Women practice fending off attackers


When someone says the word self-defense, the first image that comes to mind for many is a women repeatedly kicking a guy in the crotch. 

Twenty female students are learning that self-defense is much more through the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) course offered this semester through the UVM Police Services. It involves using their minds, voices, bodies and skills to stay safe.

Feb. 14 marked the second RAD class, which is offered in four-session courses on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Billings. 

RAD is the largest self-defense program in North America, according to www.uvm.edu/police. RAD has over 2,000 instructors who have trained over 80,000 women in defensive concepts and techniques against various types of assaults. 

Sue Roberts, RAD instructor and UVM Police Services member said that despite only having enough interest for one class last semester, both classes this semester are completely full. 

The first class explained the aspects of awareness: risk reduction, risk avoidance, and developing a mindset to take physical action for self-defense.

During the second class the women practiced elbowing, hitting and punching a life-sized padded red dummy — physical moves they were taught were to be used as a last resort. 

A major aspect of the course is using the voice. As the women carried out their physical moves they repeatedly yelled ‘no,’ or ‘stay back.’

“Everyone should do this,” junior Sam Husband said. “I feel as though it should almost be required of first-year girls, even if it was just offered at orientation.”

A few of the participants said that there have been times throughout their experience at UVM when they have felt unsafe. Generally, these times have been at night or when they have been walking downtown alone, students said.

Senior Carlyn Levy, along with a few other senior girls, expressed her enthusiasm for the class and how she wished shehad taken it sooner. “I’m a senior and this is four years overdue,” Levy said. 

William Soiss, RAD instructor and UVM Police Services member, said that the UVM campus is safer than most. UVM addresses lighting and safety as much as possible, and there are fast police responses, Soiss said. 

“We are being as proactive as we can be,” he said.

The last two sessions of the class will focus on more self-defense techniques and a simulation that will consist of scenarios that allow the students to use their skills.

Participants expressed excitement for the last session of the class, when they would get to use the techniques that they had learned. During this class, Soiss, along with another UVM Police Services member, will dress in a padded suit in order to simulate real attacks. 

Soiss said current female students should always have a plan. He told students to know where they are going and always let people know where they are.  

Common sense is the most important thing: stick to well-lit areas and don’t walk home at night alone, Soiss said.

“The most important thing is for everyone to get home safe,” he said.