No Hope? Know Hope.
“Mom, would you be upset if you found out Sandusky was innocent?”
Shannon Dietz’s son asked her this question as they were watching the Today show earlier this week. They were playing a part of Sandusky’s ‘statement’ that he recorded from prison stating:
“They could take away my life, they could make me out as a monster, they could treat me as a monster, but they can’t take away my heart. In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts.”
Dietz, a rape survivor, said, “I realized that my son, as innocent and naive as he is, listened to this man’s words and thought ‘He sounds sincere, like he really didn’t do this and what if he is really innocent?’ and that scares me. It scares me because I know first-hand how ‘innocent’ the accused can make themselves to be.”
Shannon Deitz is founder and president of Hopeful Hearts Ministry, a non-profit that helps abuse and rape victims. At the fragile age of seventeen, she was raped and began to distrust a God who would allow such a thing. Again, as a freshman in college, she was raped a second time, and she began to earnestly put as much distance between herself and God as she possibly could.
At the age of 27, having run from God as far as she could go, Shannon found herself at the bottom of a life that was no longer tolerable. Having no place to go but up, she looked to Heaven. Deitz felt a distinct calling to begin teaching the teens at her local church. Not only did this give her an opportunity to share her own struggles as a teen and tell others how God changed her personal tragedy into triumph, but it also allowed her to look beyond the traditions to more deeply explore the intricacies of her Catholic faith.
Her story is told in Exposed: Inexcusable Me…Irreplaceable Him (Believers Press) offering encouragement and hope to both teens and adults suffering from physical and emotional abuse. In 2011, she stepped away from her parish ministry to start Hopeful Hearts Ministry and to have more time for speaking engagements and to work on writing projects.
Monday, Sandusky was convicted of his crime and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Eight victims bravely came forward to tell their story that proved his guilt.
Dietz states, “What upsets me about this whole situation, and truthfully that of all of the alleged sex crimes is the lack of remorse, regret or sincere apology from the convicted. While I hand the ultimate judgment and sentence over to God, I also know that genuine repentance is the key to receiving forgiveness. I have spoken at prisons and witnessed the sincerity of a soul that has stripped themself of pride in order to receive the fullness of God’s love and compassion and work towards reparation.”
Deitz has been a ‘featured columnist’ on CatholicLane.com. She and her husband, Neal, live in Kingwood, Texas, where they are active in their local church and community. The couple has two sons, Ryan and Seth, who provide them with endless joy and reason to continually count their blessings.
– Shannon Deitz
Shannon is available for interviews. Review copies of her book are also available.