Content Warning: This article will discuss a specific person’s experiences with domestic violence. Please read with care.
She was 15. He was 25. She always felt like she had to walk on eggshells when she was around him. From what she wore to the way she chewed gum, he wanted to be in control of everything she did because if she tried to leave him then he would threaten that he would kill himself. After the relationship had ended, Samantha kept to herself and never let herself be vulnerable with anyone. Every guy she dated, she kept at a distance and didn’t go out of her way to make friends.
They say the healing process gets easier as life goes on, but healing looks differently for everyone. Some of us cry, some of us yell in rage, and some of us run to free ourselves from the painful memories of our once-present, everyday lives. This is the story of Samantha Hurst, a domestic violence survivor and an advocate against domestic violence.
Her story starts in Southern Indiana where she went to high school and discovered her passion for law. Senior year, Samantha shadowed at the prosecutor’s office in Posey County where she met Travis Clowers, the newly elected prosecutor.
The thought of being a prosecutor wasn’t something she saw herself doing in the near future, but she remembers looking up to Travis Clowers because of the energetic manner he tackled issues.
After graduating from high school, she went on to study at Kaskaskia and was on their women’s soccer team until she damaged the nerves in her foot. Samantha decided to finish her post-secondary education at the University of Southern on a Pre-Law track.
On October 11th, Samantha was admitted to the emergency room where she came in with a concussion, whiplash, and several bruises caused by her college boyfriend. During her time in the ER, police officers were called in to investigate what happened to her to which she did her best to answer, despite the state she was in. She didn’t expect to hear, “We will deal with it next time when it is worse” from the police officer on duty after her father asked them if her boyfriend was going to get arrested.
Those words may have been just words for the police officer, but for Samantha, they struck her to her core and made her question if what had happened wasn’t all that bad.
Following the events of that night, her boyfriend persisted and would not leave her alone for the next year and a half. From holding her responsible for his engagement being broken off and failed relationships to showing up uninvited wherever she was as a way to rekindle their relationship. There were many occasions when he would come to harass her at her place of work, to the point where he was kicked out of the restaurant she was waiting tables at. That day, Samantha was escorted to her car by security, but soon found out he had stolen her belongings and destroyed the inside of her car with tanning lotion. Only a report was made, and the officers never went to check to confirm he had stolen her belongings. There was another occurrence where he showed up where she lived and waited for her in the alley where she came home from work. Unfortunately, the threats and stalking didn’t stop there.
After she left for Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, she got involved with the Protective Order Project, and she decided to file a protective order against him. There was retaliation on his part, but the protective order was granted, which meant he was ordered to stay away from her residence, work, and school. Even with this protective order in place, he came to her place of employment. He was escorted out of the restaurant, but no charges were filed.
That summer, after her first year of law school, she came back to the Posey County Prosecutor’s Office where she continued to learn from Travis Clowers.
With everything she had faced, she came to appreciate how Travis would handle domestic violence cases and decided she would work towards becoming a prosecutor.
Second year of law school came rolling in and she got an internship with Posey’s County Prosecutor’s office where she would intern until graduation. Throughout her internship, she became a certified legal intern where she remembers feeling terrified about handling a traffic infraction.
She was later hired by the Warrick County Prosecutor’s Office as their legal intern where she would await her bar exam results – waiting to know if she could become a prosecutor. Excited to have passed the bar exam, she looked towards her next chapter: becoming a prosecutor and helping people who were going through a similar situation.
Samantha had always thought about enlisting in the Marine Corps but decided to take advantage of her scholarship to go play soccer with her long-time friend. During her time at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, she met a Judge Advocate which instilled the idea of her potential to become one, too. For a moment, she considered active duty after law school, but a job offer came along. Once she started working as a prosecutor, she decided this would be the time to complete a lifelong goal.
For the next four months, she would be on her journey to being a Judge Advocate in the National Guard.
Samantha began to rebuild her life piece by piece and started healing when she started working with domestic violence cases on a regular basis which gave her the courage to confront what had happened to her. She became the person for survivors that she had wished she had had when she was 21 and now reminds them that they are not alone. As her healing journey continues, she has rekindled her love for running marathons and coaching soccer. During her free time, she also coaches cross country and surrounds herself with uplifting, good people.
Her story serves as a reminder that if you are in a similar situation as Samantha was in then, you are not stuck and with the help of a support system, you can get out.
For the longest time, Samantha was told to move on, but eventually, she realized she had to face what had happened to her to start her healing journey.
Running was an escape where she could let go and feel on how far she had come along. Samantha hopes one day she’ll be able to run a marathon in every state with her cousin and travel around the country. Samantha continues to train and loves going on 5 a.m. runs with her cousin, where the world comes to life as their feet hit the pavement.
Interview with Samantha Hurst and article written by Claudia Gil Matias. Photography courtesy of Samantha Hurst.