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Women talk self-defense, empowerment learned from Ohio State RAD program

Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes are open to women in Ohio 14 and older and are held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m. in Lawrence Tower at 328 Lane Ave. Credit: Kailan Martin | Lantern Reporter

There have been multiple instances where Nikki Stacey has felt unsafe walking alone near Ohio State’s campus. She didn’t feel prepared if something horrific were to happen on the walk, whether that be getting jumped or getting approached by a stranger.

This led Stacey to take part in University Police’s Rape Aggression Defense program last week. It just so happened that the date in which she took the class fell during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time dedicated to promoting education on sexual assault and preventing it, as well as increasing knowledge on available resources.

RAD teaches realistic self-defense techniques to students, preparing them to defend themselves in the event they are threatened. Stacey, a fourth-year in psychology, said the techniques allow students to feel more confident, safe and empowered when alone.

“They’re providing us with tools that I didn’t even know were out there,” she said.

There are many reasons why students take the self-defense class. For Lauren Riede, feeling unsafe in a past relationship led her to the April 10 course.

“I am actually in this class because I was in the process of getting a restraining order on an ex-boyfriend,” Riede, a first-year in molecular genetics said. “Hearing the stories of other people helped me feel like I’m not alone and it kind of gave me a lot of strength knowing that I can stand up for myself, and I think that is really important for people our age.”

Cassandra Shaffer, crime prevention officer and RAD instructor, said the focus of the free program is to empower women like Riede and Stacey.

“When you have to think of it as real situation, all of the women are behind you cheering you on and you’re not alone so it’s neat to feel that empowerment.” – Hannah Reese, a third-year in middle childhood education.

“Our ultimate goal is to give them techniques and help women overcome those obstacles they come in here with,” Shaffer said. “Everyone has a different obstacle, whether it’s an experience or a fear, you name it. We want to empower them to overcome that, so when the day comes, they can defend themselves if necessary.”

Shaffer said there are a lot of tactics the instructors teach in class, including awareness tips for when participants are out in public.

“This class is not only for sexual assaults, it’s for violence against women in general … We try to help our students recognize different clues and different physical cues an attacker will be giving them,” Shaffer said.

Participants learn self-defense techniques for different scenarios, like being attacked from behind. During these practices, other students are there for support, said Hannah Reese, a third-year in middle childhood education.

“When you have to think of it as real situation, all of the women are behind you cheering you on and you’re not alone so it’s neat to feel that empowerment,” Reese said. “If you’re ever being attacked, you can always think of those voices cheering you on so that you remember that you’re fighting for something more than just yourself, but you’re fighting for the ones that love you.”

Reese said she was taught to trust her instincts in any situation.

“We learned that if you ever have a bad feeling about a situation, you’re always right so don’t second-guess yourself. If you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut feeling,” she said. “It made me feel stronger and want to continue to be more aware on campus when walking around. I think it’s the best thing I’ve done in my college career and most impactful thing I’ve been a part of.”

Registration for RAD classes can be found here.

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