As Diana grew older, she felt out of place. When she was 13 years old, Diana learned that she had been adopted as an infant. “I felt betrayed, but finally understood why I didn’t fit in and felt disconnected from other family members,” she said.
After learning she had been lied to, tension grew between Diana and her mom. “I started to lash out at my mom and told her she couldn’t tell me what to do because she wasn’t my real mom,” she said. Diana’s behavior affected her school life as well. “I started acting out. I got into fights even if someone looked at me wrong. I had a chip on my shoulder.”
Diana’s mom moved her to a different school and had her go live with her father. Diana loved it. “I got whatever I wanted from my dad,” she said. With little accountability at home, Diana started to hang out with the wrong crowd. And at 16, she was raped by a popular boy at school. “I blacked out and blocked it out of my life and no one knew about it,” she said.
Diana said she “became a rebel” and got involved with gangs. “I had boyfriends and did anything and everything they wanted me to do,” she said. “I got drugs and money for them however they wanted me to get it.” Diana started using drugs, as her boyfriends physically and sexually abused her. “(The abuse) went on for years.”
After high school, Diana had her first of four children and spent the next several years in and out of abusive relationships. After an incident with one of her daughter’s dads, all the kids went to live with Diana’s father. “He didn’t like how I was raising my kids,” she said. “He hurt for my kids. My dad is a wonderful man.”
After her mom died and her kids were gone, Diana’s addiction to meth got more serious. “I hit rock bottom,” she said. “I used drugs to hide the pain of what I was putting my kids through.”
After 10 years of drug use and living with an abusive partner, Diana entered a sober living program. “I was sober and clear thinking, but I did it without God and I thought I was OK.”
But Diana reconnected with a friend and relapsed. The friend began to threaten her and sell her for money and drugs. “He made videos and gave me to people,” she said, adding that he exploited her and forced her to live in a moving van. “I still cannot look at a U-Haul to this very day.”
After escaping the van and living on the streets, Diana’s daughter-in-law found her and took her to the Lighthouse’s emergency shelter. Diana immediately felt peace when she entered the shelter. “I felt safe and like it was going to be OK. I didn’t want to leave.”
Diana soon entered the Life Recovery Program and seeds of hope began to grow. Other women in the program shared their experiences of being forced into sex for money. Diana began to realize the gravity of what she’d been through. “I thought what happened to me was normal, but looking back, I don’t recognize myself,” she said. Through counseling and the classes, Diana has peace in her heart. “I am learning to surrender it all. God and I found a relationship. All my trust and faith is in the Lord.”
Diana has been baptized and is free from her addiction. “My past does not define who I am and who I am becoming,” she said. “I am keeping a strong grip on Him and He has brought me back home. I trust He will restore my family. All I need is God and His love.”