Learning self-defense with RAD

Kara Toay

Being 5 feet and not very strong, my parents and I worried about how I would be able to defend myself if anything were to happen to me when I went off to college. They didn’t want me to get sexually assaulted and, of course, neither did I.

When I came up for orientation and started signing up for classes, I had one more health credit that I needed to take. When the adviser who was helping me register for classes mentioned RAD, I figured it would be a great class for me to take in my first semester at college.

A year and a half ago, when I found out the course wouldn’t be offered anymore, I was upset.

For those of you who don’t know, RAD stands for Rape Aggression Defense. In the class, I learned what RAD stood for and ways I could protect myself from being assaulted. We not only learned defensive moves such as blocking and how to get the aggressor off of us if they pinned us to the ground, but ways to avoid being in a spot that would allow us to be more easily assaulted.

During the course, there were times where I was in the classroom learning how to be aware of surroundings and to stay on paths that are lit, but most of the course was spent in a small padded room where I would put the defensive moves that I learned to use and practice with partners so I was comfortable performing them should the occasion arise.

The final was a written exam and then a mock fight with an public safety officer dressed up in a padded suit. The room would be completely dark with only a red light on that I would have to get to while defending myself against the officer.

But when it came time to take the final, the instructor had to inform the class that we would only be able to take the written exam. Why? Because there was a lack of resources and only one officer available to help with the final, but who could not handle taking on 30 students.

She said if she could, she would be in there to help us take our finals, but she wasn’t allowed to. There was even talk of hiring a couple of people to take on the responsibility of being the aggressor for the RAD finals. Our instructor encouraged us to talk to the people in charge of the RAD classes to get this changed so RAD could continue, but that didn’t happen.

Now RAD is no longer offered to students at NMU.

RAD was a great class that I am extremely glad I was able to take. I made a new friend from the class and learned a lot from it. One in four women are sexually assaulted on campuses and RAD is offered at many universities to help fight against this.

The Health Promotion Society just put on a Week of Action to raise awareness against sexual assault, but this is not enough. After my experience in RAD, I wish that it was still offered here at NMU.

We all need to be able to defend ourselves when the situation comes and this class was a step in that direction that many people will not be able to experience because it isn’t offered.