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INDIAN HEAD, Md-Cpl. Tashna Hicks-Wert, a Marine who serves with the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) delivers a knee strike to the kidneys of a would-be attacker during the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD)course at the unit Nov. 16. The three-week course builds upon the instinct of self-preservation and incorporates basic martial arts principles that uphold its key theme of breaking contact with the aggressor and escaping to safety.

Photo by Sgt. Christopher D. Reed

Women strike back at aggression

16 Nov 2005 | Sgt. Christopher Reed

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, somewhere in America a woman is raped every two minutes.  Yet society in general remains oblivious to the magnitude of this violent crime, suggests Lawrence N. Nadeau, founder and director of instructional development for Rape Aggression Defense Systems, Inc. 

"Until it [rape] happens to 'them' or someone 'they' know and love, it's just another headline," said Nadeau.  It is just another crime that happens to someone else. 

Yet what proves to be even more compelling than the statistics surrounding rape are the principles originally developed to combat such an attack. 

"Research into defense classes designed for women led primarily to one or two hour lectures that focused on avoidance, prevention and compliance if attacked," explains Nadeau.  "These lectures are good, but fail to fill the need for physical self defense training, and their recommendation of only compliance is libelous and counter to the instinct of self- preservation." 

Self-preservation is an instinct twenty-five women had in common when they decided to meet at the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) to learn the principles that comprise Nadeau's Rape Aggression Defense Systems Basic Physical Defense for Women (RAD). 

"The RAD system is not for the weak at heart, or the conscientious objector," explains Nadeau.  "Our system is specifically designed for women who are willing to consider as a viable option, defense, in situations where their life is in jeopardy."

Staff Sgt. Laura A. Miner, a career retention specialist at CBIRF and a survivor of aggression, participated in the three-week RAD course and embraces defense as the most viable option. 

"As a survivor of aggression, I believe if I was taught the RAD principles when I was 15 years old I would have known what to do to protect myself," Miner said.  "The aggressor attacked me from behind.  The techniques I was taught during the RAD course would have allowed me to break the grasp of the attacker and run away." 

Miner feels she completed the training successfully because she understands on key principle taught during the course; to break contact with the aggressor and get away as quickly as possible.

"Do not give in to the aggressor but do not fight unless you have to," said Miner.  "The more you fight the more tired you will become and consequently make yourself easy prey."

The RAD system incorporates basic martial arts principles that uphold the key principle of breaking contact with the aggressor.  Depending on the situation, the course participants are taught to employ knee strikes to the attacker's groin and face, the hammer fist, which exploits the vulnerability of the attacker's head, or the mule kick, which temporarily disables the aggressor's knees. 

Participants are given the opportunity to watch other trainees and then practice techniques on simulated attackers who wear heavy rubber outfits so that participants may use as much physical force as they can.  This ability to act out escapes from attackers reinforces the techniques more strongly than simply watching a demonstration or listening to a speaker. 

"Before the course I was not as aware of my surroundings, " said Jennifer Spier, a key volunteer CBIRF.  "Now that I have taken the course I feel like I know how to get out of a situation where I may be attacked by being put into a bear hug or choke hold."

Janet Hammes, a RAD course instructor, remarks that Spier's feeling about the course tends to be a common among participants.

"When you take into account the wide array of people who attended the course; from 10 years old to mid-thirties, and active duty to spouses, it is interesting that the basic feeling was 'it opened our eyes to potential threats that we may not have been aware of,'" Hammes said.  "It [the course] gave them the knowledge that they could survive such an attack." 

In addition to giving participants an opportunity to foster a sense of security and confidence free of charge, the RAD course gave one 10-year old girl the chance to bond with her mother. 

"I don't get to spend too much time with my mom and the training was an opportunity to spend time with her," said Ashton Spier, daughter of Jennifer Spier.  "The best part was just learning that you could protect yourself." 

For more information about the RAD course and the next available course instruction, contact Marine and Family Services Henderson Hall at 703-614-7200.  Active duty Marines and dependents are eligible to attend this training free of charge.
Chemical Biological Incident Response Force