TSSNT & Me: Sarah's Story
By: Sarah Mathes
On September 27, 2011 my marriage came to a violent end. Stanley and I had been married for six years, and our son, Seven, had just turned two. Stanley had beaten me many times, but never before like this. While holding Seven in my arms, Stanley punched the back of my head, making both of our heads slam into the wall. I dropped Seven to the floor, and he cowered in the corner as Stanley threw me onto the bed, straddled me, and punched me all over my upper body. I tried to fight him, but fearful that I would kick Seven, I gave up struggling and simply kept passing out and coming to again in time for another blow to the head. He finally stopped and left the room, I believed to get his rifle to finish the job. I had one mission: find my cell phone to call the police so they could find my dead body before my son had to crawl over it all day. I was dripping blood everywhere. My face was so swollen that I couldn’t get my glasses on to see the numbers on the phone, but I managed to dial 911.
The SWAT team arrived and took Seven and me out of the house. Stanley barricaded himself in the master bedroom with a 410 shotgun and told them he was going to suicide. I was Care-flighted to the hospital, and Seven remained sitting in a fire truck. Stanley kept his promise and took his own life, knowing that he would go to prison if he didn’t.
After being released from the hospital, I looked for help. The suicide support group I tried to join told me that the extenuating circumstances to my husband’s suicide were “too intense” for the other members of the group, and I made them uncomfortable. I was asked not to return.
Later, I was referred to Trauma support Services by a lady at a suicide survivor’s conference. At TSSNT, we met two amazing therapists who I consider angels. Janice was my counselor, and, even though Seven was a year younger than they usually take children, Darlene became his play therapist. Our healing process began.
Janice and Darlene saw us regularly for three years and as needed since then. When we started, I couldn’t even go to the grocery store without having a panic attack. Most days I didn’t even get out of bed to take a shower. Beyond therapy, Janice referred me to a cost-free clinic to obtain medication for my anxiety and depression. Eventually, she had me also see another TSSNT therapist for short-term sex therapy to help me understand and cope with lasting physical effects of having been molested as a young girl. All of these services were offered to us for no cost at all.
Today, I no longer have those haunting panic attacks. I no longer take medication for depression. I still get a little anxious sometimes, but who doesn’t?
The proudest moment in my journey so far was the day this spring when I mailed Janice an invitation to my college graduation from UT Arlington. Even though I was with my father a couple of weeks before he died of cancer eight days before graduation, the coping mechanisms and strength I had found in therapy helped me get my final papers in and finish my final semester with two A’s, a B, and a C.
Seven was the top reader for the entire second grade at his elementary school last year. He is excited to be starting third grade this year, and he is one of the happiest kids I know. We now call Janice and Darlene to report the good things in our lives. It is with great joy the we share how well we are doing instead of how much help we need. It is only because of the knowledge, love, and sincerity of these women that we are where we are today. They were surly sent by the good Lord just for us!
Thank you TSSNT for all that you have done for me and my son. We would not be where we are today if we hadn’t found you!