“We came down here because today is our 5th anniversary of getting to celebrate being alive,” Kate Provencher began. Five years ago, at the exact time of their conversation in our New York City StoryBooth, Kate, a mental health therapist, and her friend and former-coworker Lynda Rose, a clinical director, were at the door of a client’s apartment during what they thought would be a routine home visit. They were assigned to visit the client together “because he was having so much trouble maintaining stability,” Kate explained. After ringing his doorbell and knocking numerous times without response, they knew that something wasn’t right.
Lynda Rose (left) and Kate Provencher at our New York City StoryBooth.
“Then we heard a ruckus,” Lynda recalled. Kate feared the noise might be the client opening his window to jump (they were on the 4th story). So Lynda looked out the fire escape to investigate. When she turned back around, the client’s door was open and he was punching Kate. Lynda grabbed her cell and dialed 9-1-1, but the operator could hardly hear her due to bad reception. So she “went into autopilot” and ran toward him in an attempt to force him off. That’s when Kate yelled, “Please be careful. He has something sharp and Iâve been stabbed.”
Lynda tried to pull the client away, but he threw her against a wall. She fell to the floor and looked up into his eyes. “When I saw what I saw in his face, the thought that went through my head was, ‘Oh my god. We’re not making it out of here. We are going to die and nobody is going to find us.’ But then I realized I had on my boots, and he couldn’t slice through those. That’s when I started kicking him in the knee. That’s when you started to remove the scissors from his hand.” And that’s when Kate told Lynda, “I think we can take him down.”
“Ok, let’s do it,” Lynda said. “We’ve got one shot. We’ve got one shot, because if we miss, we’re done.” Kate straddled the client and held down his arms; Lynda put her knee on his ribcage and her foot on his throat. Meanwhile, Kate was bleeding profusely. In that moment, Lynda was faced with a crucial decision:
I didn’t know how long it would be before you were going to pass out, and it didn’t look like anybody was ever going to come. So, as I was sitting there, looking at the blood you were losing, [I knew that] if you were to pass out, to make sure that we get out of there, I was going to step on his throat and watch him die. Prior to that, I never thought I would have the capacity to kill. And that that capacity was there very quickly, very readily, that’s frightening to me. But throughout the whole thing, I remembered my son’s face as he was getting on the bus to go to kindergarten. There was a piece of that sitting there, that my son needs me. And I need to do what I need to do to make sure that we get out of there.
Fortunately, Lynda never had to take that action. The police arrived just in time. They had been searching door to door in response to her call to 9-1-1. That’s when the client stood up from the floor to reveal a dinner knife beneath him. “He’d wanted us up so he could finish us off,” Lynda said. Kate was rushed to the emergency room where she made full recovery. But she attributes her survival on that day to Lynda:
I still think about how hard it is for you to have to live with that moment. So one of the things I really wanted to make sure to tell you today was how much of a heroine you are. We go places together and I introduce you to people and I say, ‘This is the woman who saved my life.’ Because we both know he didn’t stop on his own and he had no intention of stopping on his own. In that situation, people freeze, they run away, they save themselves. And you ran back. You ran back to help me. And that is what makes you a heroine to me.
“Of course I would’ve,” Lynda responded. “Of course I would’ve.”