R.A.D. class empowers women at Mesa College

Gisela Lagos, Editor-in-Chief

Safety education and empowerment are the keys to help prevent women from becoming victims of rape, sexual assault or domestic violence and are taught during the Rape Aggression Defense course provided by the San Diego Community College District Police Department.

For the last 11 years Police Officer Cynthia Cavada has coordinated the R.A.D. courses at San Diego Mesa College, San Diego Miramar College and San Diego City College.  The classes focus on the principles of risk awareness, risk reduction, risk recognition and risk avoidance.  The lecture portion teaches how to minimize risk factors and the hands on portion gives women a good foundation on practical self-defense techniques.

“90 percent of self-defense are those risk factors,” said Cavada, “If you are aware it reduces your chances of becoming a victim … you recognize potential problems, which in turn you can avoid it.”

Instilling self-confidence and empowering women are positive outcome of the classes said Cavada.  It helps women reinstate self-dependency, teaches them to make their own decisions and provides the means to realize their own physical power.

Marina Kraskovic, an interior design and photography major at Mesa College, talked about how the R.A.D. class can help and change women.

“I think the women would be more aware of how they should protect themselves,” said Kraskovic “this way they can learn how to protect themselves … your parents don’t teach you that stuff”

The instructors are all certified in the Rape Aggression Defense Systems to teach the class.  R.A.D. Systems is an instructor course that requires a detailed knowledge in the lecture topics and self-defense program.  Cavada was certified as a coordinator 11 years ago and has maintained her certification by running classes, updating her knowledge with seminars and attending conferences.

The Mesa College campus police take a hand on approach to rape crimes as police officer walk victims through the process and work directly with the San Diego Police Department.

For rapes that are reported after DNA evidence is no longer available, the campus police provide a detailed information sheet to the victim, which contains a plethora of important resources. They help the victim with finding counseling services from the Health Services Department and they communicate with the San Diego Police Department.

Counseling and medical assistance are always available to students and they are ready to help with cases of rape or sexual assault.

Rape is not gender specific and knows no age, as thousands of women, men and minors are victims every year.  Approximately one out of every six women in the U.S. has been a victims of rape and one out of every 33 men report being raped, according to U.S. Department of Justice in their National Crime Victimization Surveys.

Unfortunately men are less likely to report incidences of rape, which leads to an under estimation of the actual amount of men who have been victims of rape.

“I think if a guy got raped he wouldn’t say anything about it,” said Mesa College student Prince Rugira.  Rugira said that it’s not something socially acceptable to discuss.

Many rapes are not counted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation because of the lax federal definition of rape, which only includes the forced “knowledge” of a woman.  While the 2010 Uniform Crime Report logs 84,767 sexual assaults there could be hundreds that have gone unreported and thousands that were not counted because they didn’t fit the definition.

The R.A.D. seminars average 20 students per class, but will accommodate up to 30 women.  With 11 instructors, some dressed as punching bags, Cavada is able to provide a healthy and safe environment for women to share, learn and practice a new found confidence.

The completion of the R.A.D. class gives the student the ability to take all other R.A.D. classes throughout the country free of charge as long as the student keeps the lecture book provided during class.

The R.A.D. classes held at the community colleges are available to women ages 12 and up who attend one of the colleges or live in the surrounding communities.

For information on R.A.D. classes for men visit their website www.rad.systems.com

Quick and Easy Safety Tips to Prevent Rape and Assault


  1. Be aware of your surroundings.  Walking with your cell phone to your ear keeps you from being able to look around and leaves you as an easy target.
  2. Walk yourself to your car.  With the school parking lot so spread out people may offer you a ride to your car so that they can take your parking spot.  This is an easy way for predators to attack or kidnap.
  3. Use the buddy system when you go out.  Having a friend who stays sober when you go out isn’t just for driving.  A sober friend can keep others from making mistakes that could lead to violence or acquaintance rape.
  4. Stay away from open containers.  It only takes seconds for someone to add an anesthetic to an open container.  It’s recommended that you get your own drinks when you are out and never leave your drinks unattended.
  5. Walk upright and with confidence.  Predators seek out easy targets as victims and will pass by an assertive looking person. Stand tall, make eye contact and look around when you walk or are in an unfamiliar environment.


Class Dates

Mesa College, Oct. 8 and Oct. 15 in room Q-100

City College, Oct 29. and Nov 5.

For information or to sign up for a class call Cynthia Cavada at 619-388-2749 or by e-mail at ccavada@sdccd.edu