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Students learn how to fight sexual assaulters

VSU is stepping up its game in order to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence. Several new classes and additions have been made to promote awareness and prevent sexual assault crimes.

VSU now offers Rape Aggression Defense as a four-hour credit course.

“This is a huge, huge accomplishment for RAD in general, we have never been able to offer it before like that,” Holly Wright, assistant director of health promotions, said.

Wright said that VSU has offered a non-credit RAD for the past four to five years but the voluntary course required students to come back each day, which made attendance low toward the end.

Now that RAD is available to students as a class, they not only receive credit for attending, but they are learning how to protect themselves as well.

The techniques of RAD use the potential victim’s body as a weapon of self-defense.

Unlike a martial arts program that uses weapons, the person’s body and voice are all that are needed to defend against attackers.

The program is structured this way because the weapon could be used against them by the attacker and because a weapon is often not accessible at the onset of an attack.

The Office of Health Promotions is also now able to offer a miniature version of RAD called SAFE—Self Defense Awareness Familiarization Exchange. This is the only program of its kind that is endorsed by RAD.

This “mini-RAD” program can be taught by one person in just a couple of hours and still hits all of the main points in the RAD Program.

SAFE primarily teaches participants how to reduce their risk of being a victim, which is 90-percent of self-defense, Wright said.

Wright said that many of the sororities and fraternities have asked her to put on the SAFE class.

“It is great to see the males get involved as well,” Wright said.

Wright encouraged students to pay attention to their surroundings at all times.

“Take the ear buds out, keep your blinds closed, and look around you for potential danger,” Wright said. “Most assault crimes are crimes of opportunity.”

In addition to RAD-type programs, VSU also has emergency call phones all around campus, which have a distinct blue light that can be seen from a distance.

These phones will get students help in the event of an emergency.

If a student has been victimized he or she can go to several locations to report the incident.

Leah McMillan, assistant director of the VSU counseling center explained that students can come to the Counseling Center, The Haven or University Police.

“VSU is very passionate about this cause and we make every effort to ensure proper reporting,” Dr. McMillan said.

The counseling center at VSU offers therapy to students free of charge. This includes victims of sexual assault or rape.

Dr. McMillan previously worked as a Rape Crisis Advocate so she is experienced in matters of sexual assault and how to handle therapy for victims.

Dr. McMillan and Holly Wright urge students to stay proactive about sexual assault and seek help from police or counseling if necessary.

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