Hundreds of women have been empowered with life-saving self-defense tactics and techniques taught during a free Rape Aggression Defense program at Ferris State University.
When the class is offered again this fall, participants will be using new equipment purchased with a $7,200 grant awarded to the university’s Department of Public Safety by The Ferris Foundation. Workout pads, floor mats and other gear will replace aging, worn-out equipment used since the program began at Ferris in 1999, said Sgt. James Wing, a certified R.A.D. instructor.
“This program makes you confident and gives you skills to defend yourself if you’re ever in a dangerous situation,” Wing said. “You are not powerless.”
Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, and college-age women are four times more likely to be a victim, according to statistics provided by the National Crime Clock.
The majority of women who take the class are Ferris students and Big Rapids-area residents, but groups from other universities where the program isn’t offered, including Michigan State and Central Michigan, also have enrolled.
At least two graduates of the Ferris class are what Wing called “success stories.”
“One student was coming out of a mall, and a man tried to pull her into his car,” Wing said. “She used techniques she learned in the class to defend herself and got away. This class teaches you how not to be a victim.”
Another student who had been sexually assaulted was participating in a simulation exercise with an instructor acting as an aggressor when she became panicked, Wing said.
“We were able to bring this person to live action,” he said.
The 12-hour course meets once a week for three weeks. Attendance at all sessions is required, because training is progressive.
The course begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance, and progresses to the basics of hands-on defense training. On the final day of class, students and instructors don special equipment to prevent injury during training scenarios.
All students are issued a R.A.D. manual for reference and a lifetime free-return and practice policy, good anywhere the program is offered.
“It’s an opportunity to remain confident and fresh on the skills,” Wing said.
The next R.A.D. classes are 1 to 6 p.m. Sept. 29-30 during fall semester and Feb. 9-10 during spring semester.
To sign up, call Ferris’ Department of Public Safety at (231) 591-5000 or stop by the office at 1319 Cramer Circle. The office is open 24 hours a day.