By Emma Demosthens
“The only confrontation that you are guaranteed to survive every time is the one you are never involved in.” -R.A.D Systems
How safe do you feel as you walk to your dorm room? At night, do you walk around campus alone or with a friend? While self-defense is not a topic exclusive to women, it is a very important topic that women need to think about, and more importantly, prepare for.
I’ve always been pretty confident in my ability to physically defend myself when it came down to it. Now, I’m a small and soft-spoken person and at first glance you’d probably think I’m not capable of lifting more than 10 pounds, but appearances are often deceiving. I’m a lot stronger than most people would initially think, and have been able put up a decent fight. But what would you do if you suddenly found yourself alone, facing a larger aggressor ready to attack you? Are you confident that you’d have the physical skills and the mental calmness necessary to defend yourself?
Every semester, the university offers at least two sessions of the women’s RAD System course. The women’s RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) System course is a comprehensive self-defense course designed for women, that addresses risk awareness, risk prevention, risk reduction, avoidance, and includes hands on physical defense training. It’s an internationally recognized system and has been the gold-standard in self-defense instruction since it’s beginnings in 1989. At FSU, the course is taught by campus police officers that are certified RAD instructors. It’s an evening class and runs once a week for 3 hours over a period of 4 weeks.
While completing a RAD course will not prevent you from being targeted as a victim, or guarantee your safety in any or all scenarios, it will better prepare an individual mentally and physically for many cases where self-defense is necessary. The course teaches and strongly emphasizes physical self- defense, but it also emphasizes that risk awareness, risk reduction, risk recognition and risk avoidance are 90% of self-defense education. Think of it as a triangle; there’s the victim on one side, the assailant on the other side, and then opportunity makes up the bottom side. If you remove the foundation of opportunity, you keep yourself from being targeted.
The RAD systems also offers programs for children, men, and seniors, however only the women’s course is offered at the university. RAD systems comes with a free life-long return and practice policy. Once you’ve completed a course, you can take a refresher course anywhere to brush up on your skills for free.
In addition to physical skills gained for self-defense, you’ll learn about little steps that you can take to increase your overall safety, these strategies apply to men and women and include:
- Having good outdoor lighting on porches and driveways; this can deter crime greatly
- Keeping shrubs and bushes under windows at least 6″ below the ledge- so no one can hide behind them
- Investing in solid doors and locks-preferably deadbolts
- Being aware of your surroundings- your overall awareness is compromised by having your eyes glued to your phone (including texting!)
- Keeping dorm rooms closed and locked
- Not hiding a spare key outside a residence- such as on a porch or windowsill- it’s the first place where criminals will check
- Keeping your keys in hand as you walk to and from your car; it can be used for defense
- When walking back to your parked car, walking in the center of the access way if traffic permits- this will give you more reaction time
- Know where the emergency call boxes on campus are and have the campus police phone number saved to your phone
While I’ve been personally confident in my ability to defend myself, I realized that more knowledge and practice in the kind of environment that RAD provides would only benefit me in learning more effective self-defense techniques. Again, while self-defense is not a topic exclusive to women, it is an especially important topic for women to think about, as they are more likely to be victimized.
Don’t wait until something’s happened to you or a friend to start preparing yourself physically and mentally to defend yourself.