Empowerment is RAD

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Graphic by Spencer Light | The Broadside (Contact: slight@cocc.edu)

By Emma Kaohi | The Broadside (Contact: ekaohi@cocc.edu)

Empowered, entrusted,  entitled: these are all words that women should be more than confident using. Walking, or should I say running, out of Central Oregon Community College’s Rape Aggression Defense course in full defensive pads, victorious in my staged yet intense attack situation, felt pretty darn good.

The Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) course is a two-day, one-credit course offered once per term, exclusively to women, with an aim to provide students the tools and defensive maneuvers needed for a safer future. The class is instructed by Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Kathy McCabe, as well as Bend Police Department’s Lieutenant Brian Beekman, Adam Steele, and Patty Smith. McCabe first brought this course up to administration after her daughter had taken it at the University of Oregon and raved about the skills learned, pushing her to bring it to COCC.

“My whole mission and purpose is to make you feel more empowered when you leave,” said McCabe. “I don’t want you to be the same person as when you came in. I think I’ve seen that in every class, someone who is timid and quiet just starts to develop and tap into their own strength, and by the time they leave I think they’re a whole different person. As long as those woman come in and give me everything they’ve got, I’m very happy with the outcomes.”

On Friday night, McCabe began the course with a PowerPoint on RAD’s mission, as well as an overview on what students would be learning in the physical portion of the course. Defensive techniques such as basic principles of defense, weapons on your body and vulnerable locations were also introduced.

Following the PowerPoint, the class was moved to a large room where we could have the space to move around, and  we began to learn voice control and basic stances as a stepping-stone to the more advanced techniques we would be learning.

McCabe explained the five levels of volume your voice can muster and expected us all to be at a level five, which was a bit of an oversight, as most of us cocooned ourselves into the corner at the thought of having to scream in front of a room full of strangers.

However, once the energy and comradery in the room was heightened by an extremely enthusiastic McCabe, voices became louder and in turn, our stances became stronger.  

“I felt very comfortable with the class. Going in, I was very nervous and I didn’t know anyone, but just with one class with all of the girls and the energy made me so excited to continue to learn more,” first-year student Teal Reay said.

By the end of the night, friendships were made even though our confidence levels were still only on simmer, but by the end of day two, the confidence had been heightened to a rapid boil.

The following day left me sore and perhaps a little bruised, but the strength and authority that I gained was well worth the small amounts of pain. Starting with a warm up, we moved right into practicing the stances and voice control we had learned the night before. After the warm-up and review, Bend Police Department’s instructors were handed the reigns of the course and padded up as we went over defensive strikes, kicks and other tactics to defend yourself if ever in a risky situation.

“I think it’s very beneficial to learn tactics that can decrease chances [of getting attacked] and help you if you are being attacked. It makes me feel a lot more comfortable walking into a store, or home from work at night and made me think more to be more aware of my surroundings,” Reay explained.

After we had worked through all of the defensive techniques that Bend Police Department’s instructors had us learn, students had the highly-encouraged option to dress in head-to-toe padded gear and go through a staged situation. In the situation, only the instructors and the individual are in the room as the class waits in another room suiting each other up. Once someone was suited up, one of Bend Police Department’s officers pretended to be the aggressor and the “victim” was to fight them off using the new techniques learned.

Although it was staged, the strength felt while delivering strikes and blows was surely real. As you run out of the room following the beat-down given to the aggressor, McCabe, Beekman, Steele and Smith can be heard cheering you on (if you can hear through the thick padding of the headgear). Confidence radiated through the smiles of the women who walked back into the room following their situation, and pride radiated off of the instructors as they were sure we could handle ourselves in the given situation.

“I do feel confident now that I completed the course, I think that it made me feel empowered because I know if needed I can defend myself and I can also pass my knowledge on to my friends and my younger family members,” said Reay.

“What I see the biggest joy in is watching someone grow and watching them feel and walk out of the course saying ‘not today, not ever,’ and boy do I get goosebumps,” McCabe said.

I can confidently say, “not today, not ever,” because of the teachings in this course, and because of that I highly encourage women to take this empowering course. Due to the close contact and safety of students, there are only 15 seats available. Prior to registering, instructor approval is required. For more information regarding the Rape Aggression Defense course, contact instructor Kathy McCabe at kmccabe@cocc.edu. ■

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