HILLBURN, N.Y. -- If you stop by Thursday evening at the Joseph T. St. Lawrence Community Center you might see one of Ramapo Police Department's finest being beaten up.
He has studied martial arts and boxing, is a fitness trainer and works for the FBI. Still, police officer Omar Olayan wears a protective suit for the role-playing exercise he demonstrates in a weekly defense class underway at the center.
Learning to fight off an aggressor is the key to surviving an attack, said Olayan who tells the women in his class to fight back if they are attacked.
Women of all ages can join the program he hopes to bring to Suffern High School to prepare girls for being freshman on college campuses.
"The statistics of college rapes show it's very common. With the number of sexual assaults and rapes, it's something every woman should learn. My wife took the course and loved it."
Olayan is a R.A.D. (Rape, Aggression, Defense) certified instructor, a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and works with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. He teaches the course with Monika Sitarz, a R.A.D. certified instructor and 12-year veteran of the Ramapo Police Department.
"We start the program with a lecture the first class and every time I hear from someone who either knows someone or has been raped themselves."
The R.A.D. course includes lecture, discussion and self-defense techniques suitable for women of all ages and abilities. It teaches women awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance, and progresses to the basics of hands-on defense training.
The response to the training has been very positive, "amazing," Olayan said. "Every evaluation is excellent. I've done martial arts, boxing, street-fighting and I try to teach as much of my training I can in 12 hours so they can defend themselves."
Once a woman completes the course, she is eligible to sign up for R.A.D. again anywhere in the country to brush up and improve her self-defense skills.
The R.A.D. self-defense course is free.
There is still a chance to join Thursday's class.
Call the Village of Airmont to sign up at (845) 357-8111.The course runs Thursdays, Oct. 27, Nov. 3 and 11, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the center, 115 Torne Valley Road, Hillburn, N.Y.
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