In movies, the bad guys usually lose.
In real life though, nothing’s ever that predictable. However, here at Keene State College, efforts are being made to help individuals stay mindful and prepared in case a bad guy were to show up.
One program in particular is Rape Aggression Defense, or R.A.D., as it’s commonly known. R.A.D. offers classes set on providing individuals with options to stay safe, using skills such as self-defense, being aware and planning ahead.
While there are classes for women, men, kids and seniors, KSC is preparing to offer one for women in February and March. It is a 12 hour course that will meet on Sunday evenings beginning Feb. 19.
Administrative Assistant at the Technology Design and Safety Center (TDS) Deb Williams is one of the instructors for the course and has been for roughly 15 years. For Williams, her interest in the class came from wanting to be a strong role model for her two daughters.
She explained how she attended a class and fell in love with it. “I decided I need to teach it and my supervisor at the time was very adamant about supporting the staff, so I was able to go and become a certifiable instructor,” she said.
Williams said what makes this class meaningful for her is when she sees a timid and shy person gain confidence. “It’s inspiring for me to watch them. It’s only 16 hours, but they transform. Each student will transform in their own way and it’s just awesome,” she said.
Williams said the reason why this program is so important particularly at a college is because it adheres to the statistics.
“If you look at statistics, this is the age group. From a senior in high school through sophomore and junior year in college, that’s one of the biggest age groups that’s affected,” she said. She said this is true for both men and women.
According to Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), “Women ages 18-24 who are college students are three times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence. Females of the same age who are not enrolled in college are four times more likely.” For men, “Males ages 18 to 24 who are college students are approximately five times more likely than non-students to be a victim of rape or sexual assault,” according to RAINN.
She said with these statistics in mind, the environment where the classes take place is meant to be a safe and welcoming place for anyone interested. “I’m not a counseling expert, but we’re definitely pretty comfortable with the difficult conversations…” she said.
“People think of rape as sex and rape isn’t sex; rape is control and taking power away from somebody, so it’s teaching someone how to be successful even when physically you may be at a disadvantage [with] strength, size, whatever. There are definitely ways you can be successful in protecting yourself.”
Williams continued, “Some part of being a successful participant is knowing when it’s okay to comply [and] knowing when it’s okay to fight. I mean, your biggest goal is to get out alive,” she said.
KSC Campus Safety Officer Michael Gomez is another instructor for the program and said from his understanding, the class’ purpose is to provide students with information on being aware of their surroundings so they can plan out a strategy.
He also mentioned how trusting your gut is vital. “That’s your body telling you something is wrong and you need to do something about it,” he said.
Gomez said that’s what the first night is about, talking about situations and figuring out solutions while getting to know each other. “The next two nights are all hands-on and then it comes to the fourth night where they actually get to use all the different moves we’ve taught them against an aggressor or multiple aggressors,” he said.
He said having this opportunity allows participants to practice what they’ve learned. He also emphasized that people don’t have to feel intimidated by other participants, that this is a learning opportunity for everyone involved.
“There’s no competition, everyone’s going at their own pace,” he said.
The classes coming up are intended for women, but the school does offer classes for men as well.
Gomez said there are differences between the two. “[The men’s class is] more geared toward the law and keeping yourself out of situations,” he said. He explained these situations as guys wanting to act tough and “puff out their chest,” thus getting into fights.
He used movies as an example. “When police come, only the bad guy is taken away and a lot of times, you need to know the real law, not televison law or movie law, and that you can get yourself into situations where you’re going to jail along with the person [you’re fighting],” he said.
Gomez continued to say that the men are also given techniques on being an active bystander. “A lot of times, [men] sit back because they don’t know what to do,” he said, noting that this class gives a guide on how to help.
KSC sophomore Derek Hall said being an active bystander is crucial on a college campus. “Oh it’s definitely important,” he said, “you never know how you can help, even just by calling the cops.”
Hall said he doesn’t typically feel unsafe on KSC’s campus. “It’s pretty well-lit and I feel good here, but sometimes off campus it can be a little weird,” he said.
He said he’s experienced it before where drunk people can get really rowdy. “I’ve had times where I feel the need to be cautious,” he said.
Hall said he had heard about the R.A.D. classes from an e-mail and thought it was a great incentive to keep people mindful and safe. “It’s a really great opportunity and so important. It’s good to know how you can protect yourself,” he said.
R.A.D. classes are free for participants. There’s also a lifetime warranty, according to their website, meaning once a R.A.D. member, always a R.A.D. member. The classes are taught all over the world, including such places as Egypt, Switzerland and Japan.
Here at Keene State, students can request programs from Campus Safety to run in case they can’t make them at the scheduled times otherwise, according to Assistant Director of Campus Safety Len Crossman. Crossman said, “Whatever topic they want, we will find a way to accommodate this project and cover that for them.”
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org