Author: Heather Maggs

Desperate Housewives Learn Self-Defense

OK, so I have been FORCING myself to watch the entire series of Desperate Housewives.  I can’t honestly tell you why other than to say that I am very goal driven and by God when I start something, I finish it.  I have suffered through murders, miscarriages, plane crashes, suicide attempts – all the gold standard events for a soap opera.  And last night I caught an episode where the ladies decide to take a self-defense class.

Ok, first can we agree that this may possibly be the worst format for a self-defense class ever?  The instructor makes like 30 seconds of intro and then tells the students to choke each other from behind while he just walks around watching.  Huh?

But the real thing that caught my attention on this episode was a quote from Susan “may be the worst mother/most annoying TV character ever” Mayer-Delfino’s daughter Julie.  In this episode, she is dealing with the emotions brought on by a recent attack in which a masked stranger attempted to strangle her.  As the women of Wisteria Lane determine that they are going to take a self-defense class, Julie says something along the lines of “I was taking out the trash when someone came out of no where and choked me from behind.  If someone wants to get you, they are going to get you.  No matter what you do.”

I had to think about this a lot because in a way, she is right. There are some situations where fighting back isn’t possible.  And we may never know exactly what percentage of attacks can be thwarted by self-protection and what percentage can’t.

But here’s the thing: Couldn’t we use that rationale for anything?  What about all the thousands of people who get CPR and first aid training each day?  Couldn’t we just say “well, if someone is going to die, they are going to die so why bother”?  Couldn’t we say that for ANY medical intervention?  Of course not.  Because we KNOW that those things save people’s lives.  We see and hear about it everyday.  We don’t hear about success stories in self-protection nearly as often, but they are out there.  At Girls Fight Back, we strive to share and celebrate those successes every time we hear about them.  If you see a story in the media or have a personal story you’d like to share, we’d love for you to e-mail us or share in the comments below.

In reality, I may never use the countless hours of training I’ve gone through.  If I’m lucky, I’ll never have to really physically defend myself.  But going through self-defense training is so much more for me than just knowing how to kick someone’s butt if needed.  It’s about carrying myself with confidence.  It’s about sleeping easier at night.  It’s about being my own badass so that I never have to rely on someone else to take care of me.  And it’s about never giving up hope because if something terrible were to happen to me, I would do everything in my power and might to protect myself and the people I love.

I close with my Personal Safety Tip of the Day: don’t live on Wisteria Lane.  That neighborhood has a disproportionately high amount of violent crime.  Like whoa.

Let’s Hear it for the Boys!

I had such a great time yesterday at the University of South Carolina – Lancaster campus.  I presented a lunchtime Students Fight Back program and I have to say, it was the BEST lunchtime crowd I’ve ever had!

At each school we meet awesome women and men who are all working to make their campuses safer.  My SBG at USC, Cory, was just the nicest guy you ever did meet!

Doesn’t he just look so friendly?!?  So often in violence prevention, we are forced to focus on the statistical reality that men are more likely to perpetrate violent crimes than women are, but when I meet guys like Cory it reminds me that there are good guys everywhere!

Feel free to give a shout out to the good guys in your life in the comments below!

My Story – Costa Rica

Really, it should be “one of my stories” because there have been many times in my life that I have had to use the things we teach.  But I would like to share with you, dear readers, a story about an experience I had just over a year ago in Costa Rica.

I was on a dream vacation.  I spent a week in what could arguably be the most beautiful country in the world.  It certainly is the happiest country I’ve ever been to.  Through my week there, I went zip-lining and white water rafting, I saw volcanos and hiked waterfalls.  It was glorious and for the last two days of my trip, I hung out at a super amazing beach resort in Manuel Antonio.  The people of Costa Rica were amazingly friendly and it wasn’t until the last day of my trip that I had a not so pleasant experience with one of them…

I had talked briefly the day before to a local man who told me his name was Oscar.  He was very kind and helped me find some beautiful seashells to take home.  So when I saw him at the beach the next afternoon, I was excited to see a friendly face.  I said hello and he hugged me, which didn’t feel awkward, but at the end of the hug, he pulled me back into him and kissed me on the cheek.  It was uncomfortable and lingering, but I shrugged it off as a cultural thing.  We started to walk down the beach talking but once we were out of the view of the security guard, he started touching me.

He was rubbing my arms and chest and he put his hands on my hips.  All the while, he was talking to me in Spanish.  Now, if he had been speaking English, I don’t think I would have hesitated, but my mind raced as I was trying to interpret what he was saying.  I tried to think of how to get him off of me without making a scene on the beach.  I started saying “Alto.  No,” but he kept talking and I tried to understand what he was saying.  I heard him say something about my white skin and how white skin was his favorite.  He said something about white and black (referring to his darker skin) being beautiful together and suddenly, I realized that there was nothing to interpret or understand.  This man was making me uncomfortable and touching me in a way that was inappropriate.  So if there had to be a scene, there would be a scene.  I found my voice and got louder saying “NO!  ALTO!’  (meaning NO! STOP!).  He backed off and I calmed down.

And here’s where my instinct kicked in, he told me to keep walking down the beach.  He said that he was going to get a joint for us to smoke and a beer for me to drink (which is hilarious because I don’t do drugs or drink beer ever – what can I say? I’m a wine and cheese kinda gal).  He told me that when I was back from down the beach, we would smoke and drink and touch.  I finally just said ok so that he would leave (feigned compliance is a technique we often talk about in advanced self-defense classes).  As I kept walking down the beach, I realized that he had cut off my only exit and was still watching me as I walked.  If I stopped walking or turned around, he started towards me.  I started trying to think of how I was going to get out of this mess.

Eventually, I noticed that he wasn’t there anymore.  Without thinking twice, I took off running down the beach.  I ran past the security guard.  As I did, I saw Oscar there starting to follow me, but I just kept running and running back to my room.  There I showered and cried because I had been so scared.  But I was safe.  It hadn’t been pretty and it didn’t feel good, but I had survived a potentially dangerous situation by using my voice and my brain.

When I think back on this situation, I remember that moment where my training took over; when I stopped overthinking the situation, trying to be nice, trying to give this guy the benefit of the doubt.  Our society tells us to be kind, don’t make a scene, etc.  And even with my advanced training, it took a few minutes before I could shut that out and focus on being safe.  At times that has embarassed me.  I’ve even had friends question why I didn’t react sooner or put him in his place the first second he started making me uncomfortable.  But all-in-all, I know that I acted in a way that kept me from further harm.  And I’m grateful for the training I used to keep this scary and potentially dangerous situation from going any further.

I know that many of us (or maybe even all of us) have stories like this.   They are triumphs!  If you have a story you’d like to share, please feel free to comment.

Media Perceptions of Self-Protection: My Little Pony

As the mother of a four year old girl, I spend about one hour a day suffering through a child’s television program. The only TV I really let my daughter watch is one or two episodes of something she gets to choose each morning.  This is an event which I lovingly call “the snooze button”.  Lately, she has been digging My Little Pony.

Now, as a child I was obsessed with My Little Pony (as well as Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite), but the 2.0 version of the show, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to entertaining me.  Whatev.  She enjoys it and that makes me happy.

I generally try to get a little more sleep while she is cuddled up next to me in bed watching the show, but this past week, we watched a re-run of an episode that made me pay attention.  Let me set the scene:

Rarity is a fashion designing unicorn who loves pretty things.  One day a pop star pony named Sapphire Shores comes into her dress shop (God, I can’t believe I’m actually writing this…) and orders 7 pony pantsuits each covered in a different jewel.  So Rarity takes Spike (a baby dragon who has a crush on her – don’t ask) and they head out to find as many jewels as the possibly can.

Now, this is where it gets serious.

While hunting for jewels, Rarity is abducted by a pack of dogs who want to put her to work hunting jewels for them.  She is kept in an underground dungeon and forced to find and dig up jewels.  Now, under any circumstances, that is some pretty intense stuff for a kids’ TV show.  Her friends are all out, desperately trying to find her.  Spike is trying to be her knight in shining armor to sweep in and save her.

But Rarity is a particularly prissy unicorn and she does not like having to ruin her hoof polish by digging.  She complains and makes so much trouble that by the time everyone jumps into the dungeon to rescue her, the dogs are begging them to take her and all the jewels they want too.

Now, I have no idea what to think about that whole escaping abduction technique, but at the end of the episode, the ponies wrapped up the story with this dialogue (actual transcript from the show):

Pinkie Pie: I can’t believe you got all these gems!

Rainbow Dash: Heh. I can’t believe you tricked all those dogs.

Rarity: Just because I’m a lady doesn’t mean I cannot handle myself in a sticky situation. I had them wrapped around my hoof the entire time.

Twilight Sparkle: I can’t wait to write to Princess Celestia to tell her what you taught me today.

Rarity: Me? What did I teach you?

Twilight Sparkle: Just because somepony is ladylike doesn’t make her weak. In fact, by using her wits a seemingly defenseless pony can be the one who outsmarts and outshines them all.

Spike: Hm… “Outshines” is right. Now you have enough gems to cover Sapphire Shores’s costumes.

Rarity: Not if you eat them all, Spike.

[laughter]

[credits]

Now, I still have no clue how to even process what I’ve just seen and heard, but “Just because somepony is ladylike doesn’t make her weak. In fact, by using her wits a seemingly defenseless pony can be the one who outsmarts and outshines them all.”

All I can say is….Word, Twilight Sparkle.  Word.

USD Coyotes have got BITE!

There really are no words to express how deeply I fell in love with the wicked awesome gals of University of South Dakota.  They came, they laughed, they whooped tail, they stole my heart.

BTW, this was our fall kickoff!  And we’ve started something new this year…live tweeting!  You can check out the tweets at hashtag #BYOB12 and while you are there, make sure you are following us @girlsfightback.  Holla!

What’s the Buzz? Rihanna

So, Rihanna did an interview with Oprah and the world is all a buzz.

One of the chief topics of the interview was Chris Brown, their past (and current?) relationship, and the assault that left Rihanna bruised and bloodied in February 2009.  I’ve copied some of the most talked about quotes here for those of you who maybe have not seen the interview:

“I was hurt the most. Nobody felt what I felt…It happened. It happened to me…It was embarrassing. It was humiliating. It was hurtful. I lost my best friend…Everything I knew, was switched in a night”-Rihanna remembers the night Chris Brown attacked her in 2009.

“I felt protective…as angry as I was…I just felt like he made that mistake because he needed help and who’s going to help him?”-Rihanna’s initial reaction to feeling bad for Chris.

“We’ve been working on our friendship again. Now we’re very very close friends. We built a trust again. We love each other and probably always will… I’m single but we’ve maintained a very close friendship”-On her current relationship with Chris.

“It’s awkward. It’s awkward because I still love him…My stomach drops and I have to maintain this poker face and not let it get to the outer part of me. I have to maintain that and suppress it”-on having funny feelings when she still sees Chris Brown (as recent as this summer in St. Tropez)

“Absolutely. I think he was the love of my life. He was the first love. I see that he loved me the same way. We were very young and very spontaneous. We ran free; we ran wild. We were falling in love and going at a really rapid pace that we forgot about ourselves”-Rihanna reveals that Chris Brown was a true love of her life.

“I truly love him so the main thing for me is that he is at peace. I’m not at peace if he’s a little unhappy or he’s still lonely…I care”-Rihanna on her now feelings for Chris Brown.

Personally, I am so torn by these feelings Rihanna still has for this man who beat her.  I want her to hate him.  I want her to never speak to him again, but unltimately it isn’t my life.  And having worked in a domestic violence shelter for 2 years when I was just out of college, I’m not surprised.  She isn’t saying anything I haven’t heard before.

Everyone who comes out of an abusive relationship has a cycle of feelings and emotions to go through.  Rihanna has had the unique circumstance of having to live this trauma in front of all of us; in front of the world, really.  It can’t be easy for her.  In the interview, she also said that she had forgiven Chris.  The question of whether or not her fans can forgive him isn’t really one she can be concerned with right now.  She has to focus on her life and her direction. I hope that somewhere along the way, she finds the peace she wishes for him.

What’s the Buzz? Todd Akin

Ok, I think by now most folks have heard about Congressman (and Republican Senate nominee in Missouri) Todd Akin’s comments when asked about the legality of abortion in cases of rape.  If you haven’t, here’s the quote:

Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things,  well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical  question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare.  If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole  thing down.

But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not  attacking the child.

Now, if you are curious about the factually of Mr. Akin’s statement about the rareness of pregnancy resulting from rape, here are the results of a study from the Medical University of South Carolina:

OBJECTIVE:

We attempted to determine the national rape-related pregnancy rate and provide descriptive characteristics of pregnancies that result from rape.

STUDY DESIGN:

A national probability sample of 4008 adult American women took part in a 3-year longitudinal survey that assessed the prevalence and incidence of rape and related physical and mental health outcomes.

RESULTS:

The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. Among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator. Only 11.7% of these victims received immediate medical attention after the assault, and 47.1% received no medical attention related to the rape. A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion.

CONCLUSIONS:

Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency. It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence. As we address the epidemic of unintended pregnancies in the United States, greater attention and effort should be aimed at preventing and identifying unwanted pregnancies that result from sexual victimization.

Now, putting aside all feelings related to abortion, I just want to ask one thing.  Can we please, please, PLEASE stop putting modifiers on the word rape?  There is no such thing as “forcible rape” or “legitimate rape” or my personal favorite “rape rape” (thanks, Whoopi!).  Yes, I understand that we use terms like “date rape” and “statutory rape” to clarify the circumstances of an assault, but the bottom line is that a rape is a rape is a rape.  Can we stop making judgement calls related to the “legitimacy” of a rape?  Please?

Mickey Shunick: A Warrior and A Hero

GFB Megan brought this story to my attention.  It brought me to tears, but the words of this brave woman’s family lifted me back up.

“My sister, Mickey Shunick, was a warrior,” Shunick’s sister, Charlene “Charlie” Shunick, wrote. “If it wasn’t for her, our community never would have been able to bring down a dangerous man that harmed multiple people.”

Shunick’s mother, Nancy Anne Rowe, wrote, “She refuses to be a victim. My courageous child faced down a monster. Now I think I can face monsters too. And so can you.”

The entire GFB family sends our love and prayers to this family.

Media Perceptions of Self-Protection: The Newsroom

I’m currently playing catch up on a several different TV shows, one of which is The Newsroom (the HBO/Aaron Sorkin show about a TV Newroom ala CNN/MSNBC).  A few of my friends are really into it and I’ve watched about four episodes so far.  I haven’t really been loving it as much, but I’m determined to stick with it a few more episodes before forming a final opinion.

I recently caught Episode Four entitled “I’ll Try to Fix You”, which centers around the issue of gun control.  Now, I’m not a big fan of guns.  I’ve learned to shoot various types and I’ve learned how to defend myself against one just as all GFB speakers have, but one particular scene in this episode made me sit up and go “what?!?!”

Will (the lead character played by Jeff Daniels) is out on a date with Carrie (Kathryn Hahn).  They have made their way back to his place for a little post-date fun when she mentions that she has some pot in her purse.  She tells him to grab it out of the front pocket while she goes to slip into something more comfortable.  When he opens her purse, there is a little pearl-handled pistol staring up at him.

Will is now visibly disappointed and calls Carrie to him like a father disciplining a naughty child.  While chastising to her, he disarms the gun and tosses the bullets into her purse.  She grabs the now harmless weapon from him and says something along the lines of “you have your opinion, but if someone confronts me, I’m going to be able to protect myself”.  His response?  “That’s ridiculous because we know that in reality this is what would happen…” then he reaches up and knocks the gun out of her hand.  He catches it like an expert and points it back at her.

Now all that dialogue is paraphrased, but when I heard what he said to her, I actually said outloud, “No!  That is not statistically accurate!”

As we’ve been revamping the Girls Fight Back website and preparing to launch our Fall 2012 tour, Erin, Megan, Bree, the rest of the gang, and I have been discussing how difficult it can be to market the idea of self-protection or self-defense.  And part of that difficulty comes from the fact that a LOT of people simply don’t believe that it works.  They just don’t believe someone can successfully fight back against an attacker.   Particularly that a woman can fight back against a male attacker.

During these discussions, Erin helpfully pointed us towards the work of a man named Dr. Gary Kleck. Dr. Kleck has dedicated most of his career to investigating violent incidents, and measuring how victims’ reactions to the assault affect the end result.   Now you can read the entire 77-page study paper he released if you want, but here’s the CliffNotes version as Erin gave it to me before I was able to read the document myself:

-Research shows that self-protection (SP) is very effective in preventing the completion of a rape.

-SP efforts, both forceful and non-forceful, reduce the odds of an attack ending in rape.

-SP is effective, whether the offender is a boyfriend or a stranger.

-SP is effective, even if he is drunk or drugged.

-SP is effective, even against multiple attackers.

-SP is effective, even in attacks happening at home, or at night.

-Injuries, especially serious ones, are rare in situations where people are defending themselves.

-If you fight back, you are statistically NOT more likely to get hurt (as opposed to non-resistance).

-It’s quite the opposite…you are LESS LIKELY to get hurt if you fight back.

-Conclusion: Fighting back reduces the risk of the rape, and does not increase your risk of injury!

Now, you may be asking “what happens when you add guns into the mix?”  Well, the US Department of Justice released this little fun fact in 2002.

*A fifth of all victims defending themselves with a firearm suffered an injury, compared to almost half of those who defended themselves with weapons other than a firearm or who had no weapon.

Now, I’m not trying to encourage you to run out and buy a gun.  I don’t own one and I don’t ever intend to.  All I’m trying to point out is that SELF-PROTECTION WORKS!  We have to stop buying into the myth that we as women can’t protect ourselves.  Yes, we have to be knowledgeable and that’s why GFB always recommends training whether that be standard self-defense training or weapons training, but we have power!  And choosing to use that power in violent situations DOES make a difference.

Keep tuning into the blog for success stories about women using their power (including a story of my own) and more insights from popular media (My Little Pony – what!?!?!).

Spring Tour Wrap-up 2011

I really have no idea how to even begin to summarize this semester’s tour.  It was my busiest tour to date.  I travelled as far south as Pensacola, FL and as far north as Lake Placid, NY and did return gigs at 3 of my favorite schools.  I visited my alma mater and had my best friend from high school show up to a program.  It was a whirlwind of travel, meeting awesome students and advisors and lots of fun along the way.  So without any furthur ado, here are my top ten moments from the spring tour.

10) On my visit to Austin Peay State University, I took a little break from spreading girlpower to check out the Country Music Hall of Fame.  I’m not a huge fan of country music, but that Tammy Wynette exhibit had me singing.

9) Late night programming can be tricky,but one school that has really figured out the magic formula is Elon University.  They had a great turnout for their late night program and what was the trick?  Chicken fingers!  Their student planning committee was a lot of fun the work with.

8) Several schools I visited this semester had really good anti-violence campaigns.  One of those schools was Monroe Community College.  They were our final stop on the tour and they had a ton of great events going on.  They even had their student planning committee do some skits before the program about date rape, sexual harassment and stalking.  It was a great way to bring those issues into our discussion and kick off the program with some great energy and information.

7)  I really got to see some beautiful campuses this spring.  One of the most striking was Spring Hill College.  The campus has a fantastic mix of original buildings that have been refurbished and modern buildings.  It is the quintessential Southern college campus and the sorority women there rock!

6)  When I got on campus at UNC- Asheville, I checked in on Facebook Places. Twenty minutes later guess who showed up at my program?  My best friend from high school! I hadn’t seen her in years and having her in the audience was such a joy as was catching up over sushi later that evening.  I love little surprises like that on the road.

5)  I’d been watching our fan count on Facebook most of the semester and after a presentation in Virginia….baam!….we hit 4,000 fans! And we love everyone of you guys!  Thanks for your support!

4) North Country Community College systems brought me in to do programs at three of their campuses.  Not only were the programs wicked fun, but the Lake Placid/Saranac Lake area was incredible beautiful.  It was the beginning of April, but man, it SNOWED! Like a LOT! And this little southern girl was thoroughly impressed.

3) Three different schools brought me back for a second program this semester.  One of them was the totally awesome group at Saint Catherine’s Catholic High School.  Those girls are a blast!  And unlike my program there a year ago, I didn’t have to wear a bikini instead of underwear this go around.  But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

2) Meeting amazing young people who are passionate about ending violence is just another incredible part of the job.  At Northern Illinois University, I met a wonderful young lady named Latasha who put together our event on her campus and was clearly working to make a difference in the world.  It’s because of students like her that the GFB legacy has grown so strong over the past ten years.  We also got some awesome media coverage!

1) Longwood University.  What can I possible say?  It was a Panhellenic sponsored program and girls came out in drove even in the pouring rain.  It was a big and enthusiastic group and we had a ball!  For me personally, the biggest joy was meeting the members of the Alpha chapter of my sorority and seeing in person the charter for my sisterhood. I totally dorked out and all the girls were so gracious towards me.  It was one of my favorite experience thus far.

This semester was thrilling and exhausting and rewarding.  Every day I felt blessed to work for an incredibly special company and to be a part of Shannon’s legacy.  I can’t wait for Fall 2011!

Kennesaw State University Kicks off the Spring Tour!

You know, traveling the country as a GFB speaker really is a dream job.  I love seeing different parts of this great country we live in, meeting awesome new people and teaching men and women how to kick booty if necessary.  However, there is the less than glamorous side of our jet-setting ways.  From the colds picked up in crowded airports to the sometimes questionable items offered at the free hotel breakfast buffets, there are many times that us GFB speakers simply have to put on our “big girl panties” and deal with some less than ideal situations.  At this point, I should warn you that this post may be considered TMI (too much information) for some of you.  Proceed with caution.

For our first program of the 2011 Spring Tour, I took a leisurely 5 hour drive down to the adorable little town of Kennesaw, GA.  I left pretty early in the morning, so I drank lots of coffee and I was nursing a bit of a sore throat, so I was downing water like crazy.  I made a couple of stops; one for lunch and one to fill up the ole gas tank, but as I approached Kennesaw, my bladder was making it pretty clear that well, to put it bluntly, I needed to pee….like whoa!  (I told you this wasn’t glamorous, ok!?)

Now, I wasn’t far from my hotel and I was determined not to make another pitstop, so I pushed my way through and hoped for a speedy desk clerk to help me get checked in as fast as possible.  And when I arrived at the hotel, the desk clerk was wonderful; efficient and professional; everything I could have hoped for!  I grabbed my key and within minutes I was standing outside my assigned room.  Only problem was…my keys wouldn’t work.  I tried desperately to get it to open with one key, then the other, but after about forty tries with each key, I headed back downstairs.

Next problem, the desk clerk had been called out to help another guest and she was alone on duty, so I stood there at the desk waiting to be helped for what felt like 45 minutes and I’m sure was less than 2 minutes in reality.  When the desk clerk came back, she was again curteous and kind.  She rode up the elevator with me and tried to open the door herself.  No success.  She told me to relax there in the hall lobby and she would return with a new room key for me.  Which was great, except that my ability to relax was long gone as I stood there in the hotel hallway doing everything short of the international pee-pee dance to keep myself from well…losing it.

I was just starting to consider my options when there she came; my angel, my savior dressed in a blue blazer.  The wonderful staff member helping me arrived with a new room key and and an apology for the inconvenience.  I thanked her profusely, told her it was really no problem and then shut my door, threw down my luggage and raced to the facilities.  Ah, the glamour of the road!  Lol!

All my suffering was well worth it because Kennesaw State University students came out for our Students Fight Back program ready to have some fun.  The lectures chair at KSU, Jilly, put together an awesome event that featured lots of laughs, yummy pizza and some major butt kicking.

The first program of the tour always sets the pace for those to follow and if the KSU program is any indicator of what’s to come this spring, we are in for a wicked awesome tour!  I’ve got lots of programs within driving distance this semester, so you can trust that I’ll be making many more pitstops during my future drives!

Link-a-palooza

Bored this afternoon?  Looking for some thing entertaining to read on the Internet?  I’ve got a few things for you.  I’ve been trying to post these on our Facebook page, but Facebook has not been cooperative.  So click away!

Wonderful article about the 10th Annual Shannon McNamara Run and Walk held yesterday.

Article from Wesley College about GFB Jaime’s recent program there. (Be sure to check out the picture accompanying this article in which Jaime looks like she totally knows what she is talking about.  Awesome!)

And I’ve seen a lot of great success stories recently.  Here are a few:

Woman fights off a man trying to abduct her.

13-year-old girl fights off a knife-wielding attacker.

12-year-old girl tricks a would-be kidnapper with her iPod Touch.

Found an interesting article?  Saw a success story online?  Friend us on Facebook and share your link there.  Or if Facebook hates you like it obviously hates me, put your link in the comments!

Zombies Fight Back

So, yesterday was Halloween and the students of Stetson University were already gearing up for some spooky games when I visited last week.

Evidentially, the school had an elaborate game devised in which some students would be “zombies” and would have the goal of infecting as many students, staff, and faculty members with the zombie virus by the end of the day.  Now, if I had known about this prior to my visit there, I would have researched some appropriate self-defense techniques for fighting the undead.  Instead, we stuck with the basic Students Fight Back curriculum and had a great time.  Hopefully, no one needed to engage the zombies in hand-to-hand combat.

Other fun facts about Stetson University: parts of the movie The Waterboy starring Adam Sandler were shot there and they love bananas foster (which is also one of my favorite desserts despite the fact it does not have chocolate.)

Thanks for having us students of Stetson!  Hope you all survived your Halloween festivities!

Throwin’ Down at Guilford College

I just loved speaking to the students of Guilford College last week, not only because they are right down the street from me, but also because they came ready to have some fun!

I mean look at those faces.  Awesome!

And I got to speak inside a room that can best be described as a planetarium, what’s better than that?

Thanks for havin’ us on campus, GC!

Bethany College

So, I recently headed up to West Virginia to teach the awesome students of Bethany College how to kick ass Students Fight Back style.  Now, I’m sure we all have our stereotypes about West Virginia, but honestly, I found only one of them to be accurate and that is that there really are a lot of wild animals in West Virginia.

I was driving on the backroads and twice had to come to a screeching halt for some little woodland creature to cross my path.  Ok, maybe not little woodland creatures because the first time I stopped it was for the biggest wild turkey I’d ever seen in my life, but the second time it was for a sweet little beaver.  I could sworn he winked at me as I slammed on my brakes and kept him from being crushed under my tire.  After that, I drove about 10 MPH under the speed limit just to be safe.   I also saw horses, cows and a full grown buck with huge antlers so close to the road, I could have rolled down my window and touched him.

The Bethany College campus was beautiful and in the middle of the most peaceful little town you’ve ever seen.  We had a small but mighty crowd and everyone seemed to have a blast.

So, my advice for anyone travelling through WV?  Watch out for woodland creatures and don’t mess with Bethany College students.  They are more than ready to defend themselves!

Cool People Doing Cool Things

Here at Fight Back Productions, we love to hear awesome stories about people doing things to better the world, whether in the field of violence prevention or elsewhere.  This week, I’ve been super excited to hear about some really cool people doing some really cool things.  Check out these links and look for ways that you can help make a difference in your community!

A retired EMT and police officer in south Florida makes self-defense education accessible to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community.  Attacks on minority groups such as the LGBT community are on the rise, so kudos to Mr. Cacioppo for his good work!

Two friends of Girls Fight Back are in the running for Pepsi Refresh Awards.  Basically, Pepsi gives a ton of money out to people doing good things so that they can do more good things.  But to win the money, they have to get votes…lots and lots of votes!

One of these projects belongs to longtime friends Shawn Decker and Gwenn Barringer.  Shawn is HIV+, Gwenn is HIV- and they are married.  They travel the country teaching teenagers and young adults how to stay safe and know their status when it comes to HIV.  If they win, they’ll receive $50,000 to travel the country and do their thing.  Honestly, if anyone hasn’t seen them speak, they are a hoot and a half!  Plus they are just cool people with a lot of great information to share.  So click here and get signed up to vote for them!

Driver’s Ed for Love is a new friend to Girls Fight Back and is all about offering relationship education to young adults.  I had the pleasure of seeing their program at this year’s SEPC and was really excited about the concept of this program.  The idea is that if we educate young people about how to select mates, we will decrease divorce and other heartaches and increase happiness in our love relationships.  They are in the running for $150,000 to get their program off the ground by training program facilitators, conducting research and offering free programming at colleges around the country.  Click here and get signed up to vote of Driver’s Ed for Love.

Now the cool thing about the Pepsi Refresh project is that you can vote twice a day, once online and once via text message, so vote for both of these awesome project everyday during the month of September.

The last cool person doing a cool thing that I want to mention is…well…ME!  Ok, maybe I’m not really that cool (I’m actually kind of a dork), but my daughter and I are doing something that I’m pretty proud of and that you can help us out with.  We are walking in this year’s AIDSWalk DC and trying to raise $1000.  The infection rate in our nation’s capital is 1 in 20!  That’s comparable to some parts of Africa! A thousand dollars is a high goal, but we are getting so close!  We only need $305 to break it and taste some sweet, sweet victory.  You can make a donation of any size here.  Thanks to our amazing GFB family and their generous donation to support us, as well as, our new friends at Driver’s Ed for Love who also made a donation.  I’m so inspired by the friends and family who have stepped forward to help us raise this money.  It is incredible!  So thanks in advance for any monetary love you show.

Know someone doing something cool to make our world a better place?  Let us know here in the comments or on the wall of our Facebook page!  We’d love to give them a shoutout!

We have a stake in one another. What binds us together is greater than what drives us apart. If enough people believe in the truth of that proposition, and act on it, we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done.

–Barack Obama, December 1, 2006 (World AIDS Day)

Reinhardt College Kicks Off Our Fall Tour!

The incoming class of freshman at Reinhardt College should not be messed with! 

 Our Fall 2010 Tour has officially begun and they helped me kick it off right with a Students Fight Back program this past weekend.  They were enthusiastic, fun, and just a little bit scary.  Mad props go to Jeremy, who not only planned the whole thing, but also served as one of the creepiest SBGs I’ve ever worked with.  I think at one point I compared him to a Harry Potter character; maybe it was the badass beard he was sporting.

Keep checking the blog over the coming months.  We’ve got a super busy semester planned and we’ll keep you entertained with our tales from the road both here  and on our Facebook page!  Be sure to become a fan of ours on FB!

Hardcore Improvised Weapon!

Beware you aspiring home invaders, women are willing and able to fight back.  And you never know what they will have lying around their house to club you over the head with!

Senior Citizen Success Story

I’ve recently had the pleasure of speaking for a couple of local senior groups and this story just goes to show that you shouldn’t mess with “little old ladies.”

FREE Girls Fight Back! Program in NC

Hope anyone close to the Piedmont Triad Area of North Carolina will join me for the fun, free event!  At 11am on Saturday, June 12th, I’ll be presenting a free Girls Fight Back! seminar at Advanced World Martial Arts Systems in Kernersville.  The program is appropriate for ages 13 and up and will last about 90 minutes with plenty of time after to answer any questions you may have.  I’ll be talking about ways to avoid becoming the target of a violent crime by trusting your intuition and behaving like a bad victim and I’ll finish up with some simple fight techniques that you can use if you ever find yourself confronted by an attacker.  The program is presented with tons of humor and you’ll leave feeling like a stronger, more empowered person.  Pete Andrews of AWMAS has graciously agreed to let me use his studio for free and while there is no charge for the seminar itself, we will be collecting donations for Heroes Serving Humanity.  For more information about the workshop check out: http://www.awmas1.com/page_latestnews.htm. And call 336-992-5223 to sign-up.  Call ASAP – space is limited.