The Trinity University Police Department sponsored a Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Systems class this past week, offering female students, faculty and staff a free, three-day course that taught the participants how to defend themselves in high-risk situations.

The course is split into three different sections—two classroom portions and one hands on training simulation.

“During the classroom portion, we provide a lot of the do’s and don’ts of being on campus and being away from home, the typical, ‘lock your doors and make sure you are aware of your surroundings, especially going out,’” said Laura Hernandez, RAD instructor and corporal investigator for TUPD. “It also educates the students on how to be a little bit more aware of her surroundings and a bit more independent.”

Hernandez has been teaching RAD for nearly two decades. The class primarily teaches the students how to be aware of and get away from an attacker rather than trying to fight back.

“Awareness is the main point,” Hernandez said. “We are not teaching the students how to fight. I believe that every woman should fight, but we are not here to teach the students how to fight. We are here to teach them how to stun and run.”

The course teaches students how to react properly to a multitude of dangerous situations in order to be prepared for anything, from assault to abduction.

“Most of us don’t know what to do in a dangerous situation and we kick, flail and basically end up doing all the wrong things,” said sophomore Nipuni Gomes. “This course teaches us how not to do that and how to be prepared, to have a plan and how to react accordingly to every situation. We were taught how to react if someone chokes us, grabs us from behind, grabs our wrists, if they try to force us into a vehicle, and so this course is a great way to not freeze and to know what to do in any given situation.”

A major topic covered in the course is how to get away from an abductor.

“One of the main things that we focus on is how to prevent abduction, what to do if they are abducted and some techniques,” said Sylvia Villarreal, RAD instructor and telecommunications operator supervisor for TUPD. “We teach them how to use their voice and how to use the various parts of their bodies as defense mechanisms to be able to get out of situations.”

The simulation portion of the course lets the students utilize all the techniques taught during the classroom portion.

“The students get to actually attack their aggressor. Hopefully they never have to use any of these techniques, but it gives them the opportunity to know what it feels like to be in a situation where you may have one, two, three or more attackers and be able to get out of there,” said Villarreal. “It just builds confidence.”

Participants of the course agreed that confidence plays a major role in learning how to get away from an attacker.

“I think the best part of the course is that it gives you confidence,” said Alex Holler, sophomore. “Not even just the skills that it teaches you, but the best part is the confidence because that will enable you to scare someone off. If you walk with confidence and you can tell someone off with your voice, that is the best weapon you have.”

One factor of the course that differentiates RAD from other self-defense courses is that this particular one also teaches the students how to be good witnesses.

“If a traumatic event happens, I am hoping that what the student takes away from this course is awareness and definitely how to be a good witness so that first responders will be able to get all the valuable information such as clothing, height and smells,” Hernandez said. “This is what the first responders will need in order to catch the attacker.”

The course is currently only offered for women but one long-term goal is to add a RAD class for men, according to Hernandez.

Another goal is to increase the enrollment of studentsand reach more women.

“I’d like to see more women join the class. My goal is to eventually have this RAD program be included in one of the P.E. classes as a credit hour. It’s a fun class and it’s a very important class, and you can never have too much self-defense,” Villarreal said. “I would just like to see more women get involved, jump on board and take the class.”

The next course will be offered Oct. 13-15