Intimidation

Sometimes, when I’m playing one of my computer games, I hit a level where I get intimidated and must stop. I do too well and worry I’ll screw it up. Silly, right? I bought the game to bleeding play, and it’s no competition. Still, there it is: intimidation. Eventually I get over it, and continue.

Been intimidated on stage. Many times. By the crowd, the heat, the lights, my own jitters…. There have been mornings and nights I’ve vomited my fear up, but it didn’t stop me from going on when I needed to.

Today I faced a different intimidation. One deeply layered – almost insidiously so. It’s tied into rape and physical abuse…and I realize even as I’m writing this that I’m only touching the top of it.

The guy in my Friday language class – the one I’ve mentioned before – …well, he showed up today. Class begins at 9:15 and runs to noon. He banged the door open at 11 and sat as near the door as possible. Fifteen minutes later he slammed the door shut on his way out.

A ripple of fear ran around the room. Literally; you could feel it. One of my teachers – the male – tried to pass if off when someone asked what it was all about. Said he thought maybe the guy was just going to the bathroom. Yeah, right.

Btw, the rest of us are women. And it doesn’t take a genius to look at us and realize I am not the only one with abuse and rape in my history.

Couple that with current news. Dare I mention, in this context, terrorism?

I am NOT comfortable with this guy. Purely on the anger issue. Add in whatever happened with the female teacher, and I’m on edge. Douse that with today’s event and I’m unsure I want to go back if he keeps showing up.

I don’t feel safe.

I don’t want to condemn out of hand, either. I’m completely aware that all of this blatant anger in class might be because of something else. Other stressors in his life. What I’d like is an explanation, but considering his tight-lipped reluctance to say anything (leaving his comments purely in the form of angry stares and slamming doors), I doubt I’ll get one. And, you know the saying – better safe than sorry. He’s displaying behavior that’s intimidating all of us, so I’ll err on the side of caution and say get this guy the fuck out!

But – what to do, what to do? Do I lodge a complaint? Nothing has been directed purely towards me. I did not see whatever happened that made the female teacher tell him to keep his hands to himself and stay away from her. I do not want to cause more trouble in a perhaps already deeply troubled life. And, bloody hell, you know they’ll make me say it in Dutch (a small, yet troubling snag in this situation). Yet…what if we’re really in danger? What if something happens? Something more than what we’ve already been subjected to?

And how about our rights? Don’t we have a right to learn in a safe space, without this intimidation?

Why was he even allowed back in the building after what happened with the teacher? …What did happen?

I was worried enough that I shifted in my seat slightly to keep the corner of my eye on him. He was sitting next to L, a really nice woman I’d like to call my friend. I didn’t want anything to happen and have L be too afraid to say something.

If I’m that worried, isn’t it possible there’s something to worry about?

Our school year is almost over. Two more weeks to go. The timing of it all adds to my uncertainty. Maybe he won’t come back in September.

Maybe I should let it go. Doesn’t seem either teacher said anything.

But maybe they’re struggling with it, too. They’re volunteers. I’m sure they don’t want to appear to not be able to handle half a dozen adults.

I’m also sure I’m not imagining the ripple effect around the room today.

Not a one of us wants that anger pointed directly at us.

We’re all intimidated.

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