Rape Agression Defense training helps women fight back

Shae Slaughter

Though safety and security of students is a priority to Grand Valley State University, violence is sometimes unavoidable. As seen at the beginning of the fall 2016 semester, assaults often happen close to or on campus. For that reason, GVSU furthered the “It’s On Us” campaign to include Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) training in an event Monday, Nov. 28 in the Kirkhof Center Pere Marquette Room.

Sexual assault disproportionately affects women, with one in five women versus one in 59 men being raped in their lifetime, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2011 report. Due to statistics such as that, the RAD training and program is targeted to and made for women only.

While defense is a part of normal RAD training, the event focused more on prevention. The GVSU Police Department partnered with the Women’s Center to help create an informative program.

“We really want to focus on education because there are still a lot (of) misconceptions,” said Betsie Schoedel, Violence Against Women Act graduate assistant to the Women’s Center.

The first part of the event was led by GVPD and included discussions about resources for assault victims that are both on and off campus. Sgt. Nate Dornbos, the first presenter, also made sure to share statistics of crimes that are central to GVSU.

“This is kind of the mental portion of RAD,” Dornbos said.

He said many attackers are known by the victim and have no true profile, only potential behaviors.

“We look at who a sexual assault predator is and it’s not some hideous monster you may think of,” Dornbos said. “They’re often charming.”

For that reason, the ability to communicate was also encouraged. Though it might seem to be second nature, saying ‘no’ to advances or yelling while in danger will both help the victim/survivor of assault at the time of the act.

Staying clear of danger and knowing warning signs was something further encouraged by the second presenter, campus security and regional centers staff, Kari Balcom. She encouraged playing smart and knowing of potential threats before taking action is necessary. Part of both the RAD program and life is being both mentally and emotionally prepared.

“If you get that gut feeling that something isn’t right, listen to it,” she said.

As an officer who deals with crimes regularly, Dorbos also further explained the process of reporting assaults on campus and the legal action that follows if an assault was to take place. Though he deals closely with university processes, he also explained the criminal and civil actions that can take place.

“You might think it’s common knowledge, but it’s not unless someone tells you,” he said.

Though prevention was presented as the best form of defense to assault, Balcom also showed attendees some types of self-defense that are especially effective for women. She encouraged those attending to get out of their seats and learn the proper way to punch or kick an attacker if needed.

“Our strength isn’t going to get us out of it. We’ve got to play smart,” she said.

The RAD program is offered in its entirety at GVSU through a one-credit course in PED 100, Self Defense for Women.