Local police officers instruct female students

Marissa Barch, Copy Editor

Picture walking out of the mall heading to the car with the only source of light, the gloom from the moon. Giving a quick glance to your phone to see if anyone texted, you notice a notification pop up from Instagram DMs and open it to see what it says. Distracted, you’re unexpectedly grabbed from behind. How are you going to react to this? What actions would you take?

“Girls especially are raised to be nice and be quiet,” resource officer Leslie Heisler said. “Girls don’t realize the power they have to be able to stop these situations from happening.”

Power, according to Heisler, is a term that is often used to show an imbalance. However, girls can learn skills that can empower them.

Heisler is currently working with the Shelby Township Police Department to bring Rape Aggression Defense system to the area. A 24-hour course, R.A.D. is a national program that is taught all over the country, and is a self-defense course for women only. It will be taught by police officers themselves, including Heisler.

The program was recently featured on WDIV Local News Detroit, and several students were invited to demonstrate typical training.

“I would say Officer Leslie definitely taught us you can be physically prepared and strong, but mentally, you must be strong and always be aware of your surroundings,” senior Anneke Kauppila said. “I would definitely say that my mindset shifted to being more aware of the urgency of knowing how to protect yourself and be ready for any situation. The most important thing I learned is how urgent it is to constantly be prepared and strong. The world is evil and anything can happen and so preparing myself physically and mentally isn’t just important, it’s urgent.”

Not only is there a mental aspect to self-defense, but the tough physical aspect was taught, as well.

“It is important for girls to know certain self-defense tactics because girls especially are raised to be nice and to be quiet,” Heisler said. “We don’t realize we have the power that we do have, so as females get older we realize that people might want to take advantage of us, or try to hurt us, and we don’t know how to respond to that because of being raised to be nice and quiet.”

During the demonstration, the girls learned that they have to be ready for anything. They learned how to be quick on their feet.

“We learned a couple different techniques,” sophomore Alyssa Clark said. “The one that was the most powerful to me was that we learned if we are grabbed from behind to drop our weight to make us heavier to the attacker. We also learned the importance of using our voices.”

Many young women participate in this training to build confidence and take away fear.

“I took this training to learn more about how to defend myself in any situation if I do need help,” sophomore Samantha LoCricchio said. “It built my confidence because knowing how to defend myself made me feel more confident in being out on my own. I learned what to do if I am being attacked by anyone, no matter how they come at me, whether it is from the front or the back. It helped with feeling with more confident and feeling a little safer in places where I don’t.”

“Teaching a woman that they have the power to defend themselves gives them the power over their own safety,” Heisler said. “It is not hard to learn self-defense; it’s actually very easy. We teach about seven different moves that can protect you from all kinds of different scenarios so you can always be prepared for anything.”

In the short time spent with Heisler, the participants learned the importance of preparation. Senior Samantha LoCriccho enjoyed the opportunity and hopes to take the full course.

“I feel like parents want to protect their kids from the scary stuff and the dangers of the world. We want them to enjoy the world and not be scared of it, but we forget that there are monsters out there in this world,” Heisler said. “It’s important for high school women to understand this because some of you are getting ready to go off to college and maybe be on your own for the first time in your life, so you may not always have your family or people you’ve known forever around to protect you, so it is crucial that you know how to protect yourself.”