As I tried to fight off two men,
All I could think about was how I was going to escape...
My legs were numb,
My breathing was heavy,
My mind and body were about to give up.
Then that little voice inside of me said,
"Get up! You're not done!"
It was the last day of the RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) program, and I was in the middle of physically proving that a petite, 5 foot tall woman could defend herself. It was the most empowering, scariest, exhausting, emotionally draining situation I have ever encountered.
Walking through the doors of the Police Academy gave me a sense of pure exhilaration. The tune to the "Police Academy" movie kept playing in my head.
Sergeant Ray* and about 5 other instructors introduced themselves and went over a rundown of what situations we all need to be extra cautious about. They went over how to keep yourself safe when in a public parking lot, going to parties that get out of hand, date rape, carjackings, kidnappings, home invasions, etc. There were a few things that I have been taught from a young age that they debunked. For example, when it is dark outside and a woman is walking to her car, she might hold her key inbetween her forefinger/middle finger. That way if an intruder were to attack, she could jab him in the eye sockets or slash him across the face like Wolverine. Sergeant Ray said that this is not the most effective way to fight an intruder because you most likely will break your hand in the process. In any given situation though, you do what you gotta do! Slashing your attacker with keys is better than doing nothing, in my opinion. Day one was also about learning punching techniques. It was amazing to get all that aggression and frustration out in a safe environment. It looked a lot like martial arts which is something I never had the interest to try before.
This day focused on combining punches and kicks. There is not much to say about this day other than we had a lot of drills. We learned in a whole group setting and then would break off into groups to practice what was taught.
DID YOU KNOW??
You have to practice a move 15,000 times before it is engrained in your mind, and your body will automatically do it without thinking about it?
This was the day that I don't think anybody could ever be fullyprepared for. Throughout the first few days they kept saying that Day 3 would be "The Event". Sergeant Ray would not tell anybody what it was about or what we were going to be doing. It did leave a sense of curiosity and anticipation within each of us. We learned a few more moves and used practice dummies (pictured to the right).
Then it was time for "The Event". My group walked into another room that reeked of mustiness, was small, and you could sense the fear/nervousness. I had NO idea what I was getting myself into...
I was #4 in line to be "attacked". While waiting for my turn, I geared up and rooted on the ladies that were fighting with all their might. It was very emotional because some of the "victims" were crying during their fight and the physical exertion was very evident. You have no control over what emotions show up during this time. Even when I walked in there with a great attitude, great frame of mind, there was a rude awakening in store. Finally it was my turn. The instructor and I were pretending to walk down "the alleyway" when two dudes started cat calling and saying very inappropriate things. The second one guy approached and got in my face, I beat the hell out of him! Punching, kicking, jabbing, and of course screaming was involved. This was the easy round. Right after that we jumped into the next scenario which involved two attackers. This round took more strength out of me and seemed to last longer. When I got to the safety zone, I was already breathless and was like, "was that my last round?" NOPE! Exhaustion had already set in and my breathing was labored. Round 3 was pure fear--no better way to describe it. The difference with this round was how they started it.
They told me to close my eyes, walk to the end of the room and stand there. Your mind starts to play crazy tricks on you in this kind of situation even though you know it's all fake. Before I knew what was happening, heavy breathing and a disgusting grunting sound was next to my ear. The intruders started to whisper dirty things in my ears. I could feel the attacker's breath on the back of my neck. This time it did not feel like a simulation...this felt like an authentic, horrifying experience. With the breathing and grunting going on, I screamed "Get away! Back off!" Then he grabbed me and I threw punches. This went on for awhile and before I knew it the other attacker picked me up from behind. It was extremely frightening and unexpected so I screamed and kicked with all my might. My feet were dangling in the air and by this time I was so exhausted that I could barely kick my way free. Somehow I got loose but tripped and fell. This was my worst nightmare because all the instructors said specifically all week that this is NOT the position you ever want to be in. If you are in it though there are still ways to fight, but they say if you can stay on your feet during a fight then that's what they truly recommend. Before I knew it, my attacker turned me on my stomach and got on top of me. This was the moment I started sobbing but no tears came through. My body was weak, worn out, and my legs turned to jello. It felt like 10 whole seconds of me lying there...doing NOTHING except having an internal battle with myself. The thought that I couldn't make it, that if I was put in this situation in real life I would be dead, and then that tiny little voice inside my head said, "GET UP! YOU'RE NOT DONE!" I'd like to think it was God speaking to me. Either way, that was all that was needed to get one last ounce of strength. At that moment I rolled him off of me and ran to the safety zone, collapsing onto the floor. It took me 30 minutes to recover and get my heart beating back to normal and to not feel like passing out.
Honestly, this experience was the best thing I EVER did for myself. Even when I gave birth to my son I was given an epidural and didn't feel much during my labor or during the c-section. So being able to do this RAD program and "escaping with my life" was the most empowering thing ever. If you can get into a RAD program or self-defense class I highly recommend it. You will leave from there with confidence, information, and will know what to do in any given situation.
*By no means do I want to take this subject lightly. Nor do I want to make it sound like I know what it is like to be a victim of an attack. These are my own personal thoughts, and what was experienced in the RAD program.
*Due to confidentiality, I renamed our Sergeant because every time I looked at him he reminded me of a bulky, Ray Ramone from "Every Loves Raymond"
*Most of you are probably wondering what techniques, punches, and kicks were learned. We were sworn to secrecy on that. Only RAD participants and instructors know...so with that said: Go take a class and find out :)
*All photos taken via Google images
*All photos taken via Google images