Irving police officers taught women how to fight back against would-be attackers during the Girls Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Camp held Monday, Aug. 7 through Thursday, Aug. 10, at the Irving Police and Fire Training Academy.
During the free four-day course, women of all ages learned how to defend themselves and their loved ones from attacks. The RAD system is a comprehensive, women-only course that focuses on awareness, prevention, and risk avoidance while incorporating self-defense techniques like strikes and escaping holds.
Counselors were also available to talk to the women about what to do if they or someone they love are assaulted as well as steps they should take to protect themselves.
“The techniques are designed to complement a woman in the way she would naturally fight,” Officer Jill Smith said.
“Not every technique will work for every person, regardless of age or size. But we teach many different types of techniques so that somebody’s going to find something or several things that will work for them.”
Smith emphasized that giving women a variety of techniques to choose from not only allows them to pick and choose what works best for them, but more importantly gives them options other than panicking when confronted by an attacker.
“What we do is we give people options,” Smith said. “There are no guarantees, that’s what we tell everyone, and we tell the girls this as well. But we give you tools for your physical and mental toolbox. If you’re ever in a situation where you have to use something, you’re going to have a lot of options instead of just panicking and screaming.”
This summer course saw primarily younger girls from tween to teenagers. Helen Granello, an 11th-grader at Lancaster High School, was one of the attendees. She was surprised to see such a young group, but was also very pleased that young people were learning how to defend themselves.
“Whenever I first came in, I saw 10-year-olds and I thought that was a really good thing,” Granello said. “It’s good to teach your children this, because [predators] are trying to get them younger and younger. I think it’s a really good skill to learn, especially nowadays.”
Although this course was mostly attended by younger girls, Smith says women of all ages can attend this course and that many come back to the course to refine their skills even further.
“We get a lot of people who will come back for practice and train throughout the year with us,” Smith said. “They get better and better. They build a lot of confidence, and the more they do it, the easier it gets for them.”
In fact, Smith encourages participants to come back and take the course again as many times as they need to feel confident in the techniques.
“We don’t want to instill a false sense of security in anyone. Every time you practice this, every time you do it, you’ll gain more ground. You’ll get better at it, and that’s what it takes to be able to succeed in defending yourself,” she said.
According to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council Foundation, last year there were over 2,500 reported cases of sexual assault in North Texas alone, with 87 percent of the victims being women. Smith said women need to take steps to protect themselves and to prevent becoming just another statistic.
“There’s not always somebody that you can go to for help,” Smith said. “Sometimes it is going to take the police a little bit of time to get there if you need help from us. I want to be there for you all the time, but it’s not always possible. There’s plenty of time in life when we’re alone in our house or apartment, or alone walking around the mall parking lot, anything like that. It’s important that you learn how to take care of yourself in different situations, and that’s what is great about this program.”
The next round of RAD classes starts Oct. 9 and runs through Oct. 12 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sign-ups will be available on the City of Irving website in September. Those interested may also contact Officer Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.