Friday, November 27, 2009

Daughters & Fathers


It amazes me when adult survivors of abuse are surprised when their fathers (or mothers) tell them, 'I love you', 'You are such a wonderful daughter' (or son) or, 'I am so proud of you', etc. Shouldn't they have been hearing that all their lives? Why should this be a surprise? I, too, know this all too well.

It saddens me to think it may be years for some survivors to wait to hear these words (or for some they may never hear these words from their parents).

It's only been approximately a month since my father and I have been reuinted. Since that time, we have been communicating via phone and e-mail. It's been wonderful. We have a lot of lost time to catch up on. Most survivors have a hard time with trust, a known fact. I am just learning from my stepmother many things about my father from years past, that I believe had I known years ago, may have changed how I viewed my father, as well as myself. *NOTE - My father was not my abuser

As a mature adult, I realize we can not go back in time. Knowing that, I must take newly learned information and do what is best, and use it to it's fullest potential.

I think if I can learn from the past, maybe we can open the doors for the future generations.

Thirty years have past since my rape, tears, pain, not to mention bruises and horrific relationships on my part. But you see, it's not just about the rape. It's a lot more than that. It's what was not done afterward. It was the lack of effort on my parents end. It was the lack of emotions showed to me. That is where a lot my pain came from. Then entered many unhealthy relationships! I also want to learn about why he did not do the things he "should have done" (I feel he should have done). Why he didn't communicate his feelings with me.

Why do some men communicate things with their daughters and some do not?

Daughters need to hear what their daddies are thinking and feeling Fathers!

Survivors want to hear from You!

Awareness is awareness. It is time that PARENTS own up to their end of the bargain. The insight I may learn from my father may be well worth digging into. I realize going in that it will be painful, but I feel that what I may end up finding is some valuable information that can be shared to prevent unhealthy relationships from happening in other families.

Something went very wrong a long time ago. We can't fix what happened 30 years ago, but we may be able to find out what could have been done differently, and share with others so they can change their lives now.

Of course, this is on the assumption that my father is willing. I am hoping that he will (positive assumption on my part), but through all the conversations we have had up to this point, and he has expressed his joy and proudness of my journey in life thus far; if he understands the depth his knowledge (and pain) would bring to myself and others, I welcome it with open arms (and wings).

I continue to inspire and empower survivors of abuse. That is my goal. Thank you Angela Shelton. I love you.

My story is forever ongoing, and I would have it no other way.

*NOTE - Not all survivors are able to have a positive relationship with their parents. This is an individual situation.

My Roadtrip to Charleston, SC


My trip to Charleston was very exciting! It was a spur of the moment roadtrip. An organization called, “Darkness to Light”, which is an organization that raises awareness of child sexual abuse by educating adults about the steps they can take to help prevent, recognize and react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse, was having a fundraising “Gala” on Thursday evening.

Angela Shelton was presenting the “Voice of Courage” award to Mackenzie Phillips on Thursday evening.

On Friday, since I was disappointed that I was not able to attend the Gala event, Angela and I were texting back and forth while I was at work about the possibiliy of me at least coming to Charleston so I could spend some time with Mackenzie, because she (Mackenzie) was going to be working with us on the Angela Shelton Foundation. The founder of “Darkness to Light” (Anne Lee) was having a dinner that evening (Friday) and had invited me to attend, as well. My heart stopped! My head was spinning. All I could think of was that I was at work, my responsibilities, etc. I told her it was a 5hr drive and "Are you crazy"! (Ha) She said, “Come on!” So, I told her I would see what I could do. I checked with my office and they said, “No problem”. So I called Joe and told him of the communications and he said, “No problem”…Wow! Needless to say, I was in heaven! So, by 1:30pm on Friday I was out of the office and headed to Charleston! Just like that!

I met individuals from CNN, and a designer from Los Angeles (Cory Savage). But the information I gained, the insight I now value, the warmth of individuals and the connections I felt, especially with Mackenzie was unbelievable. She has such a beautiful, giving soul. She wants to give back. This is what I find with most survivors. When they become a part of the chosen family of survivorhood, this is what many want to do with their lives. It is beautiful. As I was sitting with her thinking of (her story) we are all "one". She (and Angela) and I, each have different stories, come from different backgrounds, grew up in different parts of the country; but in the end we are all feeling the same. We are all wanting to make a difference in this world for other survivors of abuse. And when I say, "we are all feeling the same", I don't necessarily mean just about wanting to make a difference, that goes without saying, but also on the inside. We are all survivors. We have all SURVIVED. The three of us sitting together with such a varied background and have been brought together - it all happens for a reason! Angela Shelton does it again folks! She made it possible for me to be there for that experience. Ahhhh. Squish!

Angela, Mackenzie, Cory and I spent hours talking, sharing stories, laughing...that information will remain with me. What I can tell you is that this trip is one that I will never forget!

The trip wasn't all personal, we did conduct quite a bit of business in a short amount of time! We have wonderful news headed in everyones direction soon, so keep posted!

Thank you Darkness to Light. Thank you Angela Shelton Foundation. Thank you Cory Savage. Thank you Mackenzie Phillips. Thank you Angela Shelton for ALL you have done in my life! Oh, it’s great to be alive! God is good!

Update 10/9/10: Please visit www.jdiaz998.blogspot.com A posting dated 10/8/10 will state the update. Also, as mentioned at the beginning of this blog, please read my new blog at www.dianndiaz.wordpress.com . Thank you!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Domestic & Sexual Violence Awareness Month

I've made 600 Teal & Purple ribbons for our community for the awareness of Domestic & Sexual Violence! (and am making more because the orders keep on-a-coming!!) One of our awesome forensic nurses posted this information on the hospital website and a radio station got a hold of it!! This nurse, our director and two others are being interviewed this week on the radio for awareness! Rock on! Keep TALKING everyone!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mackenzie Phillips Speaks Out

I am very proud of Mackenzie for speaking out. Of course I am...For any survivor to Speak Out about their abuse - it is for others to hear and to find help.

What has come to the forefront of my mind during this past week is, "What is going on in the mind of some of my relatives" ~ ~ Mackenzie's story is all too familiar...

Oh, how I would love to communicate with certain individuals about the past 30 years during this media opportunity! But, not every survivor wants to talk. I understand this.

I have often wondered how "they" are through all these years.

Are "they" healing? Have they raised children to have healthy relationships? Did they break the cycle of abuse? I do not know the answers to any of these questions.

But I do pray that God, and the power and determination of other Survivors have helped them along the way!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pure Determination

That's what it is...Pure determination...self-examination...wanting to be happy...that is how I found my inner strength to help establish who I actually am!

No one else could do it for me. No one else wanted to! I had no support growing up...So, for those of you that feel alone, just know this.. you are NOT alone. I used to think so..There are many survivors out here that you can lean on. But you have to want to be happy for YOU - no one else.

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

My life took an unexpected turn at the age of fourteen; my uncle raped me. For the next 11 years, my life became a living hell. My parents did nothing about the rape, they divorced, I was sent to a boarding school, I later married an alcoholic who physically and emotionally abused me, then after divorcing him, I later was engaged to a man who almost murdered my son after abusing me for two years.

I took these experiences worked through them to reach the level of a true survivor. I am active in my community 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 numerous organizations to the prevention of Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse and Child Advocacy. Some of these include, but are not limited to, RAINN - where I am on the Speakers Bureau, Women's Resource Center of the New River Valley, where I am the Sexual Assault Services Coordinator. My son and I were also named the "Speakers of the Year", 2003-2004, by Women in Distress in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

...Pure Determination...30 years and going strong!

Married to Law Enforcement - Healthy Relationships?

Recently a wife has been reported missing. Her husband was a police sergeant for 29 years. He is under suspicion for her disappearance. His prior wife was found dead in a bathtub. There were 18 domestic violence calls made to the house within a two-year period with the prior wife. Is this a typical marriage for those in law enforcement?

It is well known that the stress of police work takes its toll on family life. The stress this job produces can certainly disrupt the normal flow of any marriage. However, it would be a mistake to write that police officers have more problems than people in other professions. Because of the nature of police work, the amount of unresolved stress from wherever it came from is a critical matter. Unrelenting, excessive stress has a deteriorating effect upon judgment, emotional control, logical thinking ability, and accuracy of perception. In most jobs, the deterioration of these faculties in a worker will have no great consequences. For a police officer, such a situation could become a matter of life and death.

A police officers marriage, like any other marriage, needs a strong foundation, trust, commitment, honesty, and a lot of patience for the spouse. A typical marriage is work in itself to keep strong and healthy. Add in strange hours, working on holidays and birthdays, court time, and being called-in at all hours, increases the stress level exponentially. The spouse needs to understand they will be working with prostitutes, drug addicts, murderers, etc., and don’t forget the possibility of those drive-by shootings. Oh yes, and of course, the domestic disputes are well known to be the most dangerous calls for the police to respond to. If you feel you can handle this and much more, and be the supportive spouse, you have a chance at having a healthy marriage with a law enforcement individual.

There can be numerous effects from being married to law enforcement. Often time’s partners will argue about the long hours one is working. Because of those long hours, the spouse needs to be caught up on their sleep, so in turn doesn’t have much time with the family. This adds a lot of pressure to the other spouse and can cause resentment and could also lead into depression. Resentment could also be caused from not spending quality time with one another. They married the law enforcement spouse because they wanted to be with that person, not be continually waiting at home. Being in charge of everything for that person instead of being with that person is not what they had planned on when they said, “I do.”

If you have children, these effects can trickle down to them, if not handled appropriately. I have seen this happen all too frequently. It is up to the adults to handle these situations properly. The children of these marriages did not ask to be brought into that environment. It is up to the parents to provide safe, nurturing homes.

Your spouse choose law enforcement for their life’s work. Law enforcement will be the family mistress until retirement. The spouse who is in law enforcement, however, should also recognize the fact that since they have chosen this profession, it places large demands on the family. The family sacrifices a lot of their time and activities with that parent. Additionally, the demands that are placed on the other spouse also grow. They must take over additional household chores, be ready to change plans immediately, etc.

Chances are the police sergeant mentioned at the beginning of this essay would have had the same kind of relationship with his spouse no matter what type of profession he choose. It seems to this author that he is a controlling, manipulative, and over confident individual. When the stresses of the job are thrown into the relationship, it probably didn’t help any situation in their marriages.

We (the spouses) are the ones the men and women talk to every night after a long shift. We are the ones they tell of their fears, feats, and frustrations. We work hard to create a strong foundation at home for our families. Moreover, we must keep it all together with a smile, when all we want to do is smother them in a protective hug, just as we do to our children when they get hurt.

Prior to any marriage, communication is key. Know what you are getting into if you are going to get married into law enforcement. My years as a law enforcement wife have been the best years of my life. Not because my husband was a detective. But because my husband is who he is inside, not for what he did for a living. If two individuals do not love one another, do not have faith, commitment, and the desires for the relationship, it will not be healthy. Just like any other relationship in any other profession. My husband gave to the community every day wearing his badge as he walked out the door. There isn’t anyone more proud of my husband than his wife. But ask me if I am happy that he retired after 30 years! (this last paragraph - updated - my husband recently retired from LE!!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

Know Respect
Do you respect each other’s opinions, decisions, and boundaries?
Respect means that each person values who the other is and understands the other person’s boundaries. Respect means that one partner doesn’t push the other in to doing things that he or she is not comfortable with, such as drinking, using drugs, and sexual contact. Respect also means that a partner appreciates who the other person is as an individual and does not try to change his or her partner or control the way he or she acts, dresses, or does. Mutual respect is an essential component every healthy relationship.

Know Equality
Do both of you have equal say in the choices made about the relationship?
As an equal partner in a relationship, both of you need to have equal say on everything – from the types of activities you do together, the people you hang out with together, the sexual contact you engage in, to the amount of time you spend together. If one partner makes all the decisions in your relationship it is not a healthy relationship.

Know Individuality
Do you encourage your friends to have other friends and activities?
In a healthy relationship friends encourage each other to be themselves; after all, being an individual is what makes you you. Individuality is what attracted your friends to you in the first place. As a good friend you should encourage your friends to maintain their individuality. Support your friends in doing the things that they love – sports, music, academics, etc. – maintaining friendships with people other than yourself, and having their own sense of style. Remember, it’s the differences in people that make them interesting.

Know Safety
Are your relationships the places where you feel safest of all?
In healthy relationships partners feel safe both emotionally and physically. Emotional safety means that you feel comfortable being you – expressing your opinions, having feelings, and enjoying activities and people that you like – without fear of being made fun of or put down. Physical safety means that you are not being hit, slapped, punched, restrained, or being forced to engage in unwanted sexual activity, or threatened with any of the above. If you do not feel physically or emotionally safe in your relationship, you are not in a healthy relationship.

Know Support
Is your boyfriend or girlfriend concerned for you and want what is best for you?
In healthy relationships both partners care for and support each other. Your partner should want you to succeed in school and other activities you may participate in. For example, your partner should understand if you need to miss his or her basketball game to study for a big test; at the same time, you should encourage your partner and support him or her to continue having fun and playing basketball. If you don’t feel like you are being supported in your relationship, it may not be the best relationship for you.

Know Acceptance
Do you pretend to be someone you aren’t to keep a relationship going?
In healthy relationships both partners accept each other for who they really are – including religious background, friends, activities they enjoy (both together and apart), and each individual’s sense of style. You shouldn’t have to change who you are, or compromise your beliefs to make someone like you

Know Trust
Are your relationships built on honesty?
Honesty and trust are the cornerstones of any healthy relationship. If you have ever caught your friend or dating partner in a huge lie, you know that it takes time to rebuild your trust in him or her. You should always be honest in a relationship because it strengthens the relationship and builds trust and there is no way to have a healthy relationship with out trust. Partners in healthy relationships choose to trust in each other – for example, a partner believes the other when he or she says they are at the mall with friends and the partner doesn’t demand proof. If your partner doesn’t trust you and give you the benefit of the doubt, you may not be in a healthy relationship.

It's SO Worth It!

I stayed late at work last night to wait for one of my volunteers (she's awesome - she is helping me out with one of my upcoming DV/SA projects for the October awareness!!)...Anyway...she thanked me again for the work that I do, and my presentation that I give to volunteers during my training...she mentioned that it meant so much to hear "my story". She wishes she had known of a Women's Center when she was going through turmoil in her life years ago...We talked for a few moments...Imagine THAT - she thanked ME - She's a volunteer helping ME with a project!!! lol However, I did see what she was saying, but, folks, I am so in the weeds this time of year, you can't imagine how much I appreciate volunteers help!!

After all these years working with volunteers and survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, it still amazes me how much I love my work!

I was SO meant to be on this earth doing what I do!

One Voice

Just One Voice
Singing in the darkness
All it takes is ONE VOICE
Singing so they hear what's on your mind

And when you look around you'll find
There's more than One Voice
Each and every note another octave
Hands are joined and fears unlocked
If only One Voice would start on its own
We need just One Voice facing the unknown
And that One Voice would never be alone

It takes that One Voice
....Barry Manilow

Saturday, July 4, 2009

30 Years of Independence Days

30 years ago this weekend a family member sexually assaulted me. I know for some of you, this may be hard for you to read.

As most of you know, I work at a Rape Crisis Center; working with victims of Sexual Assault (meeting them at hospitals, supporting them during their exam, training volunteers, and cooridinating the program).

I have always believed that what has happened throughout my life, happened for a reason. I still do. Each day I live for that day and live it for it's fullest. I help whomever is in my path to the best extent that I possibly can.

Each 4th of July holiday, I obviously can't help but recall the events that took place when I was 14 years of age, and brought me to where I am today. This weekend being the 30th anniversary, I am recalling many things, and now, and with the experience I have had, am realizing many things about myself (some good, some not so good!).

For those people in my life that I may have hurt along the way - I am truly sorry - I never meant to ever hurt anyone. I know that many times throughout my life I was hurting inside and did not know how to express myself (that is no excuse - but an understanding hopefully some of you can accept). I am continually learning about myself and am hoping to be a better person - day by day - and can only pray for forgiveness from those of you that I may have hurt along my path of life.

Because of the Lord and support of my wonderful husband and son, may I follow on the path where I need to be.

Yes, this "Indepedance Day" has made me "Independant" for many years, there is no denying that - I had no other choice for a long time.

But I can tell you I truly miss the love of my family and friends each and every day. And it is very deep.

*Please don't let the little things in life (and you know what they are) create more problems for you or others in your life than need be. Put things into perspective!

*People will only accept your help if they want help.

*Always offer a victim help. Let it be their choice.

*It is never the victims fault.

*Always believe a child that discloses sexual abuse.

*Be supportive of anyone that wants to talk to you about abuse. Offer them a hotline number from a local rape crisis center OR offer them the RAINN Hotline; 1-800-656-HOPE - or offer them to visit: www.rainn.org

*RAINN will transfer you to your local rape crisis center

*Remember, if someone that wants to talk to you about abuse, does not want you to solve their problems - let them talk!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Passion

Passion...If it weren't for passion, my zest for speaking on behalf of victims would be nil. Some would consider the fact that I have gone through turmoil in my life; I do also at times. However, as I have said many times, if I had not gone through what I have lived, I would not be able to have the voice I have for thousands of individuals. I feel blessed, yes blessed, to be here today in order to stand tall and proud to say I am a "SURVIVOR".

In working day to day at a Rape Crisis Center helping victims of crime, I sit holding the hands of rape victims (from the youngest age of 18 months to the age of 80 to date), as well as helping the families of the victims. I have also trained volunteers to do the same. I feel this is not enough.

I have spoken to thousands of individuals at conferences, trainings, schools, etc. There such a need to reach out to many more about sexual assault and domestic violence. There are many of wonderful speakers out there nationwide, and I am going to reach out even further.

Won't you please help me reach those that have not been sought? If you belong to a school, law enforcement, church, civic organization, etc., please contact to schedule a booking.

A Sample of Topics Include:

*Healthy Relationships
*Domestic Violence – Why Do
Women Stay?
*Sexual Assault
*Sexual Harassment
*Domestic/Dating Violence 101
*Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault
*Sexual Assault on your College Campus

Saturday, May 16, 2009

University of Mary Washington

The Virginia Coalition Against Campus Sexual Assault is sponsoring a statewide conferences focusing on emerging gender-based violence issues on college campuses. The target audience for this conference includes campus based advocates, counselors, educators, student affairs professionals, and administrators, as well as community based advocates, counselors, educators, and anyone else interested in working with college students on gender-based violence issues.

The Virginia Coalition Against Campus Sexual Assault is a network of campus and community professional throughout Virginia who work on gender based violence issues. With support from the Virginia Department of Health, the Coalition offers networking and educational opportunities through such avenues as statewide conferences and webinars.

Angela Rose, Keynote Speaker
At the age of seventeen, Angela was abducted at knifepoint while leaving her job at a shopping mall in the suburbs of Chicago. She was taken and then assaulted by a repeat sex offender on parole for murder. Angela was eventually let go by the offender; a bruised and disoriented Rose was then shocked at the treatment of her case by the authorities. All of the anguish that existed during the abduction was immediately replaced by anger and a strong sense of vigilance. Angela worked with the perpetrator's previous victims as well as the community to help enact Illinois Sexually Dangerous Persons Commitment Act in 1998. Upon attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Angela became frustrated by the lack of activism on this crucial issue. Angela then founded the organization PAVE to create education and action surrounding the issues of sexual violence, which was inclusiveness to all individuals and their experiences. As the Executive Director, Angela has cultivated PAVE into a national organization and continues to inspire others to join the movement to end sexual assault by traveling the country and abroad.

Campus and Community Collaboration
I will be speaking on behalf of my local agency, along with Lee Carter Smith from Radford University and Jenn Underwood from Virginia Tech about collaboration between colleges and university campuses and the larger communities in which they exist and how vitally important in addressing gender based violence. Whether it is providing services to survivors of violence or working on prevention and education initiatives, neither group can be as effective on their own as they can be together. This session will explore avenues of campus and community collaboration, including both challenges and promising practices. Examples from Virginia communities will be used and ample time will be given for group discussion.

The afternoon will be filled with breakout sessions for the attendees to choose from various topics from engaging men in violence prevention, to bystander behavior, trauma response, to programming roundtable discussions.

It's wonderful to be a part of dedicated individuals that care about the communities, and the future of the generations to come!