Unsung Heroes: Diana Patricia Solís

My name is Diana Patricia Solís. I’m from a small town called Guacarí in the Valle del Cauca department of Colombia.

In 1995, I became a victim of sexual violence

I was attacked by a group of several FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) men who live in the valley.

It is very difficult to talk about this because of how you feel after. You feel dirty. Rape makes you feel bad. It’s horrible. Your whole world crumbles. They kept me up in in the mountains for two days and did all sorts to me. I couldn’t defend myself. As a result of the attack, I also contracted a sexually transmitted infection.

I couldn’t say anything because I was afraid of the consequences for my family. I was working for a family in Cali back then and I just told my boss because I was out shopping for breakfast when they took me away. I told my boss because he saw the state I was in when they let me go. I never told my family or my friends.

 

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Doctors of the World really helped me. They taught me to be strong, and now I can talk about the attack in a calmer way. At first, I couldn’t bear speaking about it and would burst into tears. The trainings I completed with staff members such as Sandrita and Marta helped me to understand that it wasn’t my fault and that I was not to blame. I never asked for this to happen.

As I was trying to move on with my life with my sons, I became displaced.

When my eldest son was 20, FARC wanted him to join them but he did not want to go. I wouldn’t have let him either. A close friend told me that my son was going to be killed for turning them down and that we had to get out of there.

That night, when my friend went to work, they killed him. They hung a sign around his neck, calling him a rat because they had found out what he had told me. The next morning, two hooded men on a motorbike stopped me and threatened me. They gave me and my family 24 hours to leave or there would be consequences.

“I want to move forward with my life and to help train other women who have suffered the same difficulties and try to guide them in the right direction.”

We left with a police escort to a rural area called Sonso

When we arrived in the town, we didn’t know anyone. We were cold, hungry, and desperate. Each one of us had a small bag over our shoulder with a few clothes inside. A woman who could tell that we were displaced helped us out because she had experienced the same thing.

I got a job in a little restaurant, but we continued to struggle financially. I met a man who I thought would help me through this difficult time. It was the worst mistake I ever made. He turned out to be violent and irresponsible. It was awful, I didn’t know how to cope with what was happening.

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I used to think I deserved everything that happened to me. I suffered in silence and did not tell anyone. I felt ashamed until I joined the Doctors of the World training here in Guaviare. A psychologist asked me why I had never reported the assault and told me that I could report it and receive psychological support. With Doctors of the World, I learned that I did not deserve any abuse.

I want to move forward with my life and to help train other women who have suffered the same difficulties and try to guide them in the right direction. I want to show them that we should not let anyone abuse us physically or verbally. No man should do that. Nothing justifies it. I want to focus on these women and to equip them with the tools to help them move forward.

I would also really like to start a business, but that’s further down the line. For now, I want to focus on helping women like me.