Spotlight on R.A.D.

The R.A.D. mission is to “develop and enhance the options of self defense, so they may become viable considerations to the woman who is attacked” (Lawrence N. Nadeu).

This organization was founded by Lawrence N. Nadeu in order to teach women ways to protect themselves from sexual assault through risk awareness, risk reduction, risk recognition and risk avoidance, which is 90% of self-defense education. The Vanderbilt Branch, ran by Rochelle M Berrios, focuses mainly on the female education and awareness of rape, specifically on college campuses. Topics reviewed in a typical class involve awareness, avoidance, defensive resistance, compliance, physical defense and weapon defense, the reporting of an incident. On college campuses, rape is often not reported. R.A.D. is designed to not only comply with attacks, but to avoid and prevent rape. Although it focuses mostly on rape, it gives women tools to effectively handle multiple types of sexual assault. However, the two-hour time session isn’t fully sufficient for what is needed to for physical defense, and martial arts training is recommended on top of R.A.D. classes for an added physical component. It takes 6 total courses to learn all the necessary information and earn the certificate of completion. While many women do not think that a 12-hour course is necessary, it is an extremely helpful class and has been effective to many of the student Berrios has taught.

At the first session of R.A.D. that we attended, we did not get to engage in too much physical, hands-on training. The session included a very informative introduction of what assault was, and a very informal manual was given to us. Over the two-hour time period, we learned about the many types of sexual assault. The instructors clarified rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy, stalking, date rape, and the different types of consent. We also learned how legal actions come into play when someone is sexually assaulted. Following learning about legal practices, the four risks of personal safety were discussed.  These risks play the largest role in avoiding rape, and are seen as more important than the physical aspects of rape prevention, enabling a solid base of knowledge and awareness. The risks include awareness, reduction, recognition, and avoidance. The continuum of survival enforced how to deal with rape through the law and in court, as well as awareness, avoidance, defensive resistance, compliance, physical defense, and weapon defense. Following the base education we received, it finally came time to learn about defense strategies. We learned self defense through natural reactions as well as reactions to verbal harassment. Through these lessons, the importance of body language through stance, tone of voice, and assertiveness were vital for real-life situations of assault.

According to the Department of Justice, every two minutes a woman is sexually assaulted in the US. While this is happens all around the country, it is more prevalent on college campuses where Eriza Gray and other government officials have synthesized that one in five women in college gets sexually assaulted during their time as a student. A small percentage of female Vanderbilt students actually attend the course. When we interviewed Berrios, she told us that most of the classes she teaches are attended by women from the medical center and women from the community. If rape and sexual assault are so prevalent on campus, why is there such low numbers of female students attending these classes?

When talking to Mrs. Berrios, she explained to us how men do not end up attending self-defense classes due to their cockiness. Men in society are expected to express their dominance and masculinity, which makes many men believe that they do not need any advice on how to stop an incident of sexual assault. Male’s need to prove heterosexuality through hyper-masculinity causes male students to dismiss seeking protective measures against sexual violence. Although there are few sexual assault cases involving a male victim, these skills can be applicable to any man. Should men be expected to learn protective measures, like women are?

In Introducing the New Sexual Studies, it discussed how men used sex and power based violence to dominate women. Since women are seen as passive, men think that it is easier to take advantage of them due to gender norms saying they are fragile. Through this class, R.A.D. instructors give women the confidence to fight back in proven, effective ways. The class also teaches women the laws on sexual assault since women today are usually extremely scrutinized and questioned by society. How do we encourage women to step up and report sexual crimes that have occurred? The harsh laws in place make it hard for men to be charged with rape. This is one of the many reason women do not feel comfortable coming forward after an attack takes place. R.A.D. does not only teach preemptive measure women can take to physically defend themselves but the instructors help people understand how to effectively report an incident if something goes wrong. Should there be more laws in place to protect women once an assault has occurred?

Especially now that so many emails are being sent out about sexual assault on campus, women need to search for resources that can help them if something does happen to them. Why wouldn’t you want to learn how to best protect yourself against sexual assault?

-Kara Lucenti and Tara Radan