CSUF University Police teach students self defense in an attempt curb campus sexual assault
In an attempt to combat the dangers of rape and sexual assault on campus, Cal State Fullerton University Police officers are teaching students self-defense tactics for real instances of danger. The Rape Aggression Defense class, or RAD, is held at the Student Recreation Center and is a 3-day 12 hour program held once a semester by nationally certified instructors.
Officer Katie Cappuccio
With a little over six years under her belt as a RAD instructor, Officer Katie Cappuccio continues to teach the classes with intensity.
As a child, she didn’t have any type of self-defense training and preferred cheerleading and ballet over karate and martial arts. Her parents told her about “stranger danger,” but she didn’t know how to defend herself if a stranger tried to kidnap her, Cappuccio said.
“There are so many women that are just naive to any of the concepts, or naive to the fact that by coming and living on campus you are more vulnerable, and statistics show that (sexual assault) is more likely to occur,” she said.
All of the officers have stories and examples to back up why they are showing students how to defend themselves. The ultimate goal is to reduce the risk of students becoming victims, Cappuccio said. In their last class, Cappuccio said a woman approached her about concerns she had about the way women are perceived in society.
“There is this unspoken rule that if a man tries to ask you on a date or puts his arm around you, and says ‘Can I buy you a drink,’ that we’re supposed to allow these things to happen, because we don’t want to be conceived as being rude or mean,” she said.
Cappuccio hopes women will become aware of different self-defense techniques. She said there are many skills to be learned in this course, like how women carry themselves on a daily basis and their awareness of surroundings when walking to and from a campus parking lot.
“Thinking back on my past and the situations that I’ve found myself in, I think if I had the skills of the women who take this class after completion, I maybe wouldn’t have ended up in some of these incidents or situations that I found myself in,” Cappuccio said.
Cpl. Hoang Lequang
Cpl. Hoang Lequang has been an officer for 17 years and a RAD instructor for seven.
“We have a K-9 unit, we have bike patrol, we have motor, we have SWAT, but believe it or not, this might sound crazy, but I choose this one,” Lequang said.
Before completing his national certification to become a RAD instructor, Lequang said he thought, “A woman can easily defend herself, push back or say no.”
It wasn’t until a scenario exercise during his training that Lequang said his perspective changed. He was told to walk into a room with his eyes closed and lay down while multiple men held him against the floor.
“It wasn’t until they said, ‘Okay, open your eyes and get up,’ that I felt completely hopeless … I couldn’t move and right then and there, it hit me, that this is what they wanted to assimilate,’” Lequang said.
Lequang said he has now dedicated himself to educating as many women as he can on self-defense.
“On the last day, we dress up in full pads and they beat us up,” Lequang said. “I had to take six advil because these girls were hitting me so hard.”
Officer Jose Rosales
Officer Jose Rosales became an instructor for RAD over seven years ago when he began to see a trend of women being sexaully assaulted in his career as a police officer and detective.
Rosales also has a lot of women in his family and said he would want his daughter to be able to defend herself if necessary.
“It’s not that they can’t do it, it’s that they don’t have anyone to show them,” Rosales said.
The instructors have also begun RAD workshops, a condensed version of the program, to get the word out. Rosales said throughout the three days of RAD classes he sees the women’s confidence levels increase dramatically.
“It’s really just about empowering them,” Rosales said.