Tuesday, March 18, 2008

From Behind Bars, Part XII, On RAD

I realize that I have kept you, my dear readers, awaiting my next installment with bated breath for far too long. And I am particularly excited to write to you all today about RAD, (Rape Aggression Defense) because it holds a dear, dear place in my heart. The place in my heart where ridiculous humor is stored. So here goes:

Once us prisoners have been inpatient for at least seven weeks, we are shipped off to RTC – the Residential Treatment Center – that is basically just another part of the top-security prison where we supposedly have a bit more “freedom,” which actually translates into having even more boring groups (methinks it was not possible!) and less therapy. But once on RTC, we got (or were made to, depending on your point of view) to participate in RAD. A few of the recreation therapists were certified in teaching us, and every Wednesday afternoon, it was time to get trained. We’d all go into the upstairs group room, push aside the chairs, and learn how to protect ourselves from rapists or robbers or whatever. Now for me, because I’m quite boisterous, this was not an issue. I’d cheerfully punch the rec therapists and scream “NO, you rotten bastard scumbag!!” at the top of my lungs. But for some of the more shy inmates, this was not an easy task. I’d slowly watch their faces and necks turn scarlet, and they’d pathetically take a swing at the rec therapist and weakly whisper, “no…?” I mean, if it were really a rapist trying to attack them, the poor things would have been overtaken in like 3.48 seconds. Or less, even.

I also suspect this training was somehow supposed to give us more self-esteem, because screaming in fake horror and taking a swing at someone who is actually really nice and in no way looks like a man, let alone a rapist, requires the skills of a seasoned actor. And I don’t know if actors really have self-esteem, but they sure act like they do. And acting like any of us have self-esteem is not a gift that any of us were really given. We were, however; given the gift of wanting to destroy ourselves and our bodies, and that in no way helps us protect ourselves from evil men wanting to steal our treasures.

So every week, we’d trudge up and learn how to accurately punch someone without breaking our thumbs, or the best ways to get away from someone if they’re lying on top of us, etc. Oh, by the way: this was especially humiliating, because when we were asked to partner up with someone to practice our new bad-ass skills, when it was my turn to lie/sit on top of them and wait for them to pull their sweet moves to throw me off, the whole time I’d just be apologizing for my heavily gross body on top of them. It made it incredibly difficult to think about raping someone when you are solely preoccupied with the fact you’re probably killing them with your mammoth frame, and you can’t stop theorizing that they probably think you weigh more than anyone else on the face of the earth, or at least in the room, and it sucks. Sucks big time. How can you be a proper rapist when you’re loathing yourself and not the person you’re supposed to be raping? It always posed a problem.

So, after the six or so weeks of training were completed, and we’d properly learned all the moves that will save us in a dire situation, it’s time to get tested so that we can officially be certified. And it’s not some fake kindergarten certificate they give you. It’s a for realsies certificate you get from the police department. I’m supposed to get it renewed every year, which means re-taking the course, which means sitting on top of someone again, which means being reminded of how heavy I am, which means NO WAY. So my certification has expired, but once, dear readers, yes once, I was an official certified RAD’er.

So D-Day had come. I think we were all a bit nervous, because actual policeman were coming to rape us. (Or I hope pretend to?) Now, these were not little squirrelly men whose thighs resembled string beans. No. These were huge men, who could easily have been sumo wrestlers on their days off. They were without doubt at least six-and-a-half feet tall, and seemed nearly as wide as they were tall. And to add to the terror, they were wearing huge black pads all over their bodies that were reminiscent of a transformer. And not one of the good ones. The evil ones that were trying to kill Shia LaBeouf.

So getting certified entailed essentially getting attacked and being able to defend yourself and get to safety. Getting to “safety” meant reaching a corner at the other side of the room that was outlined in masking tape. We were in the exercise room, and it wasn’t a small room, it was overwhelmingly big, especially that day. The transformers would give you a “situation” that you are in and would have to act out, and then the attack would begin. As you can see from the picture, we were required to wear a helmet and elbow and knee pads, because it got rough, and I more than a few times was picked up and thrown to the floor. Before I went in, I could hear girls ahead of me screaming their lungs off before getting thrown into a wall. I could also hear girls sobbing who had been traumatized in a real life similar situation, and that was always sad. But those damn transformers didn’t care one whit.

And now it’s my turn: I was more than a little nervous, I won’t lie. After watching girls exit the room battered and bruised, I knew that this was going to be harder than I had anticipated. The transformers shook my hand, then told me that my “situation” to act out was that I was at an ATM and and two rapists come up behind me and would start oogling my goodies. There was a rec therapist in the room refereeing with a whistle in case things got too out of hand. The only place I was not allowed to kick or punch the transformers was in the side of the knee, because the padding was weak and I could actually break their knee. The groin was fair game, and I knew my ticket to freedom lied therein.

So I’m facing the wall, pretending to punch buttons on the ATM, and I hear one of the transformers growl in a really scary voice filled with evil and testosterone: Hey, there. You look like a pretty bitch.
I swear on my life that is a direct quote. How could you forget something like that?! I was a little taken aback that the transformer, however evil, would actually say that to me, and I lost my guard. I mean, wasn’t this a game, after all? Suddenly I was picked up from behind and thrown to the ground. I could see the transformers lumbering toward me, and I screamed. Like for real screamed. Bloody murder, actually. I turned to the one on my left and kneed him in the groin as hard as I could, then punched the other one in the face. This didn’t seem to faze them, and they kept calling me a “feisty little bitch” and throwing me to the floor to try to pin me down. I was screaming help! and fire! because that’s what we had been taught, but I knew that no one was going to come rescue me, though at that point, I was entirely convinced these really were rapist transformers pretending to be cops. Now, even after a minute or two, I was incredibly winded, and that’s putting it lightly. Adrenaline and asthma and running and kneeing in the groin will make you really tired, especially when you’re already dizzy and in pain from getting thrown all over the place. But I didn’t give up, dangit. I kept fighting. And eventually I won! I got to safety!! I collapsed in my safe corner of masking tape and started crying. I think what I was most overwhelmed with was that these cops did not go easy on any of us at all – not even a little bit. There were some there who were really small and petite (though by then most of us had all gained our weight) and I can’t imagine what those giant oafs did to those poor girls. At least I was nearly six feet tall, I’m sure that gave me an edge, no doubt. But it was scary.

As soon as the transformers and I could catch my breath, they heartily congratulated me, telling me that I had been quite the little hellion and for sure would have scared away the rapists long before they could get my precious woman treasures. That made me feel good, though the bruises on my arms and legs begged to differ.

But it was actually incredibly empowering. And just so you know, all you voyeurs or potential rapists out there, blog stalking me, you can pass this bad-ass up. Cuz I will kill you with my mad, mad skills.


Abby said...

Good thing I'm the only one home right now because as I read this, I was hooting, gasping, and choking with laughter. RAD. Augh! I think I've blocked out my memory of fighting the police officers... I don't really remember the details of what happened, but I do seem to recall the whole event being awkward, humiliating, and generally disagreeable. Okay, but what I really want to say is this: I was at the campus police department a couple of weeks ago waiting to get fingerprinted for a background check for a volunteer job, and I was just sort of looking around at all the brochures and posters around the room... and to my great horror, there was one for RAD. Turns out I can conveniently re-experience this form of torture at my own local university! Well, remember how the rec therapists were always telling us that we should keep our RAD binders so we could take more RAD classes for free after we got out of CFC? I threw mine away immediately, and believe me, I don't regret doing so.

KC Elaine said...

WOW! We never did RAD when I was there, I think I just missed it, but dang! I've always wondered about it and kind of wish I had more defenses, but you scared me off just like you scared them bad coppers/rapists off.

aLana said...

STAND DOWN! STAY BACK! NO! NO! NO! complete with the practice arm blocks on each "no!" yikes. bless their hearts, but i freaking hated that course! thanks for making it so funny to relive it though!

Jamie :) said...

I totally took that course in college and it scared the crap out of me to have our instructor all dressed up as a giant lobster (his suit was red...not black). He didn't go easy on us either. I was completely astounded and the things he said to me. But it only made me more mad. Wow. You described it so perfectly (and way more funny!) We had one girl pretend that she was going to throw up--and he believed her so he didn't get near here. She had it the easiest because it totally faked him out.

Paige said...

I didn't do RAD at the Center but I was supposed to for some volunteer training I had when I was a rape counselor--only for them, instead of acting it out, the final test was to be "attacked" in real life (by trainers pretending to be rapists)--you didn't know when or where they would show up for the test. I said, sorry, I'm not doing that! Too scary. I love your writing though (glad those transformers didn't get your precious woman treasures!)

racher said...

all i know is that my RAD experience is second only to NIA at the center. tracy would always try and get me to yell but i would half-heartedly swing at her and only mumble something (never the word "no".. because that's what she wanted) in order to have my turn be over. then all that hugging and touching and attacking. i don't like people to touch me... so i would always try and find someone to be my partner who was the same and we would pretend we did all the moves... as little effort as possible and then only when the rec therapists where paying attention. why do terrible things always have acronyms?

Stacy & Ryan said...

wow... that's pretty much all i can muster... wow

Devon said...

Oh my oh my - do I remember this! You totally brought me back to that day. Only difference was that one of the police officer/rapists couldn't make it that day so Kara dressed up in the other costume. That made it a little better - teehee.

Sigh - that made my night :D

Bowles Family said...

Wow. That was my favorite installment by far. You really are such an amazing writer and portrayed that so accurately. I don't think I ever got the full benefit of RAD since I wasnt a certified instructor and was pregnant pretty much the whole time it was being taught, so I couldnt totally participate. Oh well. I'm glad you found it empowering!

brie said...

Hey - is anyone up with me to take another RAD class? ...JUST KIDDING!!!

Rachel - I totally forgot about your underwhelming performance as a RAD'er. How did you survive with those transformers?

Abs - I remember you in RAD, too! I found it all quite disagreeable as well, but I do remember you kicking those cops ass. :)

Dev - Kara was your evil transformer? Pssh. I totally could've kicked her trash in like five seconds. Was she a total pushover?

KC Elaine said...

ps I totally love the knee-to-groin shot

Keely said...

that was the coolest blog yet! I am in awe of your mad skills...