The last thing Bree Ridge-Coulson expected was to be punched to the face when at the shops in the middle of Wodonga.
She was left with a fat lip and a bruised face after she was assaulted by a man when they got into an argument outside of Coles.
Even after the physical injuries healed, Bree has been left worried he might return to hurt her again, and angry that a man can still assault a woman in public and not go to jail.
Mark Costa, 49, was this month placed on an 18-month community corrections order after he was convicted in Wodonga Magistrates Court.
It took 13 months following the July 2017 incident and multiple adjournments in court before the case was finalised; what Bree calls “13 months of hell” waiting for justice.
She and Costa knew each other through his partner and did not get along.
“I just walked out of Coles, yeah I might have stuck my finger up at him,” Bree told The Border Mail.
“For me to be spat on, punched to the point where my teeth will never be the same … I was thinking ‘oh my god, I am going to get the hand that has knuckle dusters on or am I just going to get the hand that doesn’t have them?’.
“Luckily I got the hand that didn’t.”
She accepts she has her own history with drugs and troubles with the police, but not that it meant she deserved to be physically assaulted.
“He put me through the ringer physically,” she said.
“He has to pay for what he’s done.
“It’s 2018, it’s not the 1900s where ladies are getting bashed on the street for because they’re whores.”
Moving on has been a challenge.
A victims of crime group helped Bree install security cameras at her Wodonga home, giving her the peace of mind that anyone who approaches the house will be recorded.
But she still worries he will defy warnings made in court and breach an intervention order.
“Sometimes I sit here and I don’t want to sleep because I think he’s going to come into my head,” she said.
“I was going to leave town, but I’m not going to leave because of him.”
Bree has now restarted her equine studies through TAFE and says she will not put up with anyone assaulting her.
She hopes no one else becomes a victim at the hands of Costa.
“Don’t put up with getting bullied by anyone,” she said.
“Everyone’s got a place in this world.
“Yeah I might have a bit of a big mouth, I might opinionate myself a bit much, but that doesn’t qualify him to hit me down the main street.”
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