“She is extremely driven,” said her friend Nicole Brener-Schmitz, a political strategist who is working with Ms. Hill on her PAC.
From the time she was 12, Ms. Hill said, she worked multiple jobs: at a horse ranch, babysitting, as a dog groomer, saving up to buy a horse. She grew up in Rosamond, Calif., on the border of Los Angeles County, and then Santa Clarita, near Six Flags, shuttling between her divorced parents.
She graduated from high school a year early, and met Mr. Heslep shortly after, when she was 16 and he was 21. By 23, she had graduated from college, was married and working full-time at a nonprofit, People Assisting the Homeless. By 27, she had earned a master’s degree and been promoted to executive director of the nonprofit.
“And then I went straight to running for Congress,” she said.
Looking back, Ms. Hill said, there were warning signs of what was to come of her marriage: She writes in her book that her husband was “unpredictable” and “incredibly controlling.” Her sister described trying to intervene seven years ago, and it exploding into a fight. “We didn’t talk for a while,” her sister said.
As she campaigned, “I pretended everything at home was fine and I looked like a successful candidate about to win an election and make history,” Ms. Hill writes. “But my life was held together by a thread.”
These last two months, at home in Washington, have been the longest period of uninterrupted time Ms. Hill can remember without a deadline, a campaign, a school assignment or a job. “This is the most sleep I’ve gotten maybe in my whole life,” she said.