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Police departments offer free self-defense class for women
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Based on the adage of knowledge is power, the Turlock and California State University, Stanislaus police departments are embarking on a campaign to teach women the skills to fend off sexual assaults.
The two police departments are working together to provide Rape Aggression Defense, or R.A.D. training to the women of Turlock. The free course is open to women only and the first session will be taught over a one-week period beginning April 23.
The R.A.D. Systems Basic Physical Defense is a program designed to help women overcome the effects of sexual harassment and sexual violence by teaching assertiveness, awareness, risk reduction, risk recognition, avoidance and physical defense strategies.
“Really, what it boils down to is that the course teaches skills and techniques that a woman can use if they’re attacked,” said Turlock Police Officer Joey Mercado, one of the nationally certified R.A.D. instructors who will lead the course.
Mercado previously taught the course in Turlock in the late 1990s, but low attendance forced an early end to the program. Noticing an uptick in sexual assault reports, Mercado said the police department felt the time was right to bring the program back. According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network’s latest statistics, one out of every six American women have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. College age women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other age group.
“The bulk of the course is teaching women ways to prevent and minimize the possibility of an attack,” Mercado said.
The R.A.D. training system was established in 1989 with the goal of teaching women easy to learn, retain and put to use skills that could benefit them in the event of a sexual assault. Since its inception, more than 250,000 women have gone through the training.
The course starts with developing the skills that focus on awareness, prevention, and risk reduction and avoidance. From there it moves on to the hands-on defense training. It is not a martial arts class. The program is designed for the average woman and no specific skills are needed. Finally, the women can put their new skills to use in practice scenarios that have them confronting an attacker.
The police department is hoping to offer the course several times through the year, with the first launching in April, which also happens to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The first class is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 23 and CSU Stanislaus South Dining Hall. The next two classes will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 24 and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 30, both of which will be in the university SRC Aerobics Room.
The course is free and open to all women. Participants under the age of 18 years should be accompanied by an adult female. Registration is required and is on a first come first serve basis. To register call Crime Prevention Officer Taryn Weatherford at 656-3153 or e-mail
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.