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The Relationship That Healed Her

“There was always police officers involved in our family. There was always shootings, domestic violence issues.”

Violence and chaos ruled in Sarah Armijo’s home. Too often as a little girl, she watched her dad, and eventually her stepdad, both drug addicts, abuse her mother.

Sarah remembers how scared she was, “He would always hit her, and he called her names. He'd grab her by her hair. One time...I just remember my mom screaming and crying and I got up to go look to see what was going on, and he was choking her in the corner, and he choked her until she passed out.”

But her mom wasn’t the only victim. “I had gotten molested already by the time I was six by several people, different people. So I was always afraid of getting hurt. I was afraid of everything and everybody.”

On top of the fear, was the pain of rejection from those in her life, including her mom.

“My mom used to always tell me she wished she would have aborted me when she had the chance to.”

Looking to escape the chaos and pain, Sarah tried to kill herself twice by the time she was 18. Her first attempt was in third grade. “I just didn't like myself at all. Like I couldn't even look in the mirror because I just felt so just ugly and not wanted. I just felt worthless.”

So, it was easy for her to fall for a man she met when she was 16. An ex-con and recovering addict, he was kind and affectionate and, for a while, Sarah felt safe and loved…but after she got pregnant and moved in with him, he relapsed.

“He started being very abusive. He raped me. He would choke me. He would just knock me down to–where I was nothing.” Sarah sadly states, “He would tell me to look in the mirror and he'd point out everything that was wrong about me, and he told me that nobody will ever like me.”

The feelings of worthlessness and pain resurfacing, Sarah looked for another escape. This time, through drugs and alcohol that would lead to an addiction to crack. “I just wanted to numb the pain...I was just so tired of feeling pain.”

Sarah would fall even deeper into addiction after her boyfriend–hallucinating on drugs–cut himself jumping through a window and died. But soon she married another abusive man–also and addict–married and had a second child. One day Sarah started hallucinating and became violent in what appeared to be a psychotic breakdown, requiring first responders to be called to intervene.

“I just remember somebody grabbing me like this (IMITATES AGGRESSIVE GRABBING), and I turned around and I looked, and I'm telling you this wasn't a person, this was a demon. And it was a demon's face. I-I lost my mind, I guess you could say,” states Sarah.

She was taken to a psychiatric facility where she began the painful process of drug withdrawal. During that time, doctors diagnosed her with PTSD, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder. “It was just pure hell. You know, I'm scared, I don't know what's going on...I was seeing demons, I was seeing a lot of things.”

In her desperation, she remembered what she’d heard in her childhood. A word of hope and light in her otherwise very dark existence.

With a small smile she reflects, “My Grandma used to pray. She'd read her Bible to us. She would teach us about the Lord. She would take us to church. I knew from what she taught me about calling out to God, He's the only one I had. And I had a Bible there, so I was crying, and I was pleading with God to help me.”

After her release from the hospital, Sarah was given two years’ probation and mandated to attend numerous mental health programs—none of which worked. Now divorced and raising two children alone, Sarah reached out to God again. But she still believed a husband would fill her need to be loved.

"Okay, Lord, this is it”, says Sarah, “If I ever get married again, you pick him, you choose him for me because I am so bad at picking, and I just need your help. I need your guidance, and I don't want to be alone, I want to be married."

It wasn’t long before Sarah met Rick, a Christian. They married and she also swore off drugs. But in time, she began to realize she needed more than a husband to erase the pain of the past.

“I didn't want to feel the pain of the truth, you know, that was going on within me,” says Sarah. “I was just tired of my old ways, the old ways of thinking, the old ways of doing things, you know.”

That day would come at a counseling program at her church. “I finally started saying, 'Alright, Lord, I surrender. I'm surrendering. I need your help. I need your strength. I can't do this by myself...I need to let go of the past. I need to let go of the old me.'"

Sarah says through her faith in Christ, she found forgiveness and the years of pain and drug abuse fell away–healed by God’s love and grace. Today, she serves as a lead counselor at her church and is studying to become an advocate for survivors of domestic violence.

With a content smile she says, “Jesus is all we need...drugs, partying, all that stuff in the world doesn't matter. Because it doesn't fulfill you. The only true one that fulfills you and helps you and loves you, truly loves you, is Jesus.”

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