Dianna Knox Cooper tells her incredible life story in “Hated Without A Cause.” (Staff Photo: Laura Williams)
As humans, we gain inspiration and courage from many different things.
We might find hope in a conversation with a friend, a quote or speech, or the peacefulness of nature.
However, more often than not, the main place we find inspiration is in each other — from the powerful stories of our fellow man overcoming adversity, hardship and struggle.
Author Dianna Knox Cooper has such a story.
The Macon native visited Albany recently and spoke about her decision to finally share her testimony and the amazing blessings that she has experienced as a result.
“Hated Without A Cause” tells Cooper’s heart-wrenching testimony of mental, emotional and physical abuse she experienced for years as a child — the worst imaginable violation from a member of her own family.
“What happened to me was something that I kept secret for years, because I was ashamed,” Cooper said. “As the oldest child, I also felt that taking that abuse myself meant that my younger sisters would be spared the same fate.”
Coming to a decision to write a book about her experience was not something Cooper planned.
“Years later, a few months after my grandmother died, I sat down at a computer and began writing down my feelings about her passing,” Cooper recalls.
“She meant everything to me, and I remember being very surprised at the amount of vivid detail that was so ingrained in my memory — writing everything down was very cathartic for me.
“Shortly after that, I decided to write down what happened to me as a child — but this was for my eyes only. At this point, even my husband still didn’t know what I had gone through — I was still just so ashamed.”
Cooper worked on those writings off and on for 10 years until 2010, when the pastor prophetess at her church revealed to her that she needed to tell her story.
“She just knew,” Cooper recalled. “After I met her, she could just tell that I had gone through something horrible, and talking with her about everything helped me immensely.
“I know that God led me to her church — she picked up where my grandmother left off and mentored me. She told me, ‘You need to tell your story — there are others out there like you who need to hear it.’”
After that conversation, Cooper knew what she had to do.
“I knew I had to do it,” she recalled. “And I started feeling guilty for not doing it sooner. I wondered, ‘Who have I held up by not doing what I could have to help them?’ I definitely felt an urgency.”
So Cooper again began the process of writing her story — but with the new found knowledge that this time, others would see it as well.
“The first book was for me,” she said, “The second one was for others.”
But this second foray into writing did not come without anguish, fear and tears.
“I was still terrified,” Cooper admitted. “It’s never easy to put yourself out there in such an exposing way for everyone to see. Still, when the Lord tells you to do something — you do it. And obedience to Him is better than any hardships along the way.
“I just had to make myself not worry about what others — like my family members — were going to think. Each time I wrote, my constant prayer was that none of this would be about me, and that God would speak through me in whatever way He deemed best.
“And though it would have been very easy to feel bitterness or anger about what happened to me — about reliving it all over again — I didn’t,” Cooper said. “I feel like I’ve finally been able to let it go.”
After about two years, Cooper completed her book and it was published this past May.
Since its publication, she has received countless calls and emails from others who have had similar experiences — and have now found the courage to speak out as well.
“I got a call from a precious 13-year-old girl, and from a 75-year-old woman who had never told anyone what had happened to her, not in all these years,” Cooper said. “I don’t know what all of the people I have heard from have ultimately done, but many of them said, ‘Now I know what I need to do.’
“A woman called me one night and we stayed on the phone from 11 p.m. until 5 in the morning, just talking, praying and healing.
“All of the response has been confirmation for me that I did the right thing.”
Cooper admitted that she was nervous about telling her story, but said that what’s happened since has just been nothing short of amazing.
“God has really shown me that we are not alone — none of us. There have just been too many ‘coincidences’ for them to ever be considered anything but His hand at work.
“My editor, Phyllis M. Bridges, just happens to be from Leesburg,” Cooper continued. “I got a call from her when she was reviewing the book and she told me that she almost couldn’t get through it because it hit so close to home for her. However, she ended up asking me if she could write a special note for the book, and that’s a really unusual thing for an editor to do.”
In the note, Bridges writes: “I have to say it has been my extreme honor and pleasure to read your story. Through every twist and turn of your life’s journey, I went with you. So many times it wasn’t you anymore, but me I saw. … Just when you think ‘oh you don’t know what I’ve been through,’ God shows you that you’re not alone in your situation. … More than anything, you’ve shown me how to get free; truly free. For this I sincerely thank you.”
“I just cried when I read her words,” Cooper said. “She will never know how much that meant to me.”
Cooper’s family has also been supportive of her decision to tell her story.
“I was nervous about their reaction, but out of all of them, only one did not support me,” Cooper noted.
“But even so, I know that all of this has been for a purpose, and it has brought so much healing — for me, my sisters and people I’ve never even met.”
“You don’t truly realize how much your past can affect you,” Cooper said. “And trust me, if God can bring healing for me, He can do it for anyone. I used to be one very hurt, bitter woman — angry at the world.”
“Hated Without A Cause” is available on Amazon, by visiting hatedwithoutacause.weebly.com, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Information about the publication can also be found on a Facebook page of the same name.
So far, the book has made it way to at least 34 different states, Greece and even Kuwait.
“I don’t know exactly how it made it all the way out there,” Cooper laughed, “But I heard back from someone who had read it, thanking me for telling my story.
“While none of this has ever been easy, I know it was the right thing to do,” she continued. “If even one person is able to find help and healing, then it’s been worth it.”