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Rape Aggression Defense Program

Self-defense class helps empower victims

5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Published: 02:36PM April 19th, 2018

5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Security officer Stacey Barnes practices punches in a Rape Aggression Defense class on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in September.

Where to find help

Suffering from domestic violence or abuse or sexual harassment assault? Call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647 or the DOD Safe Helpline at 1-877-995-5247.

To report and get help recovering from incidents of sexual assault or harassment on JBLM, contact your unit’s victim advocates or the SHARP helpline at 253-389-8469.

For five years, Spc. Theresa Petters was a victim of domestic violence. She developed severe anxiety from the abuse she suffered at home. Even after finding the courage and strength to leave her husband, Petters said her confidence was shaken and destroyed.

When Petters, a Soldier with the 46th Aviation Support Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, saw the opportunity to take a self-defense course for women on base, she knew this was a chance to reclaim her self-assurance.

“I wish for no one to have an experience where they have to use self-defense skills to survive,” Petters said. “But I feel more secure, and if something happens to me again, I have the confidence that I will be able to plan how to react.”

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month to raise awareness around the commitment to recognize and stop situations that can escalate to sexual assault.

The Rape Aggression Defense program, called RAD, is a nonmilitary program that trains instructors to teach a specific self-defense system, specifically designed to protect against sexual assault.

Classes for women are scheduled for Monday through Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a class for men is scheduled for Thursday and April 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., both at the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Training Center gymnasium on base.

This will be the first time a RAD course specifically for men has been offered on JBLM.

These free two-day classes are taught by certified instructors Scott Acosta, the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention victim advocate for the 62nd Medical Brigade on JBLM, Lance Posner, the joint base SHARP victim advocate for the garrison SHARP office and Lisa Barron, the SHARP victim advocate for the 404th Army Field Support Brigade.

Acosta said the program, divided into all-women and all-men classes, is designed for a variety of people, including those who have experienced trauma, want to learn about self-defense to feel less vulnerable and want to increase their self-esteem.

“Women are not weak, despite what social programming has taught them,” Acosta said.

In addition to teaching different series of punches, kicks, blocks and escape tactics in a classroom setting, the program includes a simulation portion for the students to put together everything they learned.

Student Stacey Barnes went first, enthusiastically throwing jabs at Acosta and escaping his grip. She spent every break in the class practicing the combative moves before the simulation.

“Every time, I prove to myself what I really can do,” Barnes said. “Just because women are often targeted doesn’t mean we don’t have the strength and the force to speak up and do something.”

Holly Cook, a work-from-home seamstress and mother to three daughters, also took the course to feel empowered.

As an Army spouse, Cook said she wants to break the stigma that women, particularly housewives, are “defenseless.”

“My fear is that when my husband is at work or deployed, people know I’m home alone,” Cook said. “I want to feel comfortable knowing that I have a better chance with the skillset taught if a situation did happen. I want to be able to show my daughters how to protect themselves.”

On JBLM, RAD classes are offered once per quarter, or when requested by a unit. The course is open to all active duty service members and their family members over the age of 13.

To sign up for RAD classes on JBLM, visit