Many college campuses have seen an influx of reports concerning sexual assault in the last few years. For the Troy University students who would like to be more prepared for a situation such as sexual assault, the university offers self-defense classes that are taught by certified instructors each semester.
The Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) program focuses on raising overall awareness on the need for self-defense and providing the students with safety tips and measures that they can implement into their daily lives, according to R.A.D. instructor and Troy police Sgt. Michael O’Hara.
The self-defense course that is offered each semester is for one credit hour, in which the women learn and practice the defensive moves needed to protect themselves. The instructors must be R.A.D.-certified, meaning that they must have passed an examination and a practical exercise.
“The overall theme is to remove the foundation of opportunity for crime against you,” O’Hara said. “Many of the things they learn don’t really apply to them yet, but they are the building blocks for later in life.”
During the course, the students learn techniques, such as defensive stances, bear hugs, kicks, elbow strikes, and many more, through simulations and using pads. Students also learn details such as the importance of eye contact and knowing target areas.
One student taking the course, who wished to remain anonymous, said that she signed up for the class to learn accurate moves with which to protect herself. “I wanted to learn the things that would do more damage than just pressure points on a man,” she said. “I’ve already been balanced better, body structure-wise.”
The women take the course apart from men, except for the instructors. The women taking the course say that they appreciate that separation.
The women are taught to yell “No!” as they practice each technique so that they can get accustomed to using their voices while they are moving and defending themselves.
The student who wishes to remain anonymous said, “I love that we use our voices.”
Nejla Ben Mimoun, a senior finance major from Djlreva, Tunisia, said that her favorite thing about the course is the “yelling.”
The women who are taking the course already feel more prepared to defend themselves in the future. Ben Mimoun said that she signed up for the course because it “sounded fun and was a good way to get extra credit.”
O’Hara said that his favorite part of teaching the course is “seeing the students go from not realizing that they have the power to fight back to seeing the light bulb come on, and they realize that they have power. You see a complete change in demeanor and facial expression.”
In O’Hara’s opinion, the most important thing that the students learn during the course is empowerment. “They have the ability to fight back no matter what the situation is,” he said.
For the students not taking the course, O’Hara advises them to always report suspicious activity to the police, even if it is just a minor thing. “If you see someone strange walking around campus, or even talking to you at the grocery store, report it,” he said. “If we don’t know about it, we can’t help you in advance.”
The R.A.D. course is offered to the women on campus each semester, with both basic and advanced courses currently available. There is also a unique advantage to taking the course: the women who have completed the course can return and practice for free. “Once you graduate, you can show your signed manual and take the R.A.D. course for free,” O’Hara said. “I encourage all of the women on campus to take the course.”