I entered the subway and saw a well-dressed young man, white shirt, tie, dark pants, with a small backpack, who would not have caught my attention, except he looked like he was going to speak to me, then thought better of it (maybe he wanted directions). I sat down on a bench nearby and then saw him engage a pretty, young woman. I heard him ask her name, she answered, he stuck out his hand, which she shook briefly, and he started asking her personal questions. My senses went on high alert and I stared hard at the young woman (his back was now to me). She widened her eyes at me in panic mode and I instantly stood up and said in a loud voice: “Hey Sue! [the name I heard her give him] Come over and sit by me!" She hurried over, while he stayed where he was, a few yards from us. I whispered my name to her, and we proceeded to talk as if we were old friends. When the train arrived, he stayed on the platform. As benign as it sounds, the whole episode felt creepy. Sue, (not her actual name) was shaken, said she usually felt helpless in situations like that and was glad that I intervened. I told her I was a self-defense teacher and recommended a self-defense course at Center for Anti-Violence Education, which helps people set strong verbal boundaries, among other skills.
Ryn Hodes, Brooklyn NY, Trained as a self-defense teacher at Center for Anti-Violence Education and certified by NWMAF