I watched this guy in the room. He was big and intimidating, and I knew what his game was. I watched as he tried to get the female attorneys to step out in the hall with him, and they all looked uncomfortable. I watched as he politely spoke to the men. It's a messy case, with lots of attorneys.
"I need to have a word with you." He's staring at me. Most of the attorneys have run to grab coffee or water on the break. He heads towards the door of the hallway, assuming I will follow. I remain exactly where I am standing, in front of the court reporter's chair. We are on a brief recess.
"A PRIVATE word," he emphasizes, when he realizes I am not following him. I don't budge.
"No." I cross my arms, in my best I am not threatened by you manner, and do my best to stare down at him, even though he is about six foot two. "What would you like to speak about?"
Suddenly, his demeanor changes. He's very polite, and very uninterested. I've made myself a hard target. I won't even bend a little, cave to a demand of going into a hallway that is perfectly safe, given all the police around. If I had made that bend, maybe he would have tested more and more, until there was no safe harbor. But I didn't. I made myself a hard target. The female attorneys he hasn't approached yet follow my lead.
But that means he moves on to someone else.
I am under no illusion that I am remotely safe around this guy. Outside of the courtroom, I would find the nearest police officer. In the confines of the courtroom, I'm okay. I'm glad that I've come to a point where I have the wherewithall to recognize a predator and his tactics, and I am confident enough in myself in the courtroom that I can tell someone where to stick it.
But a small part of me is just screaming. Why did it take me this long to know this? Why wasn't I taught as a child to recognize that instinct that is screaming dangerous predator and act accordingly? Why was I taught to smile and be polite? Would things have been different for me if I had known this sooner?