“One in six Florida women has been sexually assaulted,” New College of Florida and University of South Florida Manatee (USFM) victim advocate and RAD instructor Concetta Hollinger explained to a diverse group of female-bodied students who gathered at the New College of Florida Sudakoff Center this past weekend to participate in the Rape and Aggression Defense (RAD) class hosted by the Campus Police and the Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC).
“For the RAD basic for women, if you are living as a woman and consider yourself a woman you are welcome to come to this class,” New College of Florida and University of Sarasota Florida Manatee campus police officer and RAD instructor Jennifer Andreoli said. “We can also accommodate students who [identify as non-binary].”
The RAD basic physical defense program includes lectures, discussions and lessons in self defense techniques for women of all ages and varying physical abilities.
The free program held on Feb. 22 and 23 at NCF was open to the larger Sarasota community, but college students were given priority.
“With the age of vulnerability being the college-aged community, it was a perfect mix to bring [this class] to [the NCF] campus,” Hollinger said.
According to the RAD website, “R.A.D. Systems balances the needs of women to acquire self defense education in a relatively short period of time, with the life-long commitment required for physical skill mastery.”
Over 11,000 instructors have trained more than 900,000 women, since the program’s creation.
Lawrence N. Nadeau was a United States Marine and served as a police officer in the Virginia State University Police System for five years, and in 1989, he founded RAD Systems. RAD-trained instructors teach classes at colleges, universities and municipal law enforcement agencies. After attending one session, students are welcome to go to any future classes free of charge.
The National Academy of Defense Education, the National Self- Defense Institute (NSDI) and Redman Training Gear have all endorsed the RAD program. RAD is also the only self-defense program to be endorsed by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA).
“By teaching [self-defense] it is in no way implied that you must use these techniques or you must do these things if you are attacked,” New College of Florida and University of Sarasota Florida Manatee Campus Police Officer and RAD instructor Caswell Coley said. “We are providing students with a viable option regarding self-defense.”
“I am in real estate, and there are a lot of dangerous situations,” Gail Cardillo (53) said.
Cardillo explained that she is often in vacant houses with strangers and that anyone is capable of calling her and setting up a private house showing. She wanted to attend a RAD class in case she is ever attacked while working.
The instructors repeated that the techniques taught in the RAD class were effective, easily memorized with practice and could be done by the general public.
“[The techniques] are extremely effective when utilized, but not anything that is above the general ability of anyone,” Caswell said.
Empowerment was also a concept stressed by the instructors. They wanted the students to believe that they could be levelheaded and fight to stop an aggressor, but they also wanted them to know that victims were never to blame for sexual assault or aggressive behavior.
“I think self-defense is really empowering and a lot of the times it is looked at as disempowering,” Hollinger said. “For me it’s about helping to teach people the empowerment process behind self-defense.”
The classes were six hours each and the second day included simulation of aggressive situations. This gave the women an opportunity to practice what they had learned and apply it in a safe, but realistic situation.
“In high school I dated a college football player that I didn’t know,” Nanci Grady (63) said. “He took me to his apartment and I was very overpowered and frightened … I wish I had known then what I know now.”
Although there are RAD classes for men, children and the elderly NCF does not host them due to lack of funds. The Campus Police and the CWC have been offering the class for a year and a half. They usually host about two RAD sessions per semester.
“I pride myself in being cautious and aware of my surroundings,” second-year Rachel Kerr said. “After this [RAD] class, I feel more empowered and confident that I could protect myself in a dangerous situation.”
The next RAD class for women is tentatively scheduled for this summer and there will be another class offered next fall. To learn more about RAD classes, visit www.rad-systems.com. For information on up coming NCF campus sessions, visit www.ncf.edu/rad or call the campus at (941)487-4210.