In one lifetime some would say I have suffered more trauma that you would think any one person could handle. I was molested as a little girl for a number of years by someone close to the family, I was raped on the beachfront when I was just 14 years old, I have suffered emotional and physical abuse. All of this caused me to rebel against the world and I threw myself into many different ways of trying to seek comfort from all the hurt and pain, from my innocence being taken from me. I remember feeling so hopeless and just worthless through my teenage years, at one point I even tried to take my life.
Through some silly decisions in my young adult years, I put myself into a dangerous position where I was again raped by 3 men. In 2001 i was involved in an armed robbery at my workplace, with guns to my head and back. In 2004 i decided to make a change and move to Johannesburg thinking a new city would help me start my life over and become whole again. I was almost starting to feel human again and then we had an armed robbery at our home there, with 8 Nigerians holding us at gunpoint and kicking us around.
This all threw me into a deeper pit of my own hell and I ended up looking for love in the wrong places. In 2007 i met someone who I then married, after this the emotional and physical abuse started setting in and I was beat up on a regular basis, scared to say or do anything out of line in case it would start over again. He was also a secret drug addict, which I was sure of but I could never mention anything as it would start all over again.
We moved out of town, to the Northern Province, where I wasn’t allowed to work, I was just to be a housewife, lonely with no friends. My family and friends at that point had disowned me for choosing this for my life, but it was a lot more than that for me. It wasn’t a conscious choice; it was a choice I made because I felt this kind of treatment was all I was worth. It didn’t matter to me who told me differently, I didn’t feel it.
One day, he came home from work and had a bad day, I had just had enough and by accident I rolled my eyes at his anger outburst. He grabbed hold of me and by the end of this time I had trauma to the front part of my head. My entire face was bruised so badly I looked as though I had been in a severe car accident. I was put onto steroids for 3 months and it took about that long for the bruising to go away. Two weeks after this, I called my mom and begged her to help me get Poy.
I will never forget that day, having no vehicle or independence, she had put money through the post office for me to pick up on that side. I had to take 3 public taxis to get to Johannesburg and from there a plane back to port Elizabeth. The relief that came over me once we were flying over and into the city, was a relief you would just never understand unless you had been through what I went through. I filed for divorce, got an interdict and it was all over, with my family’s support, something most don’t have or even crawl back to.
And this is the point in my story where my happy ending starts…I bumped into an old school friend in 2010, which formed into a beautiful relationship, although the first year was tough. I was totally broken, I refused to go anywhere in public, I felt I was doing the world a favour by not going anywhere. This man, who is now my husband, carried me, built me up again, helped me realise that I am not defined by my past, he led me to God again.
I now believe that I am not defined by my past but rather by what Jesus has done on the cross for me. I believe that I have suffered this trauma for a reason greater than me and I am not supposed to keep this journey to myself but rather to bring Glory to God for how he has carried me through all of this and kept me alive to tell my story.
In the past I would say, how could I ever do anything great, look at my past, what could I possibly bring? But now I can stand here saying, my past is my gifting. My calling is to help others. If we can use our pain to strengthen others, then our tears were not in vain, they count for something.
Last year, I decided to put myself out there a little bit, I wanted to get more involved in the community and so I entered Mrs Nelson Mandela Bay and I was crowned in a November last year. I was sent on another journey by God as the founder of this pageant strongly believes in empowering woman, well I was certainly empowered by this journey.
I wouldn’t even know where to start in explaining how much my self-confidence has increased and how worthy I feel as a Princess of God. Two lessons I have learnt in the past 6 months, is that I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God. The other is that I, Diane Johns, am royalty in His eyes!
I now currently work at Imfundo Educare in an impoverished community in Malabar ext 6, our goal is to eradicate poverty through education. After meeting these kids and being witness to the abuse and gangsterism they witness in a daily basis, I realised I want to help shape the minds of little ones to believe that there are better examples out there in the world and to be better examples. I am still on this journey of healing, I still have a long way to go but God loves us enough not to leave us the same! Every time I share with people, it gets easier and more healing comes. I am a survivor!