FLINT (WJRT) A new self-defense program is spreading across the nation and it's now here in Mid-Michigan, as dozens of sheriff's departments as well as college campuses are using RAD Systems to promote safety.
RAD, short for Rape Aggression Defense, is a course for women to learn realistic and basic techniques to escape unwanted situations where they could become abducted or hurt.
More women across the state are getting the education thanks to a new program offered at the multiple local sheriff's offices.
“Once that woman fights back, an attacker isn't expecting that, they're expecting them to give up,” says RAD instructor Mariah Eckel.
But RAD teaches women how to be fighters, to not give up in a situation where they could be hurt.
“RAD is a Rape Aggression Defense System,” said Eckel. “Self-defense for women of all ages, basically teaching them how to protect themselves.”
After the first offered class, Eckel said registration for the program skyrocketed.
“The world is changing,” she said. “Women see the scary things and attacks that are happening. I think more women are wanting to protect themselves, they want to learn.”
While using your body as a tool is important, your voice can save your life before you even have to resort to physical contact.
“Your biggest tool, is your voice -- a deep yell,” said RAD instructor Ryan Wilcox. “It will catch them off guard and you may be able to get a little bit of separation from an attacker and then you can use your other tools -- kicks, punches, elbows -- to get away.”
That's the goal of RAD. Being able to only fight enough to get yourself out of the situation.
“Use that gut feeling. That feeling is your first line of defense,” says Wilcox.
According to Wilcox, if you know the person is following you, make eye contact.
“Ask them what they are doing,” he says. “Then it will catch them off guard, let them know you know they are there. If they are following you they will probably walk away.”
When it goes further, that's where these skills come in. Those are skills that Cheryl Drugich said all women should know.
“It's good for any female to be able to feel empowered and be able to protect themselves in a circumstance that the need might come up,” said Drugich as she prepared to begin the class.
The class holds special meaning for her because, like so many others, she narrowly escaped abduction.
“As a child, I was riding my bike in Capac and a man tried kidnapping me. I froze, but I was eventually able to pedal my bike,” she said. “But maybe if I had a class and training like this as a child on what to do in a situation when you're being abducted or someone is trying to hurt you, maybe I could have reacted better. Putting some sort of training of reaction to that circumstance is beneficial.”
Years later, Drugich is continuing to fight back and preparing herself for anything.
“Working on skills that I know I don't have and having people that know what they're doing and can teach me some skills, I think this will make me feel more confident,” she said. “I still have that fear, even as a 42-year-old woman, of going out and walking on the street by myself or riding a bike by myself because you just never know. A class like this will help me have confidence and feel a little more secure in myself.”
The RAD class is aimed to show every woman that they have exactly what they need inside of them.
“We teach these women and show them they can survive, they will fight, they will win,” Eckel said.
Instructors encourage all women to be prepared and register to take the class. You can find a full list of schools and sheriff's offices that offer the RAD program at, http://www.rad-systems.com/