Defense mechanisms |

Defense mechanisms

by Amanda Roberson


What: Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes

When: 7-8:30 p.m. Thursdays July 11-August 29

Where: Breckenridge Rec. Center

Cost: Free to all, including non-members of the rec center

To register, call (970)453-1734. Class size is limited to 15.

BRECKENRIDGE – When a woman is attacked, the most powerful tool she has is her own self-confidence. That’s the philosophy behind the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program, a series of classes that teaches women the fundamentals of self-defense and gives them “more tools to have in their toolboxes they could use if attacked,” said Breckenridge police officer Rachel Dunaway. A recently certified RAD instructor, Dunaway will teach eight classes at the Breckenridge Recreation Center beginning Thursday.

“Many women think there’s nothing they can do if they’re attacked,” said Dunaway. “The class teaches self-defense moves for different attack situations, and, most of all, it gives self- confidence.”

RAD is a nationwide program that stresses both prevention and defense. It also stresses awareness of surroundings to prevent rapes from happening..

“Sexual assault is something we deal with every year,” said Dunaway. “I don’t want to give the false hope that taking this class will prevent all rape; if there are weapons involved, the techniques won’t work. But this gives women more options than they had before.”

Dunaway attended a RAD instructor training class to learn the philosophy and methods of the program through a grant from the Colorado Regional Policing Institute.

Class members learn defense techniques through interaction, rather than lecture. There are specific moves to use if they are attacked from the front, back, behind or choked. Punching bags, arm pads, and knee pads let them practice the moves hands-on. A final simulation involves an officer in the “red man suit,” a protective shield that lets the women try out all the moves they would use in an attack.

Once women have the tools to protect themselves, they must keep them sharp. Practicing self-defense moves after the class ends is key, said Dunaway.

“If you take the class and don’t think about it again, everything you’ve learned moves out the window,” said Dunaway

Class members receive a book they can use periodically to refresh their memories. Upon completion of the class, they also may attend a free RAD session anywhere in the country to brush up on prevention tactics and practice defense moves.

Rape is a huge problem in Summit County and nationwide, said Sarah Vaine, assistant director of Advocates for Victims of Assault. Date rape, in particular, occurs frequently among the young population.

National studies have shown 84 percent of sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim, and 95 percent of rapes are not reported. There is one rape or attempted rape committed every 1.6 minutes in the United States, said Vaine.

“Because a huge percentage of cases go unreported, perpetrators go without consequences,” said Vaine.

“Classes like these are extremely important because they get people talking about rape, which can be an uncomfortable subject. Awareness gives women an advantage.”

Dunaway said she is excited to have her instructor certification and have the RAD equipment here in Summit County. Depending on interest, she might teach several classes a year.

A series of eight classes at the Breckenridge Rec. Center begins July 11 and runs Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. through August 29. The classes are free, and class members receive a signed certificate at the end. To register, call the Breckenridge rec center at (970) 453-1734. Class size is limited to 15 members per session.

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