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The 700 Club

Inner Turmoil Healed by the Love of God

Brigette Rock - 700 Club Producer

“I knew it was wrong, and I felt like if I told anybody I would get in big trouble.” Dana Vasquez was 6 when financial troubles forced her parents to move from the suburbs, to a drug-infested neighborhood in Stockton, California.

They were often too busy for their only child. “I felt invisible. My dad was always working so he was never home. I didn’t really know him. And my mom was at church all the time. So when I was out in the neighborhood, I was kind of defenseless.”

What was going on was Dana was often left on her own, making her an easy target for the other kids in the neighborhood. “It was either I was getting molested or I was getting beat up and robbed for my stuff. I felt helpless. Powerless, like there’s no one there to protect me, like I wasn’t worth protecting.” Dana would endure the abuse for five years until her family moved to a better neighborhood.

Although she attended church with her mom, the now 11-year-old, was too ashamed to tell anyone - not even God. Dana recalled, “I think with the sexual abuse, it was like this dark corner of a closet in my mind, kind of like I’m not even going to talk to God about this because I know how bad it is.”

Despite the move, life didn’t get much easier for Dana. At school she was still bullied, by one girl in particular. One day she couldn’t take the humiliation and pain anymore. “There she was with a whole group of people waiting to fight me and I lost it. I beat her up to the point where she was crying out for help. When I realized I could protect myself, I was all in with that. I invested into that whole gangster girl mentality. It felt powerful, it felt like wow, that’s who I’m going to be,” said Dana.

In 8th grade, the following year, Dana was expelled for fighting. The next five years, she hung out in the streets with other dropouts and gang members, drinking and getting high. “It made me feel like I had a family that loved me. There’s this twisted loyalty out there where if you protect me, I’ll protect you and I really thrived in that,” Dana said.

By 18, Dana had fallen in love with a man who ran with a gang. Even though it was a violent and volatile relationship, she was desperate for the attention. “I wanted someone to love me, but I was never the girl that got picked. So, when he picked me, I felt really special, like, 'Look at this gangster guy. He wants to spend time with me and he’s interested in me.' I felt wanted for the first time,” recalled Dana.

Despite her new found self-worth, Dana sank deeper into addiction. “I started doing meth, which really increased the violence in my life. It helped me forget. I hated being sober,” said Dana. Then at 19, she got pregnant. Hopeful a baby would give her a chance at a normal life with her boyfriend, Dana was devastated when he wasn’t ready to settle down. 

Then her baby was born, and for a while Dana found a renewed sense of purpose and hope. “When I first saw my son and his little eyes looked up at me, it was just like, 'Wow!' In the beginning it was like, 'I got this! This is going to be okay,'" said Dana. Before long, though, she couldn’t resist the lifestyle and pain she’d hoped to leave behind. “Ever since I had my son I wanted something different, but I was selfish and I wanted to keep numbing myself,” Dana recalled. For the next 6 years, Dana indulged herself in the street life - fighting and abusing drugs… while her parents raised her son. 

Then, in 2006 at 26-years-old, she started to realize how empty her life was. She’d been hopping from one party-house to another, looking for drugs. While she didn’t find any, she did see something else. “Every time they answered the door, I could see in them the same hopeless look, the same depression, and the same despair that I was walking in. There was misery everywhere I went,” she said.

On the bus ride home, Dana had a tearful conversation... “I was like, 'Lord, I don’t know how to be a good mom. I don’t know how to be a good anything. I don’t know how to quench all this stuff going on inside of me and if you can change me, please help me, and if not, I just want to die,” Dana said.

She goes on to recall that moment. “I gave everything to God. All the despair, guilt, anger, everything I have felt and been quenching with drugs, partying, and fighting. It was in that moment He took all that away and I was left there with myself and it overwhelmed me to the point where it was, 'Oh, my gosh. I need God, I can’t do this anymore!'”

Dana said in the coming few months God took away her desire for drugs and violence as she found forgiveness and unconditional love through Christ. “Knowing I’m loved by God changes the places I go. It changes the decisions I make. Because I know I’m loved, I want to love Him back and I want to please Him. So that changes my whole life because I know I’m God’s,” Dana said with joy.

Dana eventually took over raising her son and they grew close over the years. She also met and married Anthony. She said of all the things God has done for her: one stands out. “Because God loves me, everything that was ugly and rotten inside of me is gone. He makes me worthy because He’s beautiful, He’s lovely. Because He is that, he makes me the same thing because He’s in me.”
 

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