POSTED: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 5:52pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 9:40am
Edinburg, TX — Every 24 seconds some kind of assault affects a woman in the United States, it’s a sobering statistic, but the UTPA police department is working to give women the tools to defend themselves, reporter Roxanne Lerma brings us that story.
Yvette Castro, UTPA’s victim services coordinator, wants female students to be able to strike back if they’re ever faced with a dangerous encounter, “We were having a lot of students come up, even faculty and staff that wanted to participate in some sort of self defense. We are a police department and so they know the police officers are trained in some sort of self defense and so they also wanted to have that so they can take that home with them.”
So Castro implemented RAD—or the rape aggression defense system. About a dozen students signed up for the self-defense sessions, among them freshman Keila Rios, “One of my friends, she is actually in this group, she told me that there was a self defense and I always wanted to learn so I came and I really like it now.”
Rios says the workshops that involve kicking—punching and calling out for help— have taught her to stay aware of her surroundings, “Sometimes I’m scared for myself and I would like to protect myself better in case of an emergency.”
Castro isn’t teaching the women how to fight, but rather how to break a grip and get away to seek help, “We are not weak. We can defend ourselves to some point, to defend ourselves and to get away. That’s the main purpose is to survive and to win and that’s what we are focusing on.”
According to Castro, women of any age or size can escape an attacker using some of the simple defensive moves. The key objective is self awareness, “We have a four hour class, and two hours is knowing yourself. Knowing yourself as a warrior and knowing yourself that you can defend yourself if the time arises that you have to; you have the ability to use those skills.”
Rios says the classes have given her a newfound sense of empowerment, “The stigma for women is that we’re weak and we’re not. We have so much power within us and I think this will give us the motivation and the knowledge that we can do this and we can protect ourselves even if we are in that situation.”
That attitude is exactly what Castro wants students take away from the RAD, “They’re going to gain self esteem. They’re going to become warriors. They’re going to be able to know what to do or at least remember something from here in order to get someone’s attention."
This is the third time the University Police Department has sponsored the RAD sessions.