'RAD' classes take women's self defense to new level


"My grandmother, she was a victim of domestic violence. Her ex-husband, he had threatened her numerous times," Houstonian Nina Harrison said. "He had gotten physically abusive before and shoved her around, pushed her around and then at one point, he did pull a gun on her."

It's the kind of thing a kid never forgets. And Harrison promised it would never happen to her.

Harrison and dozens of other women argent taking just any self defense class, they're there for what's considered the most aggressive. It's called RAD, or Rape Aggression Defense.

It's a 15-hour, five-day course combining classroom and combat. It's intense, requires "no fear" and shuns cameras. In order to learn what RAD is really about, we had to suit up and leave our cameras behind.

"Most of these techniques are about surprise, and we don't want to give anything away to a would-be-attacker," Pasadena Police Department Officer Craig Hamilton said.

Colleagues with the Pasadena Police Department join others around the country teaching women, ages 11 to 85, techniques to defend themselves in any situation.

"To help them just stun and run," Hamilton said.

Hamilton says because the "bad guys" could be watching, he did not talk specifics, but he did share what he believes are easy ways to deter a would-be-attacker.

First, make eye-contact.

"You let them know through eye-contact, I do see you. A lot of times that is going to deter somebody from attacking because they don't want you to see them coming," Hamilton says.

If they do keep coming, he says, take a deep breath and give a strong verbal response.

"It's coming from the gut," Hamilton says. "'Stay back! I don't know you!' Just loud and controlled. It's not screaming, the old 'Help!' but it's from the gut and it's strong and confident."

But if things take a turn for the worse, the secret moves taught by the RAD instructors are meant to help women fight back and safely run away.

"They are already confident that they are going to do something to you, and you have to be confident that you are not going to allow that to happen," Hamilton says.

It worked to build Harrison's confidence. She hopes she'll never encounter the kind of violence her grandmother did, but if she does, she'll be RAD ready.

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