The Ohio University Police Department will kick off a four-week Rape Aggression Defense course for OU’s female students, staff and faculty, starting Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m.
The free course will provide participants with information and tactics that could be useful for various types of threatening encounters against women.
The course is only offered to women, due to most reports of sexual assault, rape and abductions occurring in situations in which a man targets a woman, Instructor Brandon King said. In the past, OUPD provided a course for men but is not offering one at this time due to a lack of instructors.
“The last thing we want is for men to come into the class and then make the women feel uncomfortable because they want to learn techniques that could surprise an attacker to make an intelligent escape,” King said.
King said the course consists of four sessions, each a week apart, starting on Tuesday and continuing through Sept. 27.
The first session, which will last three hours, will be held in an interactive classroom setting. Instructors will discuss safety tips people typically don’t think about, Instructor Gracie Postlethwait said.
“We teach risk awareness, risk reduction, risk recognition and risk avoidance strategies because self-defense is about 90% education,” King said.
Many people carry self-defense items but aren’t always prepared to use them, Postlethwait said. The topic participants will learn about during the first session will be how to properly use items, such as stun guns and sprays.
“We teach you risk-reduction strategies (and) things to look for,” Instructor Jennifer Davies said.
Participants will be informed about potential hazards and how to properly react to them. Davies said it is better to take a few extra steps in a public area than to walk alone down a dark alley.
The last three sessions will focus on physical skills. Participants will have the option of whether to partake in the defense strategies or only observe them. The instructors will go over different types of self-defense moves and configurations for striking and kicking. The class will start out basic before instructors teach more intricate techniques as the sessions continue.
At the end of the course, participants will receive a manual that each instructor has signed, which will allow the attendees to participate in any Rape Aggression Defense course in the country, free of charge.
“We encourage [participating] because it’s a really supportive, encouraging environment to try out these kinds of techniques,” Postlethwait said. “Everyone cheers each other on and it’s just a really fun atmosphere.”
At the end of the last session, participants are asked to fill out a course and instructor evaluation form. The instructors take the feedback and if there is something to work on, they make changes. Davies said throughout her 24 years of teaching the course, they have always received great feedback.
Postlethwait said whether it’s at fests or football games, past participants often say hello to the instructors and talk about their experiences from the course.
Currently, OUPD has not scheduled a course for the Spring Semester, but if women show interest in taking the course, more sessions will be planned, King said.
“It’s a really cool environment,” said Postlethwait. “Watching people’s confidence levels go up as the scenarios go on … by the third scenario, it’s a totally different person from the very first class.”