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Rape defense class a RAD experience

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mindy Bloem
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
April 4 and 5, I had the opportunity to take a rape aggression defense class conducted at Pope's Airman and Family Readiness Center's conference room. 

To be honest, at first the thought of being in a classroom for most of my precious weekend didn't exactly thrill me; however, Col. John McDonald, our vice wing commander, put it best on Saturday morning when he told the class he understood it was not easy coming in on a Saturday, but one Saturday is not going to be such a loss when you look at the bigger picture -- and it might even save your life. 

After hearing this logic, it solidified in my mind the need to put away any negative thinking and commit to this class wholeheartedly, and let me just say, it was worth it. 

The truth of the matter is I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity afforded to me by the military at no cost to protect myself from possible danger. And let's face it, when daily news reports bombard us with cases of rape and murder, it doesn't take a genius to see the value in a self-defense course like this one. 

Many of us know a woman who has been affected by rape in one way or another. By the same token, many of us can also recall a situation where we detected danger from a would-be attacker and were lucky enough to get out of harm's way. 

When I was younger, I used to sleep with a pocket knife under my pillow, just in case some deranged psychopath tried to murder me in my sleep. I have since decided this might not be the best way to protect myself (being mocked to scorn by family and friends contributed to this decision, I am sure), but I am still paranoid when it comes to vulnerable moments like nighttime situations or empty parking lots, etc. 

It seemed to me that the best way to subdue my paranoia was to take this class. 

I was not wrong. I feel much more secure in my ability to protect myself from these types of situations. While I pray the situation to use these defense mechanisms never presents itself, there is an added peace in knowing I have planned for such a scenario. Not only did I learn such vital truths like "I am a weapon," but I learned these lessons in an environment of trust and safety. 

The instructors, two men and two women, drove all the way from Tennessee at no charge because they cared about our well being. These educators were extremely helpful and patient as they taught us various protection tactics. They spent two days training us and did this gladly because they care about this issue. 

Another added bonus was getting to know the other women participating in the class. We had a lot of fun learning new defensive moves while playing and joking with each other and our instructors. We formed a sisterhood as we all got into the spirit of the course by practicing our maneuvers over and over again with each other. 

Some people may think they don't need a class like this because something as horrible as rape could never happen to them. But in fact, one in three women will be sexually assaulted sometime in her lifetime. That is a terrifying statistic, and it is our job to make sure that should the situation ever arise, we will have a plan of defense already in place. I was also surprised to learn that 78 percent of victims know the attacker. In light of this percentage, it is no wonder, women get taken so off guard. After all when you know someone, you are more inclined to be trusting and therefore more likely to drop your defenses. 

During one of the breaks, I talked to Jennifer, one of the instructors. She said among college students and young adults, putting drugs in someone's drink is becoming an increasingly popular method of rape. She said the attacker will slip a drug, like GHB, into a woman's drink and when she starts feeling flu-like symptoms, he will come in as a hero-type and ask if he can help. She will feel so groggy and sick that she will let him escort her away from the crowd, which in many cases, is to a secluded room, and once she passes out, he rapes her. 

I encourage every woman reading this to make themselves aware of the threats posed to our safety and take one of these courses as an appropriate method of prevention for despicable crimes like rape. 

To the men reading this, I urge you to encourage the women in your life to take a class like this. Like Gayle, one of the instructors, told us, most men are good and care about women. They have mothers, wives, sisters and daughters, and they want their women to be protected. 

I may have given up a weekend to attend this class, but the benefits truly do outweigh the costs. And next weekend, I, along with my fellow classmates, can go out with all the confidence of our teaching and know that we don't have to be victims.