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Spencer woman is speaking out after surviving a life changing incident

Spencer woman is speaking out after surviving a life changing incident

Diana Zellaha never thought it could happen to her.

"Every time I walk through that door the memory comes back," she said. "It was December 5th, the early morning hours of December 5th."

The 52 year old and her husband had just celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary.

She was a nurse and worked the night shift, so she would sometimes have a difficult time sleeping at night.

"[I] happened to be awake that night, still, of December 5th, it was approximately 12:30, one o' clock in the morning," Zellaha said.

And at that point, she heard a knock at the door.

"So I answered the door," she recalled, "an individual was at the door and asked for my husband."

And she told him he was sleeping, when she turned to go wake him up, she says the person at the door put a rag over her mouth with the chemical Chloroform on it, essentially, making her incoherent.

She tells us that she was then taken out of her home, put into a van where another individual was inside and over the next several hours, she says she was beaten, electrocuted with a stun gun and raped.

"And at one point in time I just wanted to die, I thought it would be easier just to die," said Zellaha.

When the nightmare ended, Zellaha says she was dropped back off at her house, half naked, in below freezing temperatures on her garage floor.

"I am a mother, a grandmother, a wife, and my whole life has pretty much stopped," she said.

Even though she is a nurse by trade, she couldn't get herself to report the incident for 10 days, because she says she feared for her life, but then she realized how important it was to tell her story.

"I have to do something," Zellaha said. "I have to report this. It would have been easier to keep it a secret, like so many women do."

And now, in July, the investigation, according to the Clay County Attorney's office is still ongoing, as they await for results from evidence sent to the DCI laboratory in Des Moines.

So far, no one has been arrested in connection with Zellaha's incident.

"It's awful," Zellaha said. "I'm by myself, I live in fear every day, I can't even go out. They've terrified me."

She's speaking out now because she hopes that it will encourage people in her same shoes to get the courage to report these crimes sooner, because she feels more evidence would be available if they do.

"It would have been easier to have died, but there's got to be a reason that I survived it," she said. "Don't delay telling your story and I won't stop until I get justice."

Diana did save the clothes she was wearing that night the incident occurred.

That was part of the evidence sent to the lab down in Des Moines.

It's expected that the results from that evidence won't become available until most likely December or January.

Even though Diana is recommending to report as soon as possible, experts are saying it all depends on the person, meaning it's not something everyone needs to do if they don't feel comfortable doing it.

The representatives from the Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault, CAASA, say one of the things a person can do after something like that happens, is go to the hospital and get a sexual assault kit done within 72 hours of the incident.

That way, if you choose to report, it doesn't matter what time you do it, because there will be evidence gathered within that time frame.

"Not only do you collect evidence if you choose to report it in the future," said Jamie Thompson, director of victim services with CAASA, "but you're also going to get prophylactic medications to help you against sexually transmitted diseases and they can offer you Plan B, if that's something you want to partake in to avoid an unwanted pregnancy and they can also get you medically cleared as well."

And places like CAASA, which has offices throughout Siouxland, will always be there to help anyone who needs it.

"Society isn't always believing victims, it's a very victim blaming society out there. So we are the ones who believe them no matter what," Jacquie Kehoe, executive director at CAASA, said.

There are several programs that CAASA can recommend people who have survived these incidences, but they say supporting a survivor is one of the best things any person can do.

CAASA also has a 24-hour helpline that is available seven days a week.

If you need any help, please call 1-877-362-4612 or visit their website.



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