We’ve all thought about it: What if I’m being followed? What if a stranger attacks me or what if someone I know attacks me? What do I do?
These are thoughts every woman has had to consider and at times these types of scenarios can leave us feeling scared, uncomfortable or could even prevent us from going out and trying new things alone. Fortunately, the Cole County Sheriff’s Department, the Jefferson City Police Department and the Lincoln University Police Department have been working hard in teaching women how to defend themselves.
The R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) System is in its fifth year with the sheriff’s department and is designed to teach women how to become aware of situations and what to do if an assault occurs. The mission of the R.A.D. System is to establish an accessible, constantly improving and internationally respected alliance of dedicated instructors. In turn, these instructors provide educational opportunities for women to create a safer future for themselves. In doing this, the system will challenge society to evolve into an existence where violence is not an acceptable part of daily life.
“The ultimate goal is for each woman to go home to their families safely. Our program is not only uplifting and enlightening to each participant; it also validates the students inner strength and abilities, which I feel is empowering,” said Cole County Deputy Tiffany Thurman, who is also a R.A.D. instructor.
The program began with Lawrence N. Nadeau of Virginia after he served with the U.S. Marine Corps as a military police officer. After leaving the military, he began working in civilian law enforcement and partnered with his colleague, Sheri Iachetta, to combine combat training skills into realistic self-defense tactics for women.
The R.A.D. System has since become an internationally recognized alliance of self-defense educators. Nadeau is currently the director of instructional development and works with active instructors to ensure women who enter the program leave with the knowledge of how to defend against the most common strikes, use methods to disable a potential attacker and how to use lifestyle awareness and empowerment to prevent attacks from happening.
The R.A.D. program is only offered to women. Assaults from men onto women still make up the majority of sexual assaults in the United States today. In order to protect potential victims, instructors want to prevent potential assailants or rapists from learning defensive reactions.
This program does not only help women trying to prevent assaults, but can also be as equally helpful to women with past or current abuse situations.
“I was looking up stats and found that 321,500 rape and sexual assaults happen per year in the U.S.,” Thurman said. “Even when you look at the stats I don’t believe that they are completely 100 percent accurate because a lot of women don’t come forward either out of fear, shame, guilt or retaliation. As a law enforcement officer, you see so many situations you just wonder if you can do something different then let’s do it. Why not offer a program that can prevent it all together possibly or at least give them more options.”
The R.A.D. program is also free of charge. The R.A.D. System shares the belief that self-defense for women should not only be practical, but affordable, and that every woman should have tools necessary to defend themselves against an attack.
R.A.D. also offers a lifetime practice policy. This means women can participate in any R.A.D. basic physical defense class in the United States and can come back to practice what they learned in previous classes at no cost to them.
The entirety of the program is 15 hours long and separated into four separate classes. Each class lasts about four hours with the exception of the final class, which lasts only three hours. The only thing required for the class is that you wear a pair of comfortable workout shoes and that you bring your own water or sports drink, as the classes are physically demanding.
Upcoming dates for R.A.D. classes will take place in March, May, July, September and October. Classes are from 6-10 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Cole County Sheriff’s Office at 350 East High St. in Jefferson City, with the last class from 6-9 p.m. Applications are available at the Cole County Sheriff’s Office or at www.colecountysheriff.org. Anyone under the age of 18 will also need to fill out a parental consent form. For updates about R.A.D., visit the local program’s Facebook page.
R.A.D. has five more sessions this year, including March 13, 15, 20 and 22. Here are the remaining sessions you can register for:
– May 15, 17, 22 and 24
– July 10, 12, 17 and 19
– Sept. 11, 13, 18 and 20
– Oct. 16, 18, 23 and 25