Defense against rape program to start

The Santa Monica College Police Department will host a new self-defense workshop against sexual aggression at SMC that will teach women how to defend themselves against attackers.

The workshop, called the Rape Aggression Defense Program, lasts 12 sessions and educates women about the risk reduction of rape and attack prevention, in addition to providing them with self-defense techniques, as stated on the program's website.

"We're not here to teach them how to punch [attackers] until they're completely done; we provide them with the ability to escape," said SMCPD officer Summer Samano, leader and future coach of the RAD workshop at SMC.

"The techniques will be practiced until they become muscle memory, an instinct," she said.

According to the website, RAD is the largest self-defense organization in the nation and the only one that has ever been endorsed by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administration, which provides services to advance public safety at schools.

The program has been taught at over 3,500 colleges, universities, cities, counties, parishes, and state police departments, including University of Southern California, California State University, Los Angeles and Northridge, and Pasadena City College, according to the program's website.

The program coaches women exclusively, who are most targeted by attackers, said Samano. Recent statistics prove this to be true.

According to a 2012 data sheet from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 18.3 percent of women or almost one out of five reported having experienced rape at some time in their lives. Of those, 37.4 percent were first raped between the ages of 18 and 24.

"The numbers of sexual assaults of women, even battery, are very high," Samano said. "It's out there. It's happening not only with strangers; it can be a family member or a close friend."

The program is free for SMC students their first year. Starting the second year, they can repeatedly retake the course for a one-time fee of $10

This special offer was made possible through an AS donation toward the program, according to Samano.

"We didn't have it in our funding," she said. "We still needed half of the funding since the suits that we need are very expensive, so the AS funding was very important."

The AS board of directors voted unanimously to approve the donation, that will finance the equipment.

"I think the RAD program is great because students won't have to pay for it," said Jemal Hussein, AS vice president. "I don't believe that you should pay to learn how to defend yourself. We all thought there was a good purpose to it because it will help the students."

The workshop will also be open for SMC staff members and women who are not enrolled at SMC for a $10 charge, according to Samano.

The program is designed for all women regardless of height, size, physical fitness, or age.

For Samano, the change in women's attitudes after the program is significant.

“It also encourages women to know that they are not going to be the victim," she said. "It gets them into that mindset. RAD is an empowerment. When a woman comes out of the program, she is like a completely different person."

Both younger and more mature students are encouraged to sign up for the class to reap its benefits.

“Many women feel weak, but if they would learn the techniques, they would feel the strength to protect themselves," said 20-year-old SMC student Devora Lopez. "It can help their self-esteem. If I have time, I'll definitely sign up for it."

"I think it's wonderful, and every woman should take it; it should be mandatory," said 72-year-old student Ellen Vener, who takes a vocational class at SMC.

The program will begin as soon as the equipment is available. Details on location and time are still to be determined.

NewsJasmin HuynhComment