A mother who claims her abusive ex-partner ran her over with his motorcycle, leaving her on life support and needing a below-the-knee amputation, and later sexually and physically assaulted her to the point where she believed “the relationship would end with (her) being dead”, has said she no longer feels afraid to speak out.
When Sam Jones, a 40-year-old store worker from Pennsylvania, USA – whose name has been changed to protect her identity, met her ex-partner, who is not being named for Sam’s safety after he previously breached a restraining order, she said he was “charming and wonderful”.
However, in the years that followed, she claims he started calling her names, such as “fat, ugly, wh***, crazy, stupid”, he punched and broke her nose, and in 2016 he hit her with his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in a “blind rage”, leaving her with a broken neck, back, eye sockets, jaw, and nose.
After Sam was discharged from hospital, she said she could not eat solid foods or walk and her weight dropped to 80lbs (5st 7lbs) at 5ft 3in tall, meaning she needed to be cared for.
She had seven surgeries on her right leg in two years before the decision was made to amputate the limb, which “destroyed” her, and she started drinking to numb the pain.
After her mother – who cared for her – passed away, she attempted to take her own life as she felt she had “nowhere to go”.
Sam said Protection from Abuse (PFA) orders were put in place during the relationship, but she “foolishly” forgave her ex-partner every time – until earlier this year when she claims he visited her home unannounced, repeatedly held her head underwater, “bashed” her head against the floor, and “viciously sexually assaulted” her.
Sam, who has three children from a previous relationship who she does not wish to be named, said a strict restraining order has since been put in place – and now, as she rebuilds her life, she wants to be an advocate for other domestic abuse survivors and amputees.
She loves the outdoors, enjoys going hiking, and spending time with her children, and she feels “empowered, excited, and happy being able to try new things as an amputee”, such as riding a bike – and despite the “nightmare” she has lived, her main mission now is showing others that “there’s a light at the end of everything”.
“Unfortunately, there are lots of people who don’t think it’s going to get better, and they stay with an abuser, and there are people who don’t make it out,” Sam told PA Real Life.
“There was a time when I tried to take my own life, and I’m not proud of that, I’m glad I survived, but that’s because I felt I had nowhere to go.
“They cut you down and make you a shell of yourself and, even now, I don’t know who I really am, but I’m figuring it out along the way.
“I just want to say, life gets better and even if you have to struggle when you get out, it’s better than being in that situation.”
Addressing the reason for not using her real name, Sam added: “I feel comfortable speaking out about this now, but even so, I don’t want to put me or my children at risk of any danger.”
When Sam met her ex-partner, she said they had an instant connection and they decided to move in together as they “couldn’t be apart”.
She was excited to see where the relationship would progress, however, after moving in, she said he started to call her names and the mental abuse gradually worsened over time.
“He used to call me fat and ugly all the time, he loved using the c-word, he called me a wh***, lazy, stupid – you name it, he called me it,” Sam said.
She claims name-calling led to physical abuse, where he punched and broke her nose – and although PFAs were subsequently put in place, she said he was “wonderful”, and she forgave him.
One day in 2016, approximately two years into the relationship, Sam said she caught her ex-partner cheating on her with another woman at an event.
She decided to leave and tried to call her mother, but she then heard a motorcycle approaching.
“He found me, and he was upset and embarrassed – I embarrassed him when I took off like that – and he was in a blind rage,” Sam explained.
“I started walking and I heard the motorcycle coming again and he hit me with it and my ankle got stuck in the motorcycle.
“I broke my neck, my back, both my eye sockets, my whole nose, my jaw, I had two skull fractures and three brain bleeds.
“I was on life support… and he just told everybody that we were run off the road.”
After being discharged from hospital, Sam said she was in “terrible pain”, and she could barely move or function due to the copious number of medications she was taking.
Given her weight had plummeted to 80lbs and she could not walk, her mother helped to care for her until she died in July 2016 – at which point Sam felt she could not escape.
After the amputation surgery, which felt “soul-crushing”, she said she was “scared to be alone as an amputee” and she started drinking heavily as a coping mechanism.
“I didn’t have my mother anymore, so I clung to him. I did everything to make him happy, so he loved me, but it’s never enough – I just became a shell of myself,” she explained.
Sam said her ex-partner would play mind games, telling her he loves her while “cutting (her) down”, but she knew she had to leave and later found a job, which she loved.
She tried to end the relationship multiple times over the years, and he eventually moved out, but she said he would always come back, saying: “I want to make it work”.
Earlier this year, Sam claims her ex-partner came over, unannounced, and he physically and sexually assaulted her over a period of several hours.
“He came over and I was taking a bath, and immediately he took my prosthetic leg, my car keys, and my phone, so I couldn’t walk,” Sam said.
“He started holding my head underwater over and over, telling me he was going to kill me… and all I thought was, ‘I’m never going to see my kids again’.
“He stopped doing that and he just started hitting my head on the floor. I couldn’t stand up and defend myself, I couldn’t get away.
“He viciously sexually assaulted me, I had bite marks everywhere, and then he stomped on my stomach so hard that he broke my ribs, and I couldn’t breathe, and at that moment, I thought that was it.
“I thought my kids were going to come home in the morning and find my body in the bed.”
Police were called and they arrested and charged her ex-partner with multiple offences, in a report seen by PA Real Life, but rather than going to prison he was offered a plea bargain.
Since then, despite feeling “crushed” by the outcome, Sam has focused on getting sober and being present for her children.
She loves hiking and trying new activities as an amputee, and while she still experiences “hurt, anger, pain, and sadness”, she feels lucky to be alive today.
Sam said speaking to and supporting other domestic abuse survivors and amputees has been life-changing, and now she wants to continue “healing out loud to help others”.
She wants to stress the importance of seeking help and having a good support network, and she hopes that, by sharing her story, others will see that life after heartbreaking challenges can be fulfilling.
“I lived a nightmare and I remember it vividly all the time, but I don’t want that life anymore. I know I deserve better,” Sam said.
“I had to sit with all that pain and feel it for all these years in order to heal, and it was one of the hardest things I ever did, but also one of the best things.
“Helping other people makes me happy, and it makes what I went through worth something rather than just devastation and loss.
“Even though I suffered for a long time, there’s a light at the end of everything. Don’t give up.”
Sam has set up an Instagram account to connect with and support other amputees. To find out more, search @amp_advice_encouragement_.
For domestic abuse support, contact Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.