Public Safety Sheds Light on Rape Assault Defense Program – The Lafayette
As Sexual Assault Awareness Month draws to a close at the end of April, the Lafayette Department of Public Safety is eager to draw students’ attention to a year-round support resource: their self-defense training programs. .
According to PSAFE website, a variety of training programs are available upon request for the community, ranging from “Spring Break Tips” to “Active Shooter Training”. One such option available is self-defense training tailored for women called the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program.
According to FDR website, the program “is the largest network of its kind with more than 11,000 instructors receiving training on our systems to date.” RAD has trained over 900,000 women since the program began in 1989.
Sergeant Anthony Gallagher is one of two PSAFE employees certified to deliver RAD training, alongside Officer Cathy Snyder.
Gallagher, in her tenth year working with Lafayette, sought certification in 2003 because the program “provided viable options for women.”
Gallagher said the training primarily focuses on evasive options and honing gross motor skills like punching or kicking, offering strategies for women of any skill level.
Fully padded “aggressor suits” with helmets are used to facilitate these simulations, which former participants also had the opportunity to videotape. Gallagher explained that in previous trainings, groups have played these videos over pizza, giving Gallagher and the participant a chance to provide feedback or self-criticize their implementation of the tactics provided in the training.
The program is offered as 9 or 12 hour courses.
“The difference between the two is that one has a simulation and the other doesn’t,” Gallagher said. “What you miss with the extra three [hours] is to actually put the training into practice by putting it into scenarios.
Katy Bednarsky, Lafayette’s first Student Advocacy and Prevention Coordinator and New Jersey Certified Social Workerhad the good fortune to participate in an RAD self-defense program at his undergraduate institution, The College of New Jersey.
“Any program where a student leaves campus feeling more empowered or safer is helpful,” she wrote in an email.
She added that these programs are helpful, but not in isolation, and applauded Lafayette for devoting resources to prevention in other areas.
“A challenge that can arise when it comes to self-defense programs, more generally, is when they are the only type of prevention strategy or support resource offered (this is obviously not the case here in Lafayette). )”, Bednarsky wrote. “That can sometimes lead to a cycle, from what I’ve seen, of self-blame loops after an incident has happened.”
Bednarsky made sure to point out that RAD is just one tool the school can use to protect people from assault.
“Thanks to the collaboration that exists between departments, ARD is not offered in a vacuum, but serves as an effective tool within a larger vision of prevention work,” she wrote.
Gallagher said he has previously held hour-and-a-half workshops with organizations, such as the women’s lacrosse team and the former Tri-Delta sorority, to show them what the RAD program entails and encourage the attendance at nine to 12 – one hour lessons. His workshops incorporated defensive tactics and information on “the autonomic nervous system, sympathetic parasympathetic nervous system, some of the triggers that activate it when involved in [a] possible combat-type situation.
Although Gallagher explained that a full RAD curriculum has not been administered to students since before the pandemic, interest exists among student groups on campus.
Anya Elder ’23, president of Delta Gamma, recalled her own attendance at a high school self-defense class as a positive experience. She described it as a “strangely formative” and “emotional” experience that left her with new insights both “physically and mentally”.
“For the women in our organizations who are survivors or… their friends are survivors, or [who] I just want to feel safer…I think that would be great,” Elder said.
She said offering the program at the Pan-Hellenic level could be a great bonding opportunity for sorority members who, according to recent studies, are much more likely to engage in non-consensual sexual touching than their unaffiliated peers.
Meyer and Gallagher expressed the hope that more students Contact them attend one of their programs in the upcoming academic year as campus life continues to pick up in full swing.
“I think, why not?” said the Elder. “Why not have this baggage? Why not have this instinct? I think it could be fun, I think it could be educational.