The Franklin, TN Police Department teaches women and teens self-defense

The Franklin, TN Police Department teaches women and teens self-defense

The Franklin, TN Police Department teaches women and teens self-defense

Gina Ross of Williamson County didn’t think about learning different grips and techniques to stop a physical attack before taking self-defense classes.

But according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women in the United States have experienced or will experience some form of physical violence from an intimate partner. And in Tennessee, a 2019 statistic found that 22 out of 25 sexual assault victims were women.

Ross said she doesn’t want to become a statistic.

That’s why she recently enrolled in a weekend program with the Franklin Police Department, where she not only learned how to stop a potential attacker, but also how to be more aware of her surroundings, so hopefully she can prevent a attack before it starts, she said.

Since they began more than 16 years ago, the Franklin Police Department’s Rape Defense (RAD) classes have helped hundreds of women like Ross.

The three-part, nine-hour courses are designed to educate women about awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance, and provide hands-on self-defense training with experienced police officers.

“There’s a big difference in confidence and the way they talk and the way they look around the room,” said Franklin Police Department Lt. Amy Butler, the program leader, of the women who complete the training. Butler has led the program since its inception

“Participants leave this experience with a renewed sense of confidence that they can avoid or defeat an attacker. We just show them how.”

During the course, participants cover a variety of topics.

“On the first night, we talk about risk avoidance, risk reduction and target strengthening. It’s about practical ways to stay safe and how to project confidence,” Butler said. “The second night is more of a skills practice as they learn kicks and shots. (And) the third night is scenarios, where they get to practice what they’ve learned.”

Unlike many programs, participants as young as 14 can join.

Butler says there’s a reason for that.

“So many bad things can happen in high school,” she said. “I think it’s really important to incorporate self-defense skills, especially when mothers and daughters can take the classes together.”

According to RAINN (National Rape, Abuse and Incest Network), one in nine girls and 1 in 20 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault.

The classes for this high school age group are important to Butler because she has witnessed the benefits of the training firsthand, she said.

“We’ve had cases in the past where we’ve had RAD students who were high school seniors that we then end up with on calls,” she said. “One that comes to mind is a former student who was attacked by her ex-boyfriend and managed to get the guy off of her.”

For past participants like Ross, programs like RAD are incredibly important to helping women of all ages feel comfortable in their abilities.

“I think every woman should take this program.” she said. “I would recommend it to everyone because it is functional and usable for every age and ability level.”

The Franklin Police Department offers RAD classes in February, May, June and July, but can also host groups as needed.

For more information or to register or schedule a class, contact Lt. Amy Butler at [email protected].