According to the World Health Organization, one in three women have experienced some sort of physical or sexual violence in their lives.

A four week long class geared toward women is about awareness prevention and risk avoidance. The goal is to teach women to escape an attacker and survive.

This isn’t your typical workout class.

“It’s very important that they learn how to fight back with the tools we can give them,” Kayla Apple said.

Apple is an investigator with the Albany County Sheriff’s Department. She also teaches the county’s Rape Aggression Defense, or RAD class.

It’s all about teaching women to defend themselves when they’re at their most vulnerable and it’s completely free for any woman in Albany County who wants to take it.

“Learning different techniques on how to get out of situations that might put them in danger and how to fight back for their lives,” Apple said.

It could happen to you on a run through the park, as you’ve finished your grocery shopping, or even at your workplace.

For the women in the RAD class, they’re learning to ward off a trained attacker in a controlled environment. That’s where David Poole comes in.

“It’s geared toward women. Toward the way women’s bodies are made and their strengths,” Poole said.

He plays an aggressor and helps women in the class practice their skills once they’re ready.

“We’re trying to give them the most realistic opportunity to use the skills that they’ve learned in a safe controlled environment.”

Apple has been teaching the class for more than four years now. She says after she went through the training, she was hooked.

“It’s empowering. I felt stronger through it and I realized even as being a police officer taking a tool belt that I have off,” Apple said. “I still have a bunch of tools I can use to defend myself.”

She says it’s an even better feeling to be able to pass those skills onto other women.

“It makes me feel very humbled to know I can give these women empowerment and tools and I can save their life.”

Poole says the part he plays is equally as important.

“I’ve got sisters, a mother, grandmother, girlfriend, daughters I see the benefit that the class has to women of all ages,” Poole said.

He says he’s always surprised to see what the women who go through the class can do by the end.

“You can’t sit there and look at the group and say this one is going to hurt and this one is going to hurt because probably the one sitting over there is going to hurt you the worst.”

Apple says she sees the difference in them too.

From the first week and all the way to the very last class is when everything comes together.

“They’re really shy in the first class and then we have it a month long and by the end of it they are loud and energetic and they’re a whole different person I feel like,” Apple said.

It’s not just physical lessons some of what rad teaches are things that women can change right away.

“If you’re doing a pattern to stop doing your pattern, whether you go to the grocery store every day or you go out for a run,” Apple said.

She also recommends being aware of potentially dangerous places or people.

“People who may be at the mall or going through dark parking lots. College campuses when no one is around, unfamiliar areas, bus stops, trains, and taxis.”

The class fills up fast and you can register online.

If you don’t live in Albany County, the class is offered in several surrounding counties.

RAD program locator:

Albany County RAD program: