If you haven’t read part 1 of Dianne’s story, please read it here first.
One night after moving into her own apartment, Dianne invited a friend over to hang out. When Dianne heard footsteps outside the door, she opened it to find a man with a gun instead of her friend. He forced himself in and raped her.
Afterward, the man told Dianne he came to rape and kill her, but he just couldn’t kill her. His words dumbfounded her, but she felt God protected her.
Dianne moved back home after that horrifying situation. Going back to church felt right, especially after meeting a good-looking guy named Mike there.
Mike and Dianne began dating and fell in love. A confidential talk with the pastor concerning her confusing feelings about her sexuality seemed to help until he betrayed her confidence by sharing her personal information with Mike in an attempt to keep him from marrying Dianne.
Mike and Dianne were married despite the pastor’s betrayal.
Their marriage wasn’t all they hoped it would be. Mike was drinking heavily, and Dianne was still smoking pot and drinking, which led to numerous fights.
After five and a half years of a tumultuous marriage, Dianne divorced Mike.
The next two years of Dianne’s life were spent in detox centers for her drug and alcohol addictions. But her addictions weren’t her only struggles. Her psychiatrist also diagnosed her with a porn addiction, bipolar disorder, depression, suicidal behaviors, and anorexia/bulimia. To put it lightly, Dianne was a mess.
“Once they figured out I had mental problems, the doctors moved me to a mental ward,” she remembers.
Dianne described those next 18 years in and out of mental institutions as a roller coaster ride. Her really dark periods were fueled by self-hatred and feelings of worthlessness.
“I carried so much anger and unforgiveness. It was heavy, heavy emotional baggage. I was in bondage. I truly felt hopeless as I didn’t know how to deal with the mental turmoil. Sadly, I was focused inward. I was so numb from the drugs that I didn’t have any awareness or care about anything or anyone around me.”
During her periods away from the psychiatric hospitals, she felt some determination to get to a better place. She told herself she wasn’t going to give up. “I wasn’t completely drug free. I tapered them down, but I’d start up again if I faced a really difficult situation.”
“At one point in my recovery, I reached out to my father. I accused him of sexually molesting me and blamed him for all my struggles. Instead of apologizing, he told me I was just like my mother, because I was being overly dramatic.”
“Because of my father’s denial of the abuse, I numbed my pain by drinking too much, and I know I was difficult to get along with,” Dianne remembers. One early Sunday morning, Dianne hit rock bottom when the woman she was living with had packed her bags and was walking out the door.
“My life was falling apart. I desperately wanted to commit suicide that morning. I cried out to God that I couldn’t live this way anymore. I didn’t want this life of pain. I begged for Him to take me. Even though I wanted to do it, I was afraid it was a sin and I’d go to hell.”
“Sitting there in my living room alone, I had a vision. I saw myself as God sees me. I felt His overwhelming love. I felt him say I was beautiful. That I wasn’t a drug addict. That I wasn’t a lesbian. I couldn’t stop crying. I realized I’m not who I thought I was. All my life I’d believed so many lies. So, so many lies. It was liberating to see how God sees me and to experience His love. I was so grateful He never gave up on me.”
Dianne was filled with so much joy and rejoicing at this life-changing experience that she called her co-worker Angela and asked if she could go to church with her that morning. Angela and the rest of the church welcomed Dianne with open arms.
ASIDE: One of the people Dianne is so grateful for is Angela. During the time they worked together, Dianne observed her actions and her words to see if she acted like all the other Christians she knew who were judgmental and unkind. “Angela was light among the darkness. Even though she knew what a mess I was, she was always so kind and loving to me. I was living in sin, and she never condemned me.”
Dianne never took another drink. Never did another drug. Never had a desire for a woman. From that moment forward.
Mike had gone his separate way when he and Dianne divorced, but she reached out to him when her father died. She learned his mother passed away the previous month.
When her father died, she felt as if she’d been set free from all those horrific memories of the past. But she was also faced with the reality there would never be the chance to repair the relationship with him.
Mike and Dianne decided to begin dating again, almost 21 years after their divorce. Dianne had been set free from the demons of her past and wanted to finally live and enjoy life.
Several months into their dating relationship, Dianne’s grandmother passed away. Dianne looked over at Mike on the drive down to Florida for her grandmother’s funeral and said, “Let’s get married. We aren’t getting any younger. I want to enjoy life with you.”
Mike agreed, and a Justice of the Peace married them.
Dianne immersed herself in learning everything she could about God and His Word. “I learned about my identity in Christ. Not knowing that key concept had been my demise. Because I didn’t know who I was in Christ, I believed all the lies. And I lived my life believing in the identity of those lies,” Dianne shared.
Dianne’s wrote her book, Transforming Grace (2013), to help others understand and believe in their identity in Christ.
Dianne’s remarriage to Mike faced some challenges, because Mike chose to continue drinking heavily. Dianne had been freed from her alcohol addiction and wanted the same for Mike. A few years into their marriage, Dianne told him he had to choose between drinking and their marriage.
He responded, “I can’t believe you’re giving me an ultimatum.” Mike took off and was gone for a month.
Dianne went to God, and His response wasn’t what she thought it would be: “I just want you to love him.” God was asking her to give the same grace to Mike as He had given to her.
Mike returned home after a period of soul searching. He told Dianne he desired to be free of alcohol. He quit once and for all.
When Dianne was 57, she took several Bible classes at Charis Bible College. Those classes helped Dianne understand why she’d said yes to Jesus several times but nothing changed.
“My spirit was saved, but my soul and my body weren’t. I had to make a decision about following Him in my will, emotions, and thoughts, as well as not defiling my body with drugs, alcohol, and sexual sins.”
In 2010, a whisper from God encouraged Dianne to help other women who were prisoners in the sex industry. She was stunned and said to herself, “You gotta be kidding me, God. You know my past.”
Dianne was skeptical at first, but she searched online for an opportunity anyway. She learned about Scarlet Hope, a ministry in Kentucky whose mission is to share the hope of Jesus with every woman in the adult entertainment industry.
A weekend of training in Kentucky opened her eyes to the truth that she was just the person to help those women.
God would use her past to help others. Genesis 50:20 would be lived out in her life.
Kentucky was much too far for Dianne to be actively involved in Scarlet Hope, so she looked for a local ministry. She found Victoria’s Friends.
“When I first went to a dance club with Victoria’s Friends, all I could see was God’s little girls and their hearts. I didn’t see their nakedness; instead, I saw their broken hearts believing all the lies I’d once believed,” Dianne remembers. “I understand them. It felt right to bring Jesus in there. Every time I go, I realize how dead my former self is.”
I joined Dianne and several other women on Good Friday of this year to minister to the women at a local dance club. Victoria’s Friends supplied 80 handmade bags filled with devotionals, hand lotions, etc. to give to each of the dancers.
I spoke with and even prayed with several of the women, but I spent most of my time observing Dianne.
The dancers flocked to her, catching her up on their lives and asking her to pray with them. They KNEW she understood. They respect her immensely, and she loves them dearly.
Dianne’s wisdom comes from a place of deep pain that was restored. “If you’re going through any of the struggles I’ve gone through, you may feel isolated and alone. You’re not. There is help. You don’t have to carry the ugliness that happened to you. It’s not who you are. Seek God. Learn about your identity in Christ. Allow His Word to work and transform your thinking.”
I asked Dianne about her life as an overcomer. She said, “I choose not to be a victim. I choose to fight to overcome whatever life throws at me. I don’t meditate on the negative thoughts in my head.”
Each time we circled around to her past during her interview, Dianne would say, “I’m just so grateful God protected me and saved me.” She must have said it at least a dozen times. She truly understands the depths of which God pulled her from, and she is determined to express her gratitude at every opportunity.