Book Review: The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes—And Why

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Amanda Ripley’s book, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes—And Why ,focuses on how humans react in disasters or stressful situations and how those reactions can save us or doom us.  This intellectual approach to examining human response is both intriguing and enlightening into how you view the normal and the extreme risks that we are all exposed to in our day to day lives.  Ripley teaches readers about The Survival Arc which includes the stages of 1) Shock, 2) Deliberation, and 3) The Decisive Moment.  If you have ever wondered how you would react in a life or death situation, it is encouraging to know that, “Again and again, studies have shown that people perform better under stress if they think they can handle it.”  In other words, dress rehearsal can prepare you for the real thing, which is why, at Girls Fight Back, we advocate empowering self-defense.  In addition to muscle memory and critical knowledge, learning self-defense (both verbal and physical) helps women gain confidence.  That confidence alone, can one day save your life.  “The most important point is that everyone, regardless of IQ, can manufacture self-esteem through training and experience.  This is what soldiers and police officers will tell you; that confidence comes from doing.”  WE AGREE!

  • If you are interested in taking a full contact self-defense course in your area, please download our Sassy Self-Defense Guide for more information or drop us a line at gfb@girlsfightback.com.

Lauren Taylor and Empowerment Based Self-Defense

Lauren Taylor has it just right when she addresses EMPOWERMENT based Self-Defense. “Empowerment self-defense does more than help individual women fight off rape attempts: It changes the world, individually and collectively – and ultimately, systemically. Women who have taken empowerment self-defense interact differently with the men in their lives. They take more healthy risks. They live more authentically. They raise their children differently. And on and on. Person by person, they are changing the world and ending rape culture. They’re part of the revolution that is feminism. Which we think is something we all can agree is not victim-blaming – and is a good thing.”

 

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The Safety Godmothers: The ABCs of Awareness, Boundaries and Confidence for Teens

We are so excited to introduce you to Ellen Snortland and Lisa Gaeta’s new book, The Safety Godmothers: The ABCs of Awareness, Boundaries and Confidence for Teens – released this week!

Ellen is the author of Beauty Bites Beast, a GFB fave read, and Lisa Gaeta is the founder and CEO of IMPACT Personal Safety of Southern California, which offers full contact adrenaline based self-defense courses that all of our Girls Fight Back presenters have taken (and kicked ass in)!  The book features 20 real life success stories in which teens employed the verbal and/or physical self-defense methods we talk about in our presentations and proved victorious in being their own best protectors!  Check it out here.

The Safety Godmothers book cover

A Girl’s First Life of Defense . . . Her Intuition

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What if I told you that there is a completely free tool available to you that could keep you safe from danger, help you pick the right answer on a multiple choice exam, or guide you towards making the right decision when buying a car or picking a school? You’d be all over that, right? What if I told you that you already own it?…

My sophomore year of college, I attended a party at a fraternity house dressed to impress. I had just gotten out of a relationship and I was ready to flirt and mingle. When I walked through the door of the house and noticed a few appreciative glances, my confidence soared and I was ready for a fun night. Just then I happened to make eye contact with this one guy and all the warning bells and whistles in my body went off. I didn’t know what it was, but I felt totally creeped out. There was something going on and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I ignored the feeling, but also avoided any contact with this guy as best I could.

As the DSS (Designated Sober Sister), I found myself hitting the practically abandoned soda table at one point during the evening. When I turned over my shoulder to exit the room, there he was….Creepy McCreeperson. I felt myself completely freeze up as he approached me. It felt like there was a lock in the center of my stomach just under my ribs and someone had forced in the key and bolted it. As he spoke to me, he started running his hand across my collarbone and my mind raced as I looked for a socially acceptable way to get away from him. At that moment, one of my sorority sisters came through the door looking for me. Now, she was never one to care much about being “socially acceptable” and with the added bonus of having had a couple of drinks, she had no problem telling him to get his hands off me and pulling me safely out of the room.

Later that night, I thought “What was that? Why had that guy given me such an intense feeling? And what had that feeling meant?”
We’ve probably all had a similar experience. Something isn’t right in our environment. We know something isn’t right, but we aren’t sure what or why or how. That’s our intuition and if we learn to listen to it without judgment and respond accordingly, that is the tool that can protect us in a variety of circumstances.

Violence prevention expert, Gavin de Becker defines intuition as ‘knowing something without knowing why’. Now that’s a pretty cool concept! You can know something, but not necessarily be consciously aware of why you know it. And the coolness of that is magnified when you consider this little known fact about intuition: it’s always going to take you to a safer place. It’s never going to put you in more danger to trust and act on your intuition. The trick is that we have to accept these feelings on face value and resist the urge to overanalyze. Because while we’re stroking the old proverbial beard asking ourselves “Is my intuition reliable?,” we could find that our opportunity to act has passed us by and we are now in a pickle.

Recently, I had the experience of locking eyes with a guy and this time all the right bells and whistles went off. I knew I’d found someone special. I didn’t know yet why or how, but I knew he was going to be important to me. And because I had taken the time to explore my intuition and how it communicates with me, I knew I could trust that feeling, turn off my very human desire to over think things, and enjoy the wonderful feeling of getting to know someone who excites me. Thanks, intuition!

GFB – Heather

Girls Fight Back Responds to the UCSB Murders

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As the President of Girls Fight Back, my heart is full of sadness for the community of UCSB, where a young man killed six students on May 23rd before taking his own life. This disturbed murderer made clear in his videos and writings that his intention was to destroy that which he felt he could not have; and that “thing” he felt deprived of was attention, sex, and affection from women. After killing his roommates, he specifically targeted the Alpha Phi sorority house where he was, thankfully, unable to gain access. Though he did not get inside the house, six young people nevertheless lost their lives that day, all students of UCSB. In his video, he said of women, “If I can’t have you, I will destroy you.” It is haunting, it is tragic, and it has to change.

Every time one of these tragedies takes center stage in the national news, which is all too often, we renew the national dialog about prevention, gun control, and mental health; and, the news cycle goes on overdrive to instill fear that you could be the next victim of a crazed killer. Fear alone is not an option. To live in that fear is to succumb to the logic of a killer who feels that women should have sex with him because that is his entitlement as a man. We all know that we can’t walk through the world afraid to choose the relationships we want to be in, the people whom we share intimacy with, or even our prom date. Life would be much safer if we never left our house, but that isn’t living.

I spent some time over the past few days reading #yesallwomen. When I see page after page of tweets calling out the daily impact that fear can have on our lives, I am once again reminded of the importance of making our voices heard and learning to be our own best protectors. It is encouraging to see how many husbands, brothers, boyfriends, and dads are also tweeting to #yesallwomen that they get it, and it is a reminder of how far we have to go to see those who they clearly do not get what the big deal is. What we need is social change on a global level, and the world is full of good people, both women and men, who are ready to stand up against violence. And, until that happens, I want all women to have the confidence and security to live their best lives.

At Girls Fight Back, we believe that every individual is his or her own best protector. Our strength is not necessarily made up of mere physical muscle, but is built upon making a conscious choice to reclaim our sense of security in the world. We strive to empower individuals to be in control of their lives, to set boundaries that allow them to feel safe, to be wary of anyone who discounts their NO, and to learn how to live a safer life through their actions while helping other people around them do the same.

In memory of Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, George Chen, 19, Weihan Wang, 20, Veronika Weiss, 19, Katie Cooper, 22, Christopher Michael-Martinez, 20, Maren Sanchez, 16, who was fatally stabbed after declining a prom invitation last month, and the estimated 7,500 others who will lose their lives to violence this year, we continue to speak out. Though the statistics are shocking, we are here to say that we will not conform to the violence. We will remain focused on our efforts to create social change, to protect ourselves, and to take care of one another.

-GFB Gina

Illinois BYOB Tour – Glenwood, Springfield and Township High Schools!

I just finished my around the world Illinois BYOB tour and I really feel like it was on par with Yonce’s.

In other words, Mayday 2014 was badass and these High School chicks definitely know a thing or two about protecting themselves.

At each GFB event I asked the students what they would want to do if they were standing in front of their home with the key in the door and suddenly spotted Creeper McCreeperson behind them. Usually, most of us want to get inside as quickly as we can, but of the hundreds of students I spoke with NOT ONE suggested that as an option!! These girls, from Chatham to Arlington Heights, already knew that we were going to have to confront Creeper McCreeperson in order to set some serious boundaries for ourselves, and once I gave them a couple easy tools… let me just say, you definitely don’t want to mess with any of these chicks!

Chatham, Illinois
Glenwood High School Students
Starting my triple-threat Illini BYOB tour at Glenwood High School was incredible. The bleachers were packed bright and early with hundreds of badass chicks who were ready to throw down. I had a blast with everyone and would like to thank Principal Jim Lee, Diana Odin and Luke (the goofiest sbg!) for helping put together this fantastic event!

 

Springfield, Illinois
Springfield High School students
The Springfield High School Student Council voted to bring GFB to their campus to teach the 9th and 12th grade female students, which proves that when men and women work together to raise awareness about violence against women, we can really make an amazing impact in our communities. I would like to thank the SHS Student Council, Ms. Guerrero, and Cody (our not-so-scary-scary-bad-guy) for this wonderful GFB event!

Arlington Heights, Illinois
Township High School students
Aaron went above and beyond – he put together an awesome event for Township High School District 214 and not only is he a veteran SBG, but he also teaches self-defense! This was a special event because we had Moms next to their daughters, all conquering the Badass Ballet together. Reminder: Aaron is teaching a self-defense class on May 18th, which will be a wonderful compliment to the GFB program

Wishing everyone the best!

-GFB Morgan

Glenwood High School Fights Back!

Check out this article and this video in The State Journal-Register about the kickass group of students at Glenwood High School that participated in Morgan’s one day three school adventure!Capture

 

One Day – Three Schools – GFB Morgan!

GFB Morgan is so excited to be given the opportunity to work with high school students in Illinois next month!  It is so impactful to get the Girls Fight Back message across BEFORE college, as we have witnessed with the many 6-12th graders we have had the pleasure of working with this year!  Morgan will be teaching the terminator tango at three Illinois high schools in one day (Glenwood, Springfield and Township) – go Morgan!  The Chicago Tribune has written this article in praise of the program.  We have had a long history of teaching district 214 to fight like girls, this is our fourth time back in just two years!  Can’t wait!

Third Annual DePauw “Throw Down”

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DePauw and I go waaaaay back. Well, three years. This crew knows how to kick it. And seeing as how this was my third time speaking at DePauw, thanks to Delta Sigma Theta, we had a lot of up close, personal and REAL talk. These ladies are all about fun, spirit and WOMEN empowerment. Heck, a few of the guys showed up solely out of support. It doesn’t get better than that. DePauw, thank you so much for having me back and I’m looking forward to round 4.

Love and Hugs,
GFB Bree

St. Francis = Bomb.com

 

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Can I tell you how much I love these ladies at St. Francis? Good, cus I’m gonna. I mean these girls made my month. The energy in the room was insane. We were vibin. Crowd participation? Please. These students were ready to jump up on stage and teach the badass ballet themselves they were so pumped. The epitome of being your own best protector. But I think the highlight of the day was when one of the students approached me (who was probably 90 pounds soaking wet, mind you) and exclaimed “I feel SO empowered!” Friends, this is the equivalent to finding $20 in your jeans from last year. Times a million. I can’t tell you what a gratifying feeling it is knowing the skills a student learned at a Students Fight Back seminar has affected her outlook in such a positive way. It gives me goosebumps. And based on the feedback, I’d say she wasn’t the only one who walked away feeling a little taller that night. Hell yeah St. Francis. That’s what kickin’ ass is all about. Thank you to the stellar Student Government team at St. Francis for putting on such an awesome and memorable event. I hope to catch you all on the flip side (aka next year!:) Peace and love sistas!

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GFB Bree

Wishing Loads of Wonderful for Jacksonville University!

 

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Had a super fantastic time at Jacksonville University! Thanks so much to the incredible Kelsey Martin and Dolphin Productions for hosting me and also to all the badass ladies of Alpha Epsilon Phi! Also huge ups to Ryan for volunteering to be my partner in crime (fighting) and also to his family for serving our country!!! Such an absolutely amazing group of students – I wish you all loads wonderful!!!

-GFB Leah

Roanoke College Knew We Were Coming and They Baked a Cake!

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What can I possibly say about Roanoke College? After a back injury earlier in the week left me wincing in pain with every step, this program had every reason to go down in history as one my most difficult ever. But an amazing staff, dedicated students, and a Super Scary Bad Guy (SSBG) made it one of my favorites of all time. First of all, the campus is beautiful with views of the mountains everywhere. My coordinator, Stephanie, had every thing set and ready to go, so all I had to do was plug in my computer. Then I was whisked away to a lovely pre-show dinner with representatives from their Panhellenic council, the student health services, the counseling center, and HEAT, their peer education group. The program itself was fabulous! My SSBG, Cody, was hilarious. The audience was completely engaged. I barely even noticed my back pain. And to top it all off, they had a cake! A cake, y’all! Definitely one of my favorite campuses of all time. Thanks for everything, RC!

Roanoke Crop

-GFB Heather

Graduation Time!!! – GFB Morgan Has Been Promoted from Speaker in Training to Junior Speaker

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The GFB Team wishes to extend congratulations and a warm welcome to the Speaking Team to Morgan. The process of becoming a GFB speaker is an intense one that includes graduation from our Summer Academy, FAST Defense training and graduation, quite a bit of reading and studying, a series of conference calls and consults, two complimentary practice gigs that are taped and reviewed by the rest of the team, and unanimous approval from the current team. We really want to be sure that the women who are chosen to represent us and the GFB message are the best of the best and we couldn’t have made a better choice with Morgan.

Morgan is based in Chicago. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned a B.A. in Art History with an emphasis in gender & critical race. Morgan studied improv and comedic writing at The Second City Training Center and iO Chicago. She is a graduate of the GFB Speaker Academy 2013, with training in FAST Defense. She already has some events booked for Spring 2014, so coming soon to a campus near you . . . . meet Morgan!

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GFB-Girl in Progress Morgan

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GFB Girl Today – Morgan – Junior Speaker

Shout out to GFB from Ellen Snortland and Gavin de Becker!

Ellen Snortland author of Beauty Bites Beast and Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear recently mentioned Girls Fight Back and the importance of a self-defense education for college students in this article published by The Huffington Post.

Virginia Tech – Samanata’s Legacy

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You know, we have a lot of fun here at Girls Fight Back, but ultimately our work is about healing. One of our core values revolves around resiliency and states: “Though the statistics are shocking, we are here to say that we will not conform to the violence. Our world and most of our individual lives have been wrongfully altered by violence. We believe in recovery on individual, societal, and world levels.”

Last night, I presented Students Fight Back at Virginia Tech, a campus very much in recovery. Of course we all remember the horrifying mass shooting that took place on April 16, 2007 and even more recently, a charismatic and well-loved VTech student named Samanata Shrestha was murdered. It was Samanata who was very much on my mind last night as I took the stage to present. I didn’t know her personally, but in conversations with students and faculty before the program, I really got a sense of her energy and the legacy she left behind. It is in memory of all those we have lost to pointless violence that we do this work. And I like to think that the laughs we have in our programs serve as reminders that we can triumph. Evil does not win. We can choose to take back our peace.

Many thanks to everyone who came out in the snow and cold. Your presence was a gift to me.

-GFB Heather

Fight Back on Spring Break!

Recently our own Bree Swartz joined HLN’s Lynn Berry on Weekend Express to discuss how to make a game plan for a safe spring break.
You can make a game plan too! Watch the interview for helpful tips on how to be a spring break badass, and check out the Girls Fight Back spin-off program website, SafeSpringBreak.org. Now is the best time to book Fight Back on Spring Break for 2015!

Bree Swartz

Davidson County Community College – Sassy!

Nothing kicks off a busy week quite like spending your Monday morning with some smart, sassy gals that live life large and in charge! Thanks to Davidson County Community College for getting my week off to a great start. I’ll be at Virginia Tech tomorrow night and Roanoke College Thursday. Then it is spring break, peeps! Holla!

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-GFB Heather

Reserved for Girls Fight Back

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The crew at Everett Community College rocked my socks off. I mean really.. check out the crowd they had. They brought treats. They gave away GFB swag.

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They promoted the pants off their badass event. And did you see the “reserved for girls fight back” parking sign??

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Um.. this pretty much made my year (yes, it is the little things). But this sign stood for me than just a parking space. It made me realize that the leaders at ECC are reserving space on their campus for the kick-ass Trojans who are the Girls Fight Back spirit. The Trojans who are fighting to take back their power. The Trojans who are fighting for equality for all. The Trojans who are making their campus a safer place. The Trojans who are worth fighting for. Yes, this “space” is reserved for you mighty Trojans. It is all about YOU and your fierce spirit.. thank you for letting me join in on the ride. Till next time…

GFB Bree

Thank you Morehead State University!

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It was an absolute joy to open a can of whoop ass with the fearless students of Morehead State University! I would like to thank LaShayna Sawyers, Nate (our fantastic SBG) and their super fans for putting together this awesome event. Everyone rocked the Badass Ballet and I have to say that these ladies really are dangerous!

I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe spring break!

-GFB Morgan

You’re Gonna Hear Me ROAR!

Texas A&M GFB class
Size really doesn’t matter when it comes to the audience. It’s all about the energy, the connection, and the engagement. Tonight at Texas A&M Commerce, this small pack of lionesses ROARED! They laughed, grunted, and brought some serious good energy. We were vibin. Thanks Lions for throwing such an awesome event. Your passion and enthusiasm were fierce and inspiring.

-GFB Bree