UTPD offers women’s self defense classes

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UTPD officer Ashley Griffin leads a Rape Aggression Defense session at the Frank Erwin Center Monday afternoon. RAD is holding these sessions for the next two weeks in order to empower women with defense strategies against potential harassers.

Photo Credit: Jorge Corona | Daily Texan Staff

Out of the one in 12 college males who have committed a sexual assault, 84 percent did not think it was rape, said UT police officer Ashley Griffin during a women’s defense class Monday.

According to the website of Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, an organization dedicated to educating the public about sexual assault and finding counseling for victims, a sexual assault is committed in the U.S. every two minutes.

The Rape Aggression Defense System course is a four-day course that teaches women how to defend themselves in potentially life-threatening situations.

Sergeant Laura Davis of UT Police Department said the fourth day of the course is the most important because students put what they’ve learned to practice during an optional simulation test.

“I feel strongly about people doing the simulation,” Davis said. “I believe the biggest learning curves in the program [come] because you get to put into effect the physical techniques that we teach.”

Davis said it is important for women to try to stay in a public, well environment to increase their safety.

“If you’re being attacked you want to be able to yell loud enough that people around you are going to hear and be able to help out,” Davis said.

Davis said that students should be careful when using the defensive moves on a significant other.

“With the techniques we use, you are going to escalate a situation in relationship violence,” Davis said. “It’s not something we recommend in dating relationships where you’re not ready to leave and not go back to this person.”

Davis said that women of any size can learn to defend themselves.

“I believe anybody can stand up to somebody if they want to,” Davis said. “If this is between you and surviving, you would be surprised at what you can do.”

Griffin has been a RAD instructor for two years and finds the course an invaluable asset to fighting sexual assault.

“I think [RAD] is extremely valuable because the course can teach you a lot about prevention, but then it [also] teaches you basic self defense,” Griffin said.

RAINN’s website says one in six American women will be the victim of a sexual assault. The RAD class taught said 85 percent of victims know their attacker.

“When you go into the simulation the male police officers wear padded suits,” Griffin said. “When they come out the women are timid, but after they go through the simulation they are confident, empowered and believe in themselves.”

Nursing sophomore Lauren Larkin heard about RAD at Wellfest and registered.

“I also went to another self-defense class that was one day last summer,” Larkin said. “I enjoyed that one and thought [RAD] might be even more useful because it’s four days.”

Griffin said that it’s not too late for women who still want to attend RAD, and those interested should show up at the Frank Erwin Center’s south gate at 5:45 p.m. today. Anyone interested can contact her at amkeene@mail.utexas.edu or call police communication supervisor Robin Gillespie at (512) 471-4441 for more information.

Printed on September 27, 2011 as: Course teaches sexual assault defense