Spotlight on R.A.D.

Ladies!! College is the perfect time to learn to defend yourself against someone who may not have your best interest in mind. While you are most vulnerable at night hours when walking back to your room from the library or maybe out having a good time over the weekend, this R.A.D. self-defense class will teach you many moves and tactics to get you away from your pursuer!


 As previously learned in class and in the article by Eliza Gray, about the college town of Missoula, 1 in 5 women experience rape or sexual abuse while in college. Therefore, it is something that many women experience and is something that needs to be stopped. The R.A.D class makes that effort to inform women with different ways to protect themselves from these situations of rape or abuse.

Rape, Aggression, Defense (R.A.D) systems of self-defense main mission is to, “establish an accessible, constantly improving and internationally respected alliance of dedicated instructors to teach woman to develop and enhance the options of self-defense, so they may become viable considerations to the woman who is attacked”. The program provides realistic defense techniques and tactics taught by certified instructors. This system allows women to become more educated and knowledgeable about their decisions involving resistance.

While this class is only offered every couple of weeks for twelve hours, split into three different sessions it has proven to be extremely beneficial. This class is only offered for women and is confidential where the system does not want men or others to learn the taught defensive techniques. This class does not only offer defensive mechanisms but it also serves as a liability to women so they are able to utilize the tactics in real life situations. For example, if a woman injured a man in the effort to protect herself, these classes are documented to assist the women so she cannot be sued in court. This is a reason why the class is structured and not modified because the paperwork will cover for liability purposes.

Session one is a prepping session that teaches the woman how to develop a defensive mindset. There is not one straightforward way to prevent rape because each situation is different, but there are steps taken in order to avoid certain encounters. It emphasizes and involves discussions of awareness, prevention, risk reduction, and avoidance. The risk reduction strategies learned offer women different options and considerations to think about when they are at home, out and about, in your vehicle, and in public transportation. The women learn basic principles of defense, which involves understanding how to utilize the body as a weapon in order to produce the ultimate amount of human force to harm the attacker. These are very important tactics to learn because rapists come in all shapes and sizes from all backgrounds and women need to be mentally alert about their surroundings and environments because it can happen to anyone.

Session two provides a hands on learning experience and less informational. Each participant learns techniques based on simple skills to use in different situations. Each move is able to become visceral to each participant due to many repetitions. This session of the class lets the women physically use the tactics by hitting or attacking padded equipment. Women are able to target an attacker from using these techniques against physical objects. At the end of this session, the women are also able to reflect back on the progress they have made and their personal changes from the previous session.

Session three allows the women to put all of the information and tactics they learned to use. There are provided realistic simulated assaults where they must use prior class knowledge to defend and protect themselves. Here, the R.A.D instructors are the assaulters and wear protective gear designed for this specific training. This allows the women to attack in a safe environment and then think back to the progress they have made over the course of the class. The end of the class provides the women with group discussions and critiques to review what they have been taught and the development they made to carry with them into possible realistic settings.

After speaking with Lieutenant Rochelle Berrios, coordinator of the R.A.D system at Vanderbilt University Police Department, we learned that most participants in this program are not undergraduate students at Vanderbilt University but Medical Staff or other citizens of the community. We found this interesting due to the prevalence of rape on college campuses and the universities attempts to address the problematic occurrences on campus. As we learned in class, the majority of reported rapes are between students, which justifies that more undergraduate students should be taking advantage of this program. Thinking back to the statistic that is provided in the article by Eliza Gray, 19% of women are raped during their years in college, there should be a greater stress on participating in a defensive program such as one like R.A.D. that raises awareness of these occurrences.

Considering the thoughts of men in the study done at the University of Montana who label freshman as “easy prey”, do you think an R.A.D should be a required class for incoming female college freshman? Could a self defense program like R.A.D. help lower the statistic of women sexually assaulted on college campuses? If Vanderbilt University made a better effort to promote this program and showed the effect and impact it can make on women, would you sign up for this class?


-Sarah Bell and Erin Edmond

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