By Laura Butler
Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted, and 60 percent of these cases are not reported to the police, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. One in six women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime and college-aged women are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted.Six women between the ages of 19 and 47 attended the Rape Aggression Defense Self-Defense Class sponsored by the Eastern Kentucky University Police Department on April 7, 8 and 9. The purpose of the class is to increase safety awareness and provide women with basic skills for self-defense, said Officer Katherine Havens, the class instructor. “We want to give the girls basic skills to use in case of an attack as well as help build their self-confidence,” she said.
The course is financed by the campus police department and is thus available at no charge to Eastern women, whether they are students, staff or faculty members. Havens said the police department has held the class roughly once a semester since May of 2005. “The department uses this as a means of community policing. We want to do our part to make sure everyone feels safe on this campus.”
According to the R.A.D. handbook, “women need to plan for an attack rather than fear it-fear will diminish when a plan of action is prepared.”
Havens also said women can take many precautions, most of which are common sense, to stay safe when going out.
“Most of the problems we see on campus stem from alcohol use. If you’re going to choose to drink, do some pre-planning: have a ride in place, always let someone know where you are going, stay in groups or pairs and, most of all, trust your instincts,” Havens said. “Wherever you are, trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t ignore those feelings.”
Havens said she also encourages students, females especially, to take advantage of the campus shuttle and police escort services after dark.
“Both of these services are available to all students, free of charge. We want you to feel safe,” Havens said. “If the shuttle’s not running, call the dispatch and ask for an escort.” Havens said the best way to prevent sexual assault is to be aware and alert of your surroundings at all times. “I also urge everyone to store the number to the campus police station in their cell phones.” (859-622-2821.)
The women taking the class learned background information about rape and sexual assault during their first day of class, and then proceeded to combative moves the following day, followed by “going against the Redman.”
Betsy Hagan, a freshman exercise science major and returning R.A.D. student, said she thinks fighting the “Redman” is a crucial part of the program.
“The officer dresses up in a red, padded, full-body suit and you put everything you’ve learned to use,” Hagan said. “You can see the success of the basic skills you’ve learned and it gives you the feeling of ‘Yeah, I can do this, any girl can learn to do this. It does work.'”
Allis Reppert, an Eastern alum, said she took the class to benefit her job as a health educator and her work with the public. Trish Cox, returning part-time student, said she took the class at the suggestion of her husband.
“He’s been suggesting that I take the class for awhile and I finally found the time.” Reppert and Cox said they decided to take the class together to increase their knowledge of self-defense.