The Arizona State University Police Department is teaching self-defense courses to women in the community for free through the R.A.D. program in efforts to prevent sexual violence but also to help women identify their inner strength.
R.A.D., which stands for Rape Aggression Defense Systems, began in 1988 and was implemented on the ASU campuses to help women combat sexual assault which is an issue on many college campuses across the country.
“We educate women, instill dependency on one’s self, teach the importance of making your own decision and help you identify your power,” says ASU PD Officer Daniel Miller.
Miller is one of the many members of ASU Police who are certified to instruct these courses, which require a minimum of 30 hours of training.
Not only does Miller teach women skills to allow them to escape sexually violent situations, but he also teaches women that it’s okay to say no and it is ultimately up to them to be able to decide how far something should go. If a man doesn’t listen, then women should take action. Whether it be as simple as to report a minor incident or if more serious, use actions of self-defense.
“R.A.D. takes your natural reactions and striking tendencies and fine-tunes the skills to be as effective as possible,” Miller says.
“It’s empowering to know you have the skills to defend yourself,” says Katy Harris, media relations specialist for ASU Police, who also participated in the R.A.D. course.
R.A.D. shows women that the notion that they can’t defend themselves against men is false and they too can stand up for themselves and take action when something is wrong.
Upon observing a R.A.D. classroom, one would notice a lot of yelling before each move is practiced. The women taking the course are taught to yell words like “STOP” or “NO” before using force. This is to ensure that their attacker and everyone else around them is aware that what is happening is not okay.
Not only does this help everyone involve recognize something is wrong but it also empowers women. This is because when they yell these words, their adrenaline starts pumping and if their situation continues to escalate, they are able to exercise their self-defense moves with more readiness and strength.
“Everybody, especially women, should learn basic self-defense moves,” says Candace Lewis, who attended the three-session class offered on the ASU downtown campus.
“Everyone I know was raised with the idea to hold keys in your fist to protect yourself. So even though I feel like I live in a relatively safe state, every woman can relate to the hyper-awareness that we tend to have when we’re alone in the dark and this class actually gives you some preparedness and moves to be ready if something happens,” Lewis says.
“I think R.A.D is trying to incorporate the new conversations that all society is having that we need to be doing a lot more than just teaching women self-defense when you need to be teaching men appropriate behavior,” Lewis says.