R.A.D. Program Teaches Confidence,

Lynn Jenkins, Esq.

For the seventeenth consecutive semester, the UNH Campus Police is offering the Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) program to female undergraduate, graduate, and faculty members.

Under the instruction of Sgt. Kevin Holster, Officer Onoria (“Oni”) Sierra, and civilian Kelly Boyle, UNH women participants in the R.A.D. program are learning basic self-defense to protect themselves and to defend themselves when faced with the threat of violence or when actually involved in a physical confrontation. The explicit mission of the program is to promote the objective: “To develop and enhance the options of self-defense, so they may become viable considerations to the woman who is attacked.” In essence, the program legitimates the woman’s right to defend herself to the upmost of her ability when faced with physical violence.

The program consists of four sessions, each three hours in length. The first session is strictly a lecture on the tenets of the program, emphasizing the right of the female participants to (crudely put) “kick ass” when (not if) an attack occurs. This lecture is supplemented by a detailed, diagramed training manual that guides the participants through the presentation, gives the participants some basic knowledge of legal terms and response limitations, and reinforces the presented material with fill-in-the-blanks.

The next two sessions teach actual self-defense tactics and techniques to the participants, including the use of the hand as a weapon (such as open and closed fists) and the vulnerable body locations (such as eyes, throat, and groin) on an assailant.

The final session is a highly realistic set of attack-defense simulations in which the participants are given the opportunity to use the techniques that they have been taught. The program also encourages at-home practice where roommates, friends, and life-partners feign attacks and the participants respond with the learned self-defense techniques using little or no response force.

Upon conclusion of the program, each participant receives a Certificate of Completion. This certificate is more than just an acknowledgment. It is proof of confidence. It is also a gateway to continued self-defense education in other R.A.D. classes offered throughout the nation.

Although R.A.D. teaches physical self-defense in violent confrontations so that the assault is defused and an avenue of escape is available, a key focus of the program is avoidance. This is the Four Risks (the 4R’s) of Personal Safety: Risk Awareness, Risk Reduction, Risk Recognition, and Risk Avoidance. In summary, these 4R’s encourage the women participants to be constantly aware of their environment and the people who may pose a threat to their safety; to reduce the risks of physical attacks by safeguarding their persons, their homes, and their vehicles; to recognize risk-laden situations at parties and at clubs; and to avoid risk circumstances – thereby reducing the opportunity for attacks. This R.A.D. system, which has a proven national track record of teaching safety and confidence to women facing or neutralizing violence, proves that these 4R’s are 90% of self-defense education. Thus, R.A.D. debunks the myth that women are powerless against men, are helpless in violent encounters, and are best served by immediately submitting to their attackers.

Sgt. Holster along with Officer Mark Sheppard can be credited with starting the R.A.D. program on campus in 2003. Sgt. Holster, who is a certified police officer, states: “UNH offers the program to raise awareness of sexual assault and to offer students an introduction to self-defense in a judgment-free learning environment.”

The University supports this proactive initiative to educate female students on sexual assault and personal safety by providing space, equipment, and training manuals and through financial assistance. It also offers the R.A.D. program for credit through the criminal justice department. While recognizing that participation is a personal choice, Sgt. Holster encourages all UNH women to take advantage of the program. “I believe the program is empowering to women,” he states. “I enjoy teaching the program and watching the students’ progress each week. Many start the class with no prior self-defense training. The first time they punch a pad in training they may be timid, but by the end of the course they defend themselves from an attacker with confidence.”

Recognizing that UNH women aged 18 through 28 often go out for entertainment at local clubs, R.A.D. emphasizes common sense practices to promote personal safety in public. It focuses on abduction and escape, impaired judgment due to drug and alcohol use, reduced capacity or consent caused by unknowingly ingesting narcotics like roofies, special-k, and ecstasy, safe travel to and from nightclubs, and the fallacy of the date rape mentality. As taught in the program, Sgt. Holster gives these instructions for safe clubbing.

•Stay with your friends.

•Make sure you go out as a group and come home as a group.

•Watch out for each other.

•Keep an eye on your drink.

•Do not accept drinks from strangers that you did not watch the bartender make.

•Do not leave your drink unattended.

•Trust your instincts. If you think something is not right, then it probably is not.

•Make good choices.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that about 300,000 women are raped each year in the United States. The R.A.D. program gives UNH women a choice. UNH women can be part of that statistic by being another target of stranger, acquaintance, or domestic rape. Or UNH women can develop the confidence – the R.A.D. mindset – that they are to be treated with dignity and with respect, that they are entitled to security in their persons, in their property, and in public. These UNH women resolve not to be another victim. They have made the conscious, thoughtful, skilled decision to resist. They will meet force with force to confidently stop the attack, to defend, in order to retreat to safety. As keynoted by Sgt. Holster, they have empowered themselves.

For more information about the R.A.D. program, contact Sgt. Kevin Holster at [email protected] or Officer Onoria Sierra at [email protected]. For more information about the UNH Campus Police, visit its webpage at http://www.newhaven.edu/student-life/3950/.