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A small group of women listened Saturday morning as two Cole County Sheriff's representatives spent about 30 minutes explaining the RAD — Rape Aggression Defense — program.

Deputy Joe Matherne, who also is one of the sheriff's School Resource Officers, and civilian volunteer Matt Blotevogel are two of the six people who help train Mid-Missouri women in self-defense.

They told those attending the first-ever Women's Resource Fair, at the West Ridge Event Center, there's a similar program at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Matherne said most RAD programs are more likely to be found in metropolitan areas.

The RAD systems program began in 1989 by a man who was a former Marine and had a background in law enforcement.

"So all of the self-defense techniques and all of the information we give out to the students in the class come from a law enforcement (or) military background," Matherne said. "It's not just some crazy guy who just sits in his basement and decided to put some stuff together."

Although the national RAD program offers several different classes, he said, the Cole County classes are "only the basic self-defense class, which is just for someone who has no knowledge at all about self-defense or any type of situational awareness."

They've completed the classes for 2018, Matherne added, and haven't finalized the 2019 class schedule.

But people who are interested can find out more about the future dates by looking at the group's Facebook page —

Those with questions can contact Matherne at [email protected]

He said the classes are free, although some of the other RAD training programs around the country do charge for them.

The classes usually are offered every other month, starting in February and ending in October, Matherne said, and consist of four, 4-hour classes spread over two weeks.

Blotevogel, who comes to the training from a "traditional martial arts" background, added: "I think it's an incredibly important program.

"These are techniques that are basic — if you've been through martial arts, you may recognize them."

But part of the training is very physical.

Matherne noted: "Nothing works 100 percent of the time. (But) the body can't go where the brain has never been."

Practicing the skills and learning to think about them are keys to one's ability to defend themselves as best as possible when attacked, or when someone makes physical advances and won't take "no" for an answer, Matherne and Blotevogel said.

About a half-hour after the RAD presentation, Kallee Victor, of Jefferson City, talked about her representation with and for the company Damsel in Defense, which also focuses on "personal safety" products.

The company's mission statement says, in part: "My life is valuable and worth the fight. Those who are with me deserve to be protected, as well."

Victor said she got involved with the company after being a victim, herself — although she didn't provide specifics.

"Damsel in Defense is a company that is to empower, equip and educate women and their children," she said. "There's a whole other program for kiddos."

And the company sells self-defense products for men and women, she said.

Victor's talk about her company was just part of the six-hour event's activities — she also was one of two-dozen vendors stationed around the West Ridge Events Center during Saturday's event, which was organized by Meta Baughn, of Face to Face Community Connections, LLC.

Other vendors offered jewelry, cosmetics, clothing, food, massage therapy and other items.

"I've done a couple of these shopping fairs, but I wanted them to be more," Baughn told the News Tribune. "I've noticed there are a lot of resources that are valuable to a community that no one ever hears about.

"So, I wanted to combine these shopping fairs with something valuable they could come and get."

Saturday's event was her first, Baughn said.

"I'm just really getting my feet wet," she explained. "I know it's important that women do learn some of these resources.

"I understand what women need more — so I wanted to start out with something that was a little more familiar to me, and these are important resources (that are) mainly for women."

She's working on having a children's fair in Mid-Missouri this coming summer.

"I always like to get at least one nonprofit organization," Baughn said, voicing some disappointment that some organizations she had contacted weren't able to participate in Saturday's event.

"I wanted to let women know there's all kinds of resources out there," Baughn said. "This is wise, to get them started in their education or their career, that there's support out there."

Although she's done the "shopping fairs" in the past, Baughn said the vendor booths will be the side-benefit of future events, where the main attraction will be information — such as efforts to end human trafficking and details about recovery programs for people with addictions.

"Any organization I can get that will come in and speak about their local organization," Baughn said, "whether it's for career choices or education or sex-trafficking — or a combination of all of those" will be welcome.

She said her goal is to hold future events "all over the state. I started here because I'm originally from Jeff City — I have family here and I wanted to start here."

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