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Devils Fight Back promotes sexual safety with self-defense classes

Devils Fight Back sexual safety awareness events continued Wednesday with self-defense classes for students taught by Rape Aggression Defense Systems instructors.

R.A.D. is a national organization that teaches women, men, children and seniors how to protect themselves if put in dangerous situations. The classes held in the Sun Devil Fitness Complex focused on women being able to defend themselves if put in situations where someone was trying to assault them.

Nicole Reed, Tempe USG director of University affairs, said the training showed her the importance of being able to protect herself if she is ever in a dangerous situation.

“I think a lot of the times we are unaware of the power we can have over ourselves and the class seemed to be a way that I can empower myself, my body and basically take charge of my own responsibility that I have on myself,” she said.

Most people don’t think they will be put in a situation where they will need to defend themselves and the class helped Reed become more aware, she said.

“A lot of times we think that we won’t be put in these situations and it won’t affect us and whatever happens we will just be able to take it as it comes,” Reed said. “We don’t prepare ourselves and what I got out of the class is that I need to be more aware of my surroundings and use my training and I would also like to do more training.”

Kenneth Bratt, assistant course instructor, said incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assaults are very high on college campuses.

According to crime statistics ASU releases each year, there were 12 reported forcible sex offenses across the four campuses in 2013.

“I think teaching women how to defend themselves and how to get away from those situations is very important,” he said. “It’s important for my daughter and wife, and it is important for everybody else's daughters and wives, too.”

Bratt said people need to know how to take care of themselves and prevent other people from causing them harm.

“If you don’t take care of yourself who is going to,” he said. “The more you learn about how to do it and how to do it properly and how to avoid those situations to begin with, the better off you are.”

R.A.D. holds classes at the ASU Police Department as often as enough people sign up for them, Bratt said.

“The classes go into a lot more detail than what we did here today and often culminate with the opportunity to actually meet someone in a suit and utilize those techniques to see how they work,” he said.

Stewart Adams, crime prevention coordinator for the ASU Police Department, said more women think about their safety when in public spaces than men, but a lot of them don’t look to safety classes for help in educating themselves on self defense.

“A lot of times they don’t move to attend a self defense class,” he said. “This class we teach is easy to learn, easy to remember and easy to use. This (class) gives these students here time to learn something that empowers them to defend themselves. So the women can come out of the class thinking I can handle myself a little more than I knew and now have more tools to use if attacked.”

Participants of all age groups and skill level take part in the R.A.D. classes and can decide whether to participate in the physical aspect of the course.

“They can choose to participate in the technique we are learning or they can watch,” Adams said. “If they have a bad knee or something and can’t strike the targets then they can do what they can and they can learn just by watching what is being done. It is up to them.”

Being aware of the surroundings and the environment a person is in is key to preventing attacks from happening but no one should have to be paranoid of their surroundings all of the time, Adams said.

"We want people to just be aware of what is going on and ask themselves if that is a threat to me or could that person hurt me,’" he said. “If there is a threat, then we need to make arrangements to protect ourselves and get out of that area.”

ASU has many services organized to help feel students feel safe on campus and Adams said he encourages all students to take advantage of these tools.

“The buddy system, using the safety escort on campus and calling the ASU Police Department for an escort are great sources to help protect (and) keep everyone safe on campus,” Adams said.

Reach the reporter at or follow on Twitter @joey_hancock

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