Public Safety brings empowering self-defense course to OSU

The Department of Public Safety is offering free self-defense courses for OSU students, faculty and staff aimed at preventing physical or sexual assault and teaching safety strategies for everyday situations. The classes are part of nationwide program called Rape Aggression Defense Systems (R.A.D) and cover practical prevention tactics in addition to self-defense skills.

The R.A.D training courses are led by OSU Public Safety Officer Nick Herman along with Police Officers Zach Hermens and Katrina Robson. The current course offerings are designed for women, but DPS hopes to offer more R.A.D courses aimed at other groups in the future.

Instructors wear the R.A.D Aggressor Dynamic Simulation Training Suit during trainings so that participants can practice self-defense tactics safely. But Herman stressed that the overall goal of the course is to train participants to think proactively and make safety strategies a daily habit.  

“Not just striking tactics, ground tactics, arm bar tactics, but how you can live safest in your day to day life,” he explained.

R.A.D instructor Zach Hermens wearing the R.A.D Aggressor Dynamic Simulation Training Suit.

R.A.D instructors Nick Herman and Katrina Robson help fellow instructor, Zach Hermens, into the R.A.D Aggressor Dynamic Simulation Training Suit.

With that in mind, the R.A.D course teaches safety basics like being alert and aware of your surroundings when walking, instead of staring down at a smartphone. The current course also teaches smart strategies for dating, such as choosing safer locations to meet and having a friend call during the date to check on you.

Herman said his goal as a R.A.D instructor is to empower participants and increase their overall sense of safety in the community. And R.A.D training, he said, is not just about defending yourself in the worst-case scenarios.

“You can never be attacked in your life, but there are still things that will be beneficial for you as a person,” he explained.

Funding for the program came from a donor who had participated in R.A.D and wanted to share it with the OSU community, free of charge. Herman said while OSU’s campus is relatively safe, having a program like R.A.D available increases that sense of safety, especially for students and concerned parents.

DPS staff are striving to provide a comfortable and positive experience for each participant and recognize that experiencing a simulated attack may trigger a trauma response for those who have experienced violence or abuse. Advocates from OSU’s Center for Advocacy, Prevention and Education (CAPE) attend each R.A.D training session to provide resources and support to participants as needed. Herman said the program is a chance for DPS staff to build personal connections with the community they serve.

“It opens the door for building community and having better conversations,” he said. “And it also puts a face to someone in uniform. That’s why most of us in this field are in this job – because we really want to help.”  

The next R.A.D training will be held February 23-25 and includes three sessions. Space is limited to ten participants and registration is open now.

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