As the all-female participants in the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) course practiced their defensive stances, strikes and kicks, they were encouraged to raise their voice and yell, “No!” and, “Stay back!” as they harnessed their strength and their confidence.
The RAD course encourages female empowerment by teaching basic movements that can aid participants in the event of an attack. Sergio Oliva, the associate director of public safety and one of the instructors of the two-day, 12 hour course, said that the main goal of the course is survival.
“I hope that, upon completion of the course, participants feel more empowered in their ability to avoid bad situations and to physically defend themselves,” Oliva said an email interview.
RAD used four different sections to maximize safety on campus and in potentially dangerous situations, such as walking alone at night or going to an ATM. The first part of the course was a PowerPoint presentation focused on risk awareness, risk reduction, risk recognition and risk avoidance techniques. After that section concluded, all participants learned basic stances, strikes and kicks that can be useful to ward off attackers. The final section consisted of a live simulation of a random attack, with participants defending themselves against trained instructors who act as aggressors.
Raynia Price, a sophomore visual and sound media major, said that the simulations were the most effective part of the course.
“The simulations were amazing,” Price said. “They had three: the walk in the park, the ATM and the UK cycle.”
In the UK cycle, the instructors try to mimic a real-life attack by having participants close their eyes and only open them when they feel someone touching them. Oliva said that this simulation, while it might feel unnatural, demonstrates how distracted we are when walking while on our phones or with our backs turned at an ATM.
“My approach to teaching the course is going over everyday scenarios that affect us all, for example, running in the park with ear buds in or walking down a street focusing on our phone instead of becoming aware of our surroundings,” Oliva said.
Price said that she attended the course because she felt it was relevant to modern times where violence toward women has become prevalent.
Alyssa Veltre, an undeclared freshman, said that she enrolled in the course since this is her first time living away from home. While initially skeptical, Veltre said that she was ultimately glad she enrolled in the course.
“It was easy to understand, easy to follow and it was free,” Veltre said. “It was accessible to women our age, easy to learn and easy to get to.”
Price added that the confidence she earned was the most important part of the course.
“The most important thing was having confidence in yourself and being able to say ‘no’ and feel comfortable saying it, knowing where you stand in your own importance as a female, and that you’re invaluable.”
Veltre added that the most important part of the course for her was finding a voice.
“We said “no” so many times,” she said. “I feel like it gave me the mentality to say “no” even if [I’m] not in a fighting stance.”
Alyssa Schirm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.