On March 8, International Women’s Day, we honored the strength and resiliency of Dianna and her service dog Decker. As a recent graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, Dianna joined the Army to gain experience as a military police officer. After passing the final physical test, her superior officer called her into his office. He closed the door, threw her on top of his desk and sexually assaulted her. He then threatened her if she told anyone about the assault. Dianna refused to be quiet, reported the assault and continued to serve her country.
The trauma she experienced has resulted in years of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Dianna, now a disabled veteran, has had several spinal and cervical fusions, making it difficult to walk without assistance. That’s where Decker came in.
When a family member suggested she look into Freedom Service Dogs, Dianna immediately submitted an application. After several months of waiting, she received news that a big, handsome, chocolate Labrador named Decker would soon be her new partner. Sponsored by the Eric and Jessie Decker Foundation, Decker (aptly named) was ready to go to work.
In June of 2014, Dianna and Decker graduated from Freedom Service Dogs. There was an instant bond between them that continues to grow stronger. Dianna and Decker are constant companions. Decker is invited to all family gatherings and is especially fond of babies. He helps with tasks around the house such as removing laundry from the dryer, but one of his favorite things to do is take Dianna’s socks off. In Dianna’s words, “Decker has opened my world for me. I used to be afraid to leave my house because of all the people I would come into contact with, but Decker protects my space and makes me feel safe. He keeps me balanced while walking so I don’t have to use my walker or four-wheeled cart. Each night, I look Decker in the eyes and explain how thankful I am for him. This generally leads to tears, and when that happens, he takes his paw and gently places it over my hand.”
“I don’t mind speaking up because there are many women who don’t know what to do when they are assaulted. Many women stay silent and never get over it. These are the women I want to help by giving them a voice,” says Dianna.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, visit safehelpline.org/how-to-get-help.cfm or call 877-995-5247.