To back up a little bit – this was a 20-year marriage. We met when we were 19 and in college. There was never violence before this. He was a yeller and a screamer, but never physically violent with me. It was, as you said, “This is it, I’m done, I’m out,” that this rage came up. I was shocked, terrified and surprised – everything like that. I quickly realized: I’ve seen this rage, and it’s going to be deadly. At that point, I really started to get my ducks in a row, because what most people don’t understand when something like this happens is if it’s a first offense, generally speaking, if the police come, that person is coming back to your house that evening or maybe the next morning. When you’re in a situation like this, it’s important to make plans. You need to have money, resources, kids’ birth certificates and social security cards. I have a son who has a lung disease called cystic fibrosis, so I needed to make sure that I had all 15 of his medications stashed somewhere. There is planning that goes into it. Obviously, if you’re in danger of being severely hurt, you need to call the police, but you need to make some plans ideally before that happens.
PHYLLIS SMITH: Let me ask you, Kathy, you didn’t leave after that experience. You waited and got your plans together before you left him, so that you knew you’d be gone and that he wouldn’t be coming back.
KATHY COSTAS: It wasn’t a long amount of time. It was a matter of days. At that point, the other thing he would do is take my car keys, my cell phone and park his car behind my car in the driveway. He literally would trap me there so there was no walking out. I didn’t want to leave my children and walk out, and yet I knew a first offense, if I called the police, he would be back. So, that was my spring-to-action plan in that moment.
Do all those things – get money; get a credit card in my name to get things out of my household so that when it was time to go and I had that opportunity, we would be ready. In this situation, you feel trapped, but there’s also that fear of, “I don’t know where my next foot is going to go.” If I leave this situation, yes, this is a terrible situation and I need to get out, but I don’t know where I’m going to land.
You start making those plans and figuring those things out as best you can, and that’s part of what gives you the courage to get out, to make that big leap and take that big step.
if you’re in danger of being severely hurt, you need to call the police, but you need to make some plans ideally before that happens.