Criminal Justice News

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

R.A.D. Rape Aggressor Defense

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

2/25/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Army Staff Sgt. Stephanie Kiser, 725th Brigade Support Battalion truck driver, was nervous. Her eyes were closed and her world threatened. Someone was toying with her ponytail, teasing and bullying her.

The suspense of the moment built up around her. She didn't like the situation.

This creep is touching me, she thought. I need to get him off me somehow.

Her mind whirled around her optional reactions -- various ways to attack the groin, strikes to the nose or face, stomps and other moves. The ultimate goal: to get the guy off her so she could get to safety.

His arms wrapped around her then and tightened into a bear hug. She reacted reflexively, and soon her Rape Aggressor Defense instructor was on the floor in his full body protective gear, praising her swift reactions as she simulated running to safety.

"It was really fun," Kiser said, "Your adrenaline's rushing and you're like 'oh man, I don't know when they're going to attack me' and it's actually really good. Once they do grab onto you, you feel a lot more confident once you've gotten that person off of you and you're running away from them. You feel this wave of confidence come over you."

The mission of R.A.D. Systems is to establish an accessible, constantly improving and internationally respected alliance of dedicated instructors. The instructors provide educational opportunities for women, children, men and seniors to create a safer future for themselves. They challenge society to evolve into an existence where violence is not an acceptable part of daily life, their website says.

"This R.A.D. course is used to give women a set of tools to get away from a bad situation," said Sgt. 1st Class Virgil Allen, U.S. Army Alaska Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment noncommissioned officer in charge of the Arctic Warrior Combatives Academy, certified R.A.D. instructor and a native of Fort Worth, Texas. "It's not rape self-defense; it's defense against getting into a bad situation. That's what it really is; teaching a female to get away."

According to the program director Lawrence Nadeau, R.A.D. has trained more than 900,000 women since the program began in 1989.

The course starts by educating women on how to avoid bad situations. This included avoiding texting or otherwise actively using a cell phone while walking through an isolated area like a parking garage at night, or dark alley, Kiser said.

"I think it's really important to be aware of your surroundings and to know what to do if somebody attacks you," she said.

One goal, Allen said, is to give females confidence so that any potential aggressors don't find them easy targets.

"This is my first time taking this class," said Army Reserve Chaplain (Capt.) Angie Erickson, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention victim advocate. "For me, I think it's really important to be vigilant in your surroundings. It gave me awareness that I'm not without options when I come up against someone trying to hurt me."

The program is an internationally recognized alliance of self-defense educators dedicated to enhancing defensive options for women, children, men and seniors, while developing their individually unique abilities to manage aggressive and violent behavior. R.A.D. is the largest network of its kind with more than 11,000 instructors who teach at various colleges, universities, municipal law enforcement agencies, and various other organizations. It is the only existing program with a free lifetime return and practice policy, honored worldwide, the website says.

The classes are offered in colleges and police departments across the country, Allen said. He and others were able to invite R.A.D. instructors from the University of Anchorage, Alaska, onto the base and then got certified to be instructors themselves. The instructors from UAA were certified in teaching the R.A.D. class for females.

"We only have instructors certified for R.A.D. for females right now," Sgt. 1st Class Tawrence Smith, program manager for R.A.D. on JBER. "The statistics of the installation suggested that females were the highest group to focus on at that time. There was also more support locally."

The course is offered free on base, whereas off-base classes can cast anywhere from $35 to $50, he said. A graduate can attend another class anywhere for free.

"I really enjoyed the R.A.D. program," Kiser said. "I've learned new things; it's really easy and it's fun."

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