According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women will be raped in their lives. The Center also estimates that more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.
According to the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, there were 13 reported sexual assaults on UNC Charlotte's campus in 2018. In 2017, that number was only six.
UNC Charlotte has created a program to address this issue by offering the Rape Agression Defense Program (R.A.D), a free self-defense program to teach students how to protect themselves.
The program is open to all female students as well as faculty/staff of UNC Charlotte. Individuals who are not affiliated with UNC Charlotte must receive approval from the department prior to registering for a class.
“I think it is important for all students to be educated on all forms of sexual and interpersonal violence because it can happen to anyone,” a R.A.D instructor said. “The things I hear the most from people who have gone through a self-defense course is that they feel more confident, empowered and prepared.”
Typical class sizes range between 10-15 women, but a minimum of 5 students, faculty and/or staff is required in order for class to be held.
The R.A.D program typically starts with a lecture where instructors give a presentation that includes scenarios and what one should do if they encounter a dangerous situation. These scenarios may include if one is walking alone at night and is approached by someone who makes them feel unsafe, or if, out of nowhere, one is attacked by an individual. This segment is intended to encourage attendees to think about situations they may not have thought about before.
For example, one tip given by R.A.D instructors during the presentation is to make sure you have your car keys in your hand when walking to your car. That way if you end up in an undesirable situation, you have options such as pressing the car alarm button or even using the keys as a weapon if needed.
The next portion of the class consists of learning defensive measures and moves. After learning the defense measures, participants then take part in the simulation where they practice how to defend themselves and resist the attacker.
At the end of the class, participants receive a certificate of completion.
“Most of what we teach in R.A.D is about situational awareness,” said an instructor. “It's about knowing your options. I think this program helps people think about what they could do in a variety of scenarios. Being able to think through 'what if' scenarios helps me feel more prepared.”
There have been over 7,000 certified R.A.D instructors since its beginnings in 1989 and over 300,000 women have received instruction thus far. In addition, R.A.D is the only self defense program that has ever received endorsement by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA).
R.A.D is continuing to develop and improve and will soon offer classes where participants and instructors will be dressed in full-body padding and be able to actually practice the moves and techniques as they would in a real emergency situation.
Every 73 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Spreading awareness about how to protect oneself is crucial and R.A.D recognizes that.
“I feel like all students should be offered information regarding self defense,” said an instructor. “It is something we all need to know about and it is very necessary in our world today.”
For more information and on how to register for a class, visit https://police.uncc.edu/community/rad-rape-aggression-defense.
*The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24 hours a day. Call 1-800-656-4673.