Empowered to Survive...RAD!
Somewhere in the U.S. a woman is raped or sexually assaulted every 2 minutes according to the Florida Department of Health.
That's why the Alachua County Sheriff's Office offers a free rape defense course for women called RAD (Rape Aggression Defense).
The RAD class teaches women a proactive strategy to avoid and if necessary, to survive an attack.
Lead RAD Instructor, Deputy Shawn Pagel said, "I can survive, I will survive and I will escape."
That's the goal of Susan and Kimberly Washington of Newberry.
Susan Washington said, "I'm not as mobile as I used to be and I wanted to be able to defend myself."
Kimberly Washington said, "When I'm walking to church I go by myself, so my mom wanted me to have that special defense and she wanted me to be prepared in case anything happened."
The mission of RAD is simple. Pagel said, "All women want to defend against rape aggression...they just don't always know how to do it. So we teach women that you have the ability. It doesn't matter what's your size, what's your age, what your strength is because it's all about body mechanics."
The 12 hour class, taught over 3 nights, teaches each RAD grad a unique personal defense strategy. It starts with prevention techniques and learning your own personal weapons.
Pagel said, "Your voice is your #1 personal weapon."
The way women use their voice to ward off an attack, call for help, or channel energy during a fight is crucial. The next step is to learn the moves that will best use each woman's strength and help them to escape.
Pagel said, "We actually teach them the physical moves on how to defend themselves. When it comes to punching somebody in the face, or kneeing a guy in the groin or how to get out of being grabbed from behind."
After being trained in defense techniques, the women put what they've learned to the test during simulations designed to make sure that you can react to a surprise attack.
Pagel said, "It's gonna get their adrenaline up, which get's the blood pressure up and it actually shows them what it feels like to be attacked and then respond to it."
The Washington's said the class makes them feel prepared to defend themselves. Kimberly Washington said, "I'm smarter, I'm more aware of my surroundings and it's better...honestly, I loved it. And if you're too shy to go, then just bring a friend along, make it more comfortable for you." Susan Washington, "It's 12 hours that could probably save your life."
The next free RAD class will be offered in January. For more information go to http://alachuasheriff.org/.
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