meet with victims especially of sexual assault. Diann is often the first call I make to be there for the victim. Diann has not once complained of these hours. She is always there for the victim no matter what time of the day or night. She has a way of interacting with the individual that is both comforting and informative. She is always there to help the victim and answer any questions that they may have.”Amanda E. Cornwell – Detective – Radford City Department of Police

Healing

Starting advocacy with my son while he was in high school and both receiving Speakers of the Year Award our first year is difficult to put into words. We transformed something so tragic in our own lives and have helped pave the way for others to find their voice.

Pure determination. Self-examination and the desire to be happy. A lot of hard work throughout the years. That is how I found my inner strength to help establish who I actually am.

I had to decide to heal. No one else could do it for me. So, for those of you that feel alone, just know you are not alone. I used to think so. There are survivors you can lean on. But you have to want to be happy and heal for yourself–no one else. That is where it has to start.

I am an individual who has taken my personal story to thousands. I have helped those who are suffering and are afraid to ask for help; and I hope to avoid what happened to me from happening to others.

My life took an unexpected turn at fourteen; my uncle raped me. For the next 11 years, my life became a living hell. Long story short, my parents did nothing about the rape, they divorced, and I was sent to a boarding school. I later married an alcoholic who was physically and emotionally abusive toward me. I then finally found the strength to divorce. I later found myself in another unhealthy relationship and was engaged to a man who almost murdered my son, during which time he was also abusing me. That was my last straw–abusing my child. The cycle ended there.

I took these experiences and worked through them to reach the level of a true survivor. I became active in my community, which then led me to volunteering at a woman’s center with my son. I then started speaking at colleges, high schools, middle schools and church groups. I provide workshops at conferences and to several groups of “at risk” children throughout the area.

I am also dedicated to many organizations to the prevention of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy. Some of these include, but are not limited to, RAINNSpeakers Bureau, Healthy Families Planning Cmte, Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley, where I was the Sexual Assault Services Coordinator and also taught violence prevention programs to middle and high school students. My son and I were also graciously named the “Speakers of the Year “, 2003-2004, by Women in Distress in Broward County, Florida.

Everything happens for a reason.

Pure Determination