Walking at night doesn’t have to be an unsettling experience, if one has the knowledge and confidence that can be learned from Ohio University Police Department Officer Brandon King in the Rape Aggression Defense System program.

The system is taught by King on a weekly basis at Ohio University’s Ping Center each quarter. It is a women-only course that teaches awareness, prevention, risk reduction and risk avoidance in addition to hands-on defense training. After it ended due to lack of interest, King was able to revive the program at OU this quarter — and just in time it seems.

Since March, there have been numerous reports in the Athens area of women being sexually assaulted. The most recent incident took place Thursday evening near Morton Hall. A female OU student reported she was grabbed by an unknown man while walking down the nearby hill around 11:53 p.m. She said the man grabbed her and pushed her toward Morton Hall and grabbed her breasts and groin. The student fought back and the suspect fled.

Shannon David, a doctoral student at OU and a participant in King’s class this quarter, said her friend found the woman after the incident and the victim reportedly said she was fortunate to have had self-defense training of her own or else she would not have been able to escape her assailant.

“It made me feel good about doing this (class),” David said. “I just can’t believe that that many (sexual assaults) are happening around campus.”

David and doctoral colleague Lauren Stephenson both feel that they now have the ability to protect themselves if they find themselves in similar situations.

“We were talking about it the other day. If it was something you didn’t practice and you didn’t have an idea how to do this in your mind beforehand, if someone attacked like that, I’d probably just squirm and squiggle,” Stephenson said. “Now, I have an idea as to how to help myself.”

Stephenson said King has taught them kicks and punches and how to get out of uncomfortable situations, such as an aggressor having control over their arms or body or being prone on the ground with an aggressor in a mount position.

“We’ve also been taught about not getting ourselves into those situations,” Stephenson added. “Hopefully the stuff we’ve learned, we won’t have to use because we’ve also been taught how to be aware of our surroundings. But, in a worst-case scenario, we could definitely put up a better fight than before the class.”

King said the 12-hour program will conclude with Rape Aggression Defense System instructors simulating attacks against the women in the class so that the participants can fully employ all of their learned skills.

“This is a very basic self-defense course where women can learn these techniques,” King said. “It allows the meek and mild, from 5-foot, 1-inch and 100 pounds to the 89-year-old elderly to utilize this self-defense for the purpose of escape and to get away.”

King said, “If one woman can leave this classroom feeling more empowered, it’s a success.”

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