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Finance major kicked out of house at 16, starts anew at UNT

Finance major kicked out of house at 16, starts anew at UNT

Finance major kicked out of house at 16, starts anew at UNT
October 03
00:31 2016

The day she was kicked out of her house she remembered feeling like her heart was broken.

Samantha Stephenson, a 20-year-old senior finance major, grew up in a conservative christian family.  As she got older, her family started having issues. At 13, her parents divorced and two years later her dad remarried. A year into their marriage, Stephenson’s new step-mom decided she reminded her too much of her husband’s previous wife.

“It was totally unknown to me,” Stephenson said. “I thought she liked me fine.”

At age 16, her dad told her she had to move out; It was either her or her step-mom.

“He was really the first person to break my heart,” she said. “I felt betrayed and bewildered. It hit me like a whirlwind ya know. I was really alone.”

Stephenson is 20 now. She smiles as she talks about her life, even the hardships she’s gone through. She takes work, school and her faith very seriously. She has the air of a winner, someone who has fought through life and risen victorious.

Perseverant college student

Her day begins quickly, having just slept five hours the night before. She wakes up for work, then works out, goes to class, studies and repeats it all over again the next day. It’s something she’s used to, working full-time and going to school. But it wasn’t always that easy. 

After she was kicked out, Samantha tried to stay with her mom, but she was an alcoholic and had drugs coming in and out of the house. Her mother was also living with someone who was abusive on-and-off for years.

“They would get in really abusive fight,” Stephenson said. “He would threaten me and wanted to hurt me. That was just way too much to deal with. So I wasn’t safe there.”

The next few years after being kicked out were spent tirelessly working, moving from house to house and staying with friends. Samantha had to get a part-time job to support herself and started working more and more hours eventually dropping out of school to continue working.

But she heard of a charter school that allowed people to finish school at their own pace.

“It’s mainly a place for kids who get pregnant, go to juvie or have attendance issues,” Stephenson said. “I transferred there and did like two years of high school in two months and graduated early.”

At this point, she was working full-time and moved into an apartment with her sister.

Love as refuge

Thrust into the world, Stephenson tried to get help from her family.  Following her high school graduation, she moved to Austin where she lived rent-free at her aunt and uncle’s house while she went to a community college.  

One day, they needed some work done on the house and Stephenson came home from class when a guy named David and his dad were working there as contractors.  Stephenson never talked to David, but her aunt mentioned to him that she was single without her knowing, and a few weeks later, he randomly showed up at their doorstep asking if he could talk to her.

“He was five years older than me. I was completely taken by him, completely mesmerized and my whole life started to revolve around him,” Stephenson said. “As our family fell apart so did our faith. I guess I kind of clung to that guy and he was my whole world.”

She lived with him for two years.

Most of her friends were not okay with her new relationship or where it was headed. They tried to warn her about the controlling nature of the relationship. When she moved to California with him, he got violent and abusive.

“I actually didn’t go to school for about a year because of him because it would have gotten in the way of things we were doing. I was actually supporting him because he, for some reason, couldn’t hold down a job,” Stephenson said. “And his family had a lot of issues and was very violent within themselves. I tried to leave twice. Each time I tried to leave he wouldn’t let me, and I would just kind of chicken out and say never mind, it’s okay. I was like a girl who cried wolf.”

When she would attempt to leave him, his mood would change from violent to kind-hearted and apologetic. Despite this, eventually she found the will to leave him. And eventually her brother Barron flew to California to pick her up and take her back to Dallas.

More family issues

But her family issues didn’t escape her. 

After having various issues with roommates, she was desperate.  Despite knowing her brother Perry, who lives in Denton with his fiancé and newborn son, he was unstable. She tried to move in with him because she had never personally had any problems with him. But he had been arrested twice in the last couple years for sexual assault and attacks on women. He even tried to hurt his brother’s wife, she said. 

Everything seemed fine at first, and his fiancé and Stephenson were getting along well.  One night, Perry started sending messages to Stephenson’s mom threatening her safety.

“He had made up problems in his head but when I had tried to talk to him he acted like everything was completely fine and started blaming my mom,” Stephenson said. “It was really strange and creepy, but he kept saying things to my mom and it caused them to start arguing. He went off on her and some of my siblings in a really horrible way and said some very messed up and sick things.”

After this episode, Stephenson no longer felt safe there. She moved out and Perry blocked her from his phone and kept her from ever seeing her nephew again.

“That definitely caused some major issues,” Stephenson said. “People taking sides. It’s hard to find a place where I can feel safe with my family.”

A new start

The next year was the most difficult time of her life. She continued to talk to her ex-boyfriend for a while after the breakup and he started to harass her. It took time to completely cut off the relationship.

“An abusive relationship is a really confusing thing,” Stephenson said. “To love someone who’s that hurtful. I was a wreck every day and night. I couldn’t sleep or eat I missed him so much. But then he would harass me and I would remember how much of a monster he was, but that only made it worse. I felt like the guy I loved had died and now I was alone and mourning his death. No joke.”

She came back to Denton in August to return to school.

“My end goal right now is to be graduated,” she said. “To not have to struggle like this anymore. To be able to have time for my friends and family. To be able to help out with my two nieces. I just wanna go where God takes me.”

About Author

Jonathan Lichtenwalter

Jonathan Lichtenwalter

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