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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

RAD at VCU is a comprehensive self-defense class for women (assigned, identifying and transgender). Rape Aggression Defense training covers topics like awareness, prevention, risk avoidance and physical defense training.

It takes place in four days that space out over a couple of weeks, adding to twelve hours in total. VCU Police offers this class in an inclusive and accommodating setting to students for free, and $10 to others. 

On day one, we received booklets containing information and discussed general awareness regarding assault, such as tactics used by aggressors. We discussed ways to increase risk reduction. I realized the importance of paying attention to my surroundings. It’s imperative to be vigilant because incidents can happen in seemingly safe environments.

We also touched on what our personal weapons are, such as elbows, knees and heads. We won’t always have pepper spray or a Taser to defend ourselves, so it’s crucial to know what body parts could work in our favor. I also learned some simple ways to protect myself and my home.  

On days two and three, we were instructed on how to physically defend ourselves. They showed us ways to intimidate potential aggressors with just our tone and stance. The instructors taught us how to kick in several ways and gave many variations in hand postures as personal weapons.

We also learned how to get out of wrist grabs, chokes, bear hugs and ways to fight if we are on the ground. The fear of being attacked by someone bigger and stronger than us is real. These days really showed me that technique gives you leverage. 

On day four, the last day, we participated in an aggressor simulation. We dressed up in padding and helmets and the pretend aggressors were protected head to toe. We went through three scenarios and performed what we would do if caught in those situations.

In the moment, I felt as if defending myself came down to my instincts, which were now strengthened by my new skills. The pretend aggressors made the situations light-hearted, but also realistic.

It was interesting to see how I could implement these techniques into my defense. At the end, we had a cute little graduation ceremony and received certificates, which now hangs proudly on my fridge. 

I am grateful for taking this class because I walked away feeling confident in my ability to save my life. It was an empowering experience, and one I feel better off for. After you’ve completed the class, you can return for any session at no cost for life! I absolutely plan on practicing what I’ve learned to maintain these new skills.

I encourage any female-identifying student, staff or citizen to take this class! You can visit their website for more information about the class with upcoming dates.

Abigale Darnell (she/her) is a student in Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University with a minor in Creative Writing. She has an interest in holistic wellness, female empowerment, fashion and pop culture.