In response to residents' requests, the Bexley Police Department, the Bexley Citizens Police Academy and the Franklin County Sheriff's Office will offer a self-defense course in January that is designed to help women protect themselves from violent attacks.

Bexley police Sgt. Dawn Overly-Sheterom said enrollment is open for the Rape Against Defense program, which will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on four consecutive Wednesdays Jan. 10-31 at the Columbus School for Girls, 65 S. Drexel Ave.

RAD is a comprehensive, female-only course with a focus on awareness, prevention and risk reduction and avoidance, Overly-Sheterom said.

"I've had community members ask me about a self-defense course. At one point in time, we presented a women's self-defense class and it was very well-attended" but was eventually discontinued due to staff time constraints, she said.

"When Franklin County started this program, we thought it was perfect," she said.

To get credit for completing the course, participants must attend all the sessions, which will cover topics such as using verbal commands, body language and specific gestures to block physical attacks.

"Certified female deputies will be teaching the course," Overly-Sheterom said.

The need for self-defense programs for women is driven by national statistics, according to RAD program organizers. More than one in three women in the United States, or 35.6 percent, have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, according to RAD.

The RAD program is the only women's self-defense course endorsed by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and has proven to be popular throughout central Ohio, Overly-Sheterom said.

"It's in high demand," she said. "We called RAD at the beginning of the year and we couldn't get in until 2018."

The RAD program is open to participants age 12 and up; parents must sign permission slips for minors.

To enroll, contact Overly-Sheterom at 614-559-4456 or doverly@bexley.org.

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