A new basic Rape Aggression Defense class will be offered as a women’s and gender studies course for one credit during the second seven weeks of this spring semester.
The class will be led by Liz Cannon, a certified RAD instructor and director of the LGBTQ Resource Center alongside Alicia Johnson, director of the Women’s Center.
RAD is a self-defense program that aims to inform students of the basic knowledge for what to know and look for before an attack as well as teach students how to respond to rape or sexual attack. The class is for survivors of rape or sexual assault and those who wish to learn and take action. The program is geared towards stranger attacks using the element of surprise, rather than techniques to be used in domestic situations.
Cannon said the RAD class gives students the tools they need to successfully get out of a rape or sexual assault situation.
“The goal is to provide students with a set of both mental and physical skills so that they can reduce the risk of being in a situation where there might be an assault or if there is an assault, give them more tools so that they can successfully get out of it,” Cannon said.
Cannon also said we should not have to live in a climate where this class is necessary.
“We start this class by saying we should not have to be teaching this class because we should not have to be living in a climate where it’s necessary for us to teach this class,” Cannon said. “We also know that by teaching this class, we are offering Band-Aids for this problem; we are not solving the problem.”
The class is broken up into sections. The first hour is spent in the classroom gaining knowledge about what might go on in a perpetrators mind and the signs to look for. The second half of of the class is spent in the gym where physical skills are learned through several techniques including strikes, kicks and how to get out of certain kinds of holds.
Captain of Police Chris Tarmann and personnel from area prisons also help teach students strategies for defending themselves.
“Our detective goes in and talks to the class about our campus involvement and how we can be a resource for students then also provides some strategies to help defend themselves,” Tarmann said. “At the end of the class, myself and a couple personnel from area prisons help dents with scenarios.”
Cannon said studies have shown there is a mental choice that takes place in the mind of a perpetrator before an attack.
“What we have learned from studies that have interviewed, usually it’s men who are in situations who are in prison for life, they talk about how they choose their victims,” Cannon said. “Even if it’s a snap decision, there is a mental choice of who is going to be a victim and who is not. A lot of what they talk about it, is how that person is presenting themselves to the world.”
Student Amber Anderson said from her own experience in participating in self-defense classes, she thinks the strategies that are taught are very useful.
“When I was younger, I went to a self-defense class so I could learn how to defend myself,” Anderson said. “I think this is a good class to be offered because I don’t think many people know good self-defense strategies.”
Tarmann said this course offers great confidence skills to students so they can handle these situations.
“I think it’s a great class,” Tarmann said. “It’s one piece of a very large puzzle that offers some skill-building for women on campus who maybe didn’t have any skills on defensive tactics or how to manage someone who’s attempting to take advantage of them. This is such a good course for that because it offers those skills and confidence that they can handle those situations.”
According to Cannon, RAD classes are taught separately for men and women for privacy concerns.
“It’s hard to teach RAD classes to both male and female students because there are different techniques used when an attack takes place against a male than a female,” Cannon said. “There’s also the chance that students could feel uncomfortable with the opposite sex in class if they are a victim of rape or assault.”
UWO student Adam Canedy said he would like to see a RAD class offered on campus for men.
“I’m sure there are statistics that show that these situations happen more to women than men, but I do think that there should be a class offered to men,” Canedy said.