A course at CSUN is teaching women how to defend themselves.
The course is a part of the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) System and is provided by the Department of Police Services and kinesiology department.
Raquel Lenhart is the instructor of the class.
“It provides options for women to escape an attack,” Lenhart said.
According to the CSUN Department of Police Services, two rapes were reported on campus in 2009.
Christina Villalobos, special assistant to the chief of police and public information officer with CSUN’s Department of Police Services, said rape is one of the most underreported crimes on campus.
She added that rape oftentimes triggers a complex mix of emotions in the victim, like fear, shock, confusion, guilt and disbelief. With feelings of shame and embarrassment added into the mix, victims many times choose not to report the crime, she added.
The Department of Police Services launched the RAD program in 1998, Villalobos said. It was initially a 12-hour class that was open to students and non-students alike. In August of 1998, the RAD class was expanded into a semester-long course in conjunction with the kinesiology department. The class is only open to CSUN students.
All instructors have to undergo 30 hours of training and pass a written and physical test before they can teach the course, Lenhart said. They are tested for proficiency with personal weapons, knowledge of vulnerable locations and physical self-defense techniques.
Students are taught to engage an attacker with a variety of offensive and defensive methods, according to the class schedule.
Lenhart said 60 percent of rapes are committed by people who the victim knows, which is why RAD students are told not to practice self-defense techniques with men, including their husbands or boyfriends.
The class appears to be well received, Lenhart said.
Kathy Espino Perez, 22, said she is taking the class because she doesn’t live in a good neighborhood.
“People have tried to make me get in their car,” said the psychology major.
Jessica Gonzalez, 20, psychology major, said she leaves campus late, and the walk to her car is usually deserted.
Perez and Gonzalez both said it’s too early in the semester to tell if the class is effective.
Donna G., 26, who declined to give her full last name, said she has been harassed before.
“This class is good,” she said. “It is empowering, but I’m not there yet.”
Lenhart said she has received nothing but good feedback about the class. She added that women leave the class relaxed and with more confidence and higher self-esteem.
The class routinely fills to capacity, and there is a waiting list to get in, she added.
“They are fighting to get in, no pun intended,” Lenhart said.
In order to meet Title IX requirements, which mandates that no person in the U.S. shall be excluded from participating in any education program that receives federal funding, a concurrent class is offered for men, Villalobos said. Unlike the women’s class, the men’s class was populated for the first time this semester.
The men’s class teaches its students how to deflect and defuse a potentially violent situation, Lenhart said.
Villalobos said the Department of Police Services still offers the 12-hour RAD class to the community. There is a $10, one-time fee associated with the class, and it allows the student to retake the class as often as desired.