OUPD’s next Rape Aggression Defense course begins Sept. 29


The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) states that one in three women have experienced physical violence in their life and one in five have been raped. 

Back in the mid 1990s, Oakland University made progressive steps to protect its student body. They assigned OU Police Department Lieutenant Terry Ross to give a seminar on protecting yourself from becoming a victim of sexual assault.

“My experience was in teaching police officers training,” Ross said. “The seminar was extremely successful and we did some research and that’s where we found the RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) Systems.”

RAD classes began at Oakland in 1995. Since then, Ross and his team of officers have taught close to 6,000 students and community members.

Ross is in charge of selecting OUPD officers to become RAD certified instructors. The current list includes Ross, Detective Collins, Officer Beldo, volunteers Danna Holcom and Crystal Danton, as well as the OU overseer Sergeant Donald Blalock.

“Sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes,” Ross said. “On campus it normally involves alcohol or some sort of drug.”

The RAD program doesn’t focus on martial arts as a form of defense so much as how to avoid and reduce the risk of assault. The four key elements to the program are awareness, recognition, reduction and avoidance.

However, the class isn’t just for prevention. According to Ross, there have been a few women to take the class that had already been victims of sexual assault, and used this class as a stepping stone on the road to recovery.

Director of Counseling at Oakland University Dr. David Schwartz echoed those sentiments.

“The class is designed to be very empowering,” Schwartz said. “After a traumatic event like a sexual assault, anything to gain more power is a positive step.”

Schwartz was given an opportunity to sit in on one of the sessions and was impressed, stating that “it’s a very important component of what our University offers.”

OUPD believes RAD’s 18-hour course is as effective in the self-defense side as well as the support and recovery aspect.

“A lot of self-defense programs bring girls in for a night,” Ross said. “We bring them in and allow them to practice and develop muscle memory.”

“It’s a good tool for students to get to know us without encountering us in uniform,” said Sergeant Blalock, overseer of RAD. “It teaches students to watch out for themselves. Younger students are less experienced to the outside world, less prepared.”

Ross and Blalock were adamant about the fact that sexual assault and crimes of this nature do not cater to any age or gender. The RAD class is exclusively for women, however, the women in attendance vary in age from teens to senior citizens.

“From the start of the class to the end of the class, the amount of confidence these women gain is amazing, that’s why I teach,” Officer Beldo said.

Beldo has been a certified RAD instructor at Oakland for the last three years. The RAD team includes three instructors, each with 10 to 15 years of experience, who ensure that the women in attendance get the best knowledge and experience possible.

The class is a community program that takes place in the West Vandenberg Hall glass cafeteria. It is free to anybody with OU affiliation, otherwise a $35 donation is required.

The next course begins Sept. 29 and there are six sessions in the course. Classes are from 7-10 p.m. Students can find more information and register at www.oakland.edu/police/rad.

The hotline for anyone that needs assistance can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).