Self defense is RAD

An instructor dressed up in a padded aggressor suit for hands on defensive training. Photo Courtesy of WCU Police

April is sexual assault awareness and prevention month and for the WCU Police Department, safety is their number one priority.
According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, a person is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. There are more than 200,000 victims of sexual assault each year in the United States alone. Knowing this, more than 66 programs associated with sexual assault prevention at WCU have been organized in 2017 so far. WCU Police has partnered up with four other members of WCU’s faculty to teach a program known as R.A.D. to prepare students, faculty and staff to defend themselves from an assault.
R.A.D. stands for Rape Aggression Defense systems that are taught in order to reduce the likelihood of someone being a victim of sexual assault, or any other crime. WCU offers a one hour R.A.D. express course, a nine hour course and a 12 hour course.
Anyone can request a R.A.D. course for a group or organization. There is no minimum amount of people required to request a program, however they try to keep the maximum number around 30. The longer courses can take place in one day. However, depending on the group’s availability, they can offer spreading the longer courses out throughout a week. They try to be flexible with this to accommodate needs of the individuals in the course.
“Our goal is to have at least one of our R.A.D. Programs each semester, open to the entire campus population [of women]. Fall, spring and summer,” Sgt. Jacob Deal, WCU Campus Police, said.

The express course can be held in a dorm and is open to anybody who wants to participate. It is a condensed version of the full courses, but still contains discussion and teaches one or two techniques and defensive and striking stances. This course is normally requested and taught at least once a week.

A participant practicing striking components with an instructor. Photo Courtesy of WCU Police

The full courses offer detailed discussion about tactics, technique and areas of vulnerability and hands on training. The attendees practice specific hold components and striking components. The course ends in a simulation exercise where an instructor is in a padded aggressor suit, so the “victim” can practice in a somewhat real-world scenario. Deal said students have described these R.A.D. courses as fun and interactive ways to learn about protecting yourself in a situation of fear and danger. These courses provide in-depth teaching and training on how you can use your keys in the event that someone tries to attack or use certain body parts to defend yourself against an attacker.

The most recent R.A.D. course took place Saturday, March 25 in Harrill Hall. Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta and Sigma Gamma Rho requested this nine hour course. The flyer advertising this program was sent out Feb. 28 and within 30 minutes, all 20 spots were filled.

“The president of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Alexus Bonapart, brought up this idea to the ladies of Zeta Phi Beta and Alpha Kappa Alpha last spring. We thought this program would be a wonderful way for women on our campus to get involved and learn self-defense skills,” said Taylor Samuels, Vice President of Zeta Phi Beta.

The desired outcome of this course for Samuels was not only to learn how to protect herself, but to empower and encourage women in her community.

“We hoped that everyone who attended this program left with more self-confidence and self-assurance knows they can protect themselves if an attack were to happen,” said Samuels and added that the program did just that.

A participant defending herself from the “aggressor” during hands on defensive training. Photo Courtesy of WCU Police

Though men are able to participate in the express program, R.A.D. curriculum for the full programs have a female-only stipulation. According to Sgt. Deal, that is not a WCU policy, but one of R.A.D. The thought process behind that is that they don’t want to teach men the technique taught extensively to women to defend themselves.

There is, however,  a R.A.D. course specifically for men. It is not currently being offered at WCU, but Sgt. Deal said he is actively trying to make it happen.
“I will tell you that we have been looking to get into the R.A.D. for men instructor course. The problem is that we cannot teach that course without the specific certification and the instructor course is rarely taught, so it’s hard to find one,” explained Deal.

WCU Campus Police offer services to victims of sexual assault, even if they do not want to follow through with an investigation. Deal explained that the victim may need medical assistance, counseling or other assistance and officers are more than willing to provide the victim with the resources they need to move forward. WCU police also provide services for those who are in an uncomfortable or threatening situation, including an escort from a parking lot to a dorm.

Above is a Blue Light Phone location map of WCU’s campus.

“For example, you are driving back to campus late at night and you don’t feel comfortable walking from the baseball lot to your dorm by yourself. You can contact the campus police department and we will have an officer come out and walk with you to make sure you get there safely,” Deal explained.
There are many other services and tips that WCU offers for sexual assault prevention. Other recommended techniques to avoid assault on campus are:
– Walking in well lit areas
– Using the buddy system
– Telling someone where you’re going
– If uncomfortable or threatened, pick up a blue light emergency phone.
If you’re interested in requesting a R.A.D. program or getting more information, click here.
There are many cases where someone has been assaulted and the victim feels uncomfortable reporting it. WCU police officers want to emphasize that no assault is too little to be reported. If you’re unsure of whether you’ve been assaulted or if you feel uncomfortable about something, contact the WCU Police Department at 828-227-7301.

If you have an emergency, call 828-227-8911 or simply 911.