Cal State Fullerton hosted a three-day course for women focusing on techniques to avoid and defend against rape and unwanted sexual aggression last week.
The Rape and Aggression Defense course held over the weekend and covered topics ranging from warning signs of danger, date rape and defensive techniques to break and run from an aggressor.
RAD has trained over 900,000 women since 1989. Instructors teach at various colleges and universities around the world.
This is the ninth consecutive year University Police have hosted RAD. The program was started in order to assist women with assault and rape situations, said University Police Cpl. Iris Cortes-Valle, who directs the university’s RAD program.
Prevention was discussed during the course, including alcohol safety. Tips included looking out for the alcohol intake of friends while out at a party or bar, keeping watch on drinks to avoid being drugged and bringing extra money in case a taxi is needed.
Keeping up with vehicle maintenance is also an important way to avoid ending up in unwanted situations, according to Cortes-Valle. Checking oil, maintaining tires and always having enough gas are good ways to take responsibility of your own safety, she said.
Pepper spray may also be an effective defense, but Cortes-Valle warns that in some cases it may be used against the victim depending on wind conditions and if the attacker is able to take it away.
Attackers look for victims who have a “vulnerable appeal,” Cortes-Valle said. Being distracted by a phone, carrying a lot of items and not having car keys out are all qualities an attacker looks for. “No one asks to be raped, ever,” she said, “but we ask to please not make yourself a good victim.”
Maintaining strong body language while walking to your car is also important, she said.
The university has maintained a relatively safe campus. According to the Jeanne Clery Campus Crime Statistics, the latest sexual offenses occurred in 2010 when four forcible sexual offenses were reported. However, according to Rosalina Camacho, coordinator of the Women’s Cultural Resource Center, most offenses happen off campus.
According to RAD, the average rape victim is a college student who knows her attacker.
Ex-boyfriends, friends at a party or even someone from a class may feel like they can take unwanted liberties, according to Camacho.
“This idea that it’s a stranger all the time is usually not the case,” she said.
The women who participated in the class were taught how to use their voices and maintain assertiveness if they are attacked.
Physical techniques like how to make a fist correctly, defensive stances and when to use physical force were also taught.
“It’s empowerment,” Betty Taylor, from Damsel in Defense, said. “The men are totally taken off guard, they have no idea these women are going to step up.”
At the end of the class, participants are given different circumstances they may be attacked. Being grabbed from behind at an ATM and being confronted by multiple men while walking alone were among the scenarios.
Participants were forced to think quickly to use the best techniques to break and run. University Police Cpls. Hoang LeQuang and Jose Rosales dressed in fully padded suits, known as “Redmen,” in order to withstand the various punches and kicks.
“You have to have it in your head every day you wake up, ‘I am going to survive,’” Rosales said. “Are you going to be attacked every day? No. Maybe you’ll go 20 years and nothing will happen, but it could be that one chance.”
At the end of the program, most participants agreed that they felt more prepared and confident if they are attacked.
“My experience with this class was pretty much unexplainable,” Katie Cornejo, a fourth year business major, said. “I’m going to tell every female I know to take this class.”
RAD is offered to all women and may be attended by non-CSUF students.