R.A.D. program to train women in self-defense

Photo Credit: www.brocku.ca

Photo Credit: www.brocku.ca

Self-defense training for women is available on campus through the R.A.D. program, providing opportunities for students to practice defending themselves against physical attacks. The winter term’s courses have already begun.

Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) is offered by Brock’s Campus Security Services Department in partnership with the Departments of Residences and Recreation Services.  The program teaches awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance, while teaching hands on defence techniques.

As of right now the program is only offered to those who identify as female in particular, as the coordinators “are not certified at this time to teach the men’s course,” but the training is available elsewhere and will soon be implemented at Brock.

“The more tools a person has to defend themselves and the opportunities to practice those tools, the more confident they become in their own abilities — should they need to defend themselves,” said Karl Thorp, the Operations Supervisor of R.A.D.

The coordinators have encouraged anyone to come out and experience R.A.D. The program begins with normal training, but at the end of  the three hour simulation period, participants get dressed in protective gear and run through realistic scenarios where they physically get to use the techniques on the instructor.

“I have gained an insight and intimate knowledge of what it feels like to be helpless and powerless over an attacker,” said Thorp. “The training drives me to empower the participants of the training, each one of them has tools in their tool box. We as instructors enhance their tools and provide them with opportunities to gain confidence and empowerment.”

R.A.D. was created as a response to the Ontario government’s 2015 release of It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment (SVHAP). This program released by the government invested $1.7 million in training projects for frontline workers in the hospitality, health, education, and community services sectors to help recognize and respond to sexual violence and harassment. This created training for many Canadian university security services leading to the creation of R.A.D.

In October 2015 two members of Brock University Campus Security Services, Karl Thorp and Rick Fraser, as well as Megan Locker from Brock Sports and Lesley Beninger from the Department of Residences, became certified instructors in R.A.D.

“All too often, departments like Campus Security are reacting to acts of violence, harassment, and sexual assault and [R.A.D.] allows us to try and mitigate these acts through the training,” said Thorp.

The program began as a simple technique class but in February 2017, the team expanded their training with something called Replication Adverse Dynamics, “a reality based driven simulation designed to provide participants with the most dynamic, realistic and critical, safe simulation expanding their basic training,” said Rick Fraser, a R.A.D. instructor. ”For those who are comfortable, as not everyone is, we run them through scenarios where they are able to put the skills we have taught them to use by physically engaging and defending themselves in scripted, real life scenarios.”

The trainers have attempted to make the training accessible for all. While it has not come to be a concern yet, the trainers will endeavour to accommodate students who may require it.

“I don’t recall this as an issue coming up, but we do have participants of varying levels of physical fitness as well as various health/physical limitations due to injuries, etc,” said Fraser. “We haven’t turned anyone away yet, and will continue to work with our participants to provide the training.”

In implementing this course “there was resistance,” explained Fraser, as “there is an inherent risk of someone getting bumped and bruised, and this does happen as we do allow participants to exert as much energy and effort they feel comfortable with.” There have not been any serious injuries reported thus far, and both trainers and students appear happy with progress made in this training.

This is a defence program — the instructors hope that students never have to use the techniques they learn at the training, but they have faith their students leave the course well-prepared.

“I believe that the more tools a person has to defend themselves and the opportunities to practice those tools, the more confident they become in their own abilities should they need to defend themselves,” said Thorp.

The program will continue in Walker Complex until mid-March; those interested can register with Recreation Services.

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