R.A.D, empowering women through self-defense


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Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 22 million women in the U.S. have been assaulted or raped in their lifetime.


As we come into a new age of the “independent woman”, women are beginning to stand up against assault and violence against them. UIS offers a program called R.A.D that empowers women, and makes sure that they know techniques that can protect them against any type of assault.


“I have found RAD to be profoundly empowering for many of the UIS women who take the class. It’s not simply that the women feel safer or better able to defend themselves. I hear back about all kinds of confidence gained or regained. It is common to hear about lessening of fear overall – such as in public speaking,” said Lynn Otterson, Women’s Center Director.


R.A.D stands for Rape Aggression Defense System. The program composes realistic, self- defense tactics and techniques that a woman can use if an attack occurs.  R.A.D is a comprehensive course for women that teach awareness, prevention, risk reduction, and avoidance, while showing hands-on defense training. R.A.D is the only self-defense course endorsed by the international association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.


Do not mistake R.A.D for a martial arts program. Certified instructors in defense training teach the courses. In addition, the course provides women with a workbook and reference manual. These manuals outline the entire program and communicate continuous personal growth. Every year the program grows in numbers of participants; primarily because of the effectiveness, and simplicity of the tactics that are being taught.


The Rape Aggression Defense System has a mission that is dedicated to teaching women defensive concepts and techniques against multiple styles of assault, by using easy, effective, and efficient self-defense and martial arts procedures. R.A.D provides realistic defense mechanisms and gives women the knowledge to make a cultivated decision about resistance.


“Rape is the most under reported crime – by far. And rape and related crimes of sexual violence are by far more underreported on college campuses than in the larger society. Only about 5 percent of rapes of college students are reported. And, of course, a large number of rapes of college students do not take place on campuses and so, even if reported, are never tracked as university related,” said Otterson.


These statistics are an important reason for having R.A.D classes on college campuses. Teaching women the skills they need to avoid these situations in the first place is key.


R.A.D. works on the premise that a spontaneous violent attack will stimulate a natural desire to resist, on the part of the victim. R.A.D educates women about the flight or fight syndrome, which is a response of how one reacts to threats. It deals with the sympathetic nervous system that regulates stress responses among vertebrates and other organisms.


In addition, the program shows women how to enhance their options for physical defense that are not only sensible, but a necessity if natural resistance is to be effective. In order to be safe in today’s world, a definite course of action is required. A person, especially a woman, should be able to take initiative when an attacker comes. R.A.D gives women options to take control of their own self-defense and psychological well-being.


Once a student has completed the course, she may attend any R.A.D course that the U.S. and Canada offers free of charge. These are skills that should be practiced, as they will follow a woman her whole life, which is why the ability to attend free classes is important.


R.A.D was design for women only. The information the program provides was developed based on the natural movements and abilities of women in order to utilize a women’s ability to defend herself.  The UIS Police Department offers the course on a first come first served basis, but UIS students, staff, and faculty members have first consideration when registering for the class.  If a minor, 17 years or younger, wishes to participate for this course, she must receive permission from a parent or guardian before registering for class.


The courses are offered throughout the year. The classes extend over four weeks, with students meeting one night a week for three hours. For more information, contact the UIS Women’s Center at (217)-206-7173 or email at [email protected].