Keepin’ it Safe in the Backyard of The Big Apple

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Living in New York City, you think you know most of the major spots nearby. So it was a pleasant surprise to find the very quaint and beautiful Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, right across from my backyard. It’s a lovely campus with a spectacular view of The Big Apple, but even more impressive students!

Stevens Institute of Technology welcomed Students Fight Back! and made the statement that a safer campus is a priority. Being a male-dominated school, I applaud Stevens Institute for taking initiative. It speaks to the very loud voice of our young generation that both males and females want equality, and are on a mission to end violence for all. In this spirit, we talked about being an active bystander and looking out for each other, why assuming someone is a “creeper” based on stereotypes is actually putting yourself in a more harmful situation and of course, we kicked some serious ass. It was a stellar event from start to finish!

Thanks so much Stevens Institute of Technology for letting Students Fight Back! be a part of your community. Looking forward to visiting my neighbors again soon! Until next time….

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Light and Love,

GFB Bree

Stephen F. Austin FIGHTS BACK!

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Stephen F. Austin State University is such a cool crew, with contagious energy and that serious FIGHT BACK! spirit. I got to see this not only during our seminar, but in on-campus events surrounding my presentation.

As we point out in our program, no matter how safe a school, neighborhood or city might be, violence is unfortunately something that touches all of us. SFA saw this first hand, with an attack on campus several days before our seminar and one literally the same night I was speaking on their campus. The students told me all about it, and how in both cases they believed the attacker was not a student. Scary stuff. But the INCREDIBLE news is that in both instances, the women fought off the attacker and were able to get away.

Hell. Yeah.

See what I mean about that fight back spirit? The truth is this can happen on any campus, and I’d like to give Stephen F. Austin a standing ovation for taking the initiative to make their campus a safer place by educating students with programs like Students Fight Back! Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your brave community and most importantly, for fighting back.

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And a special shout out to Student Activities Association, one of the hardest working campus organizations I’ve seen! They did such a stellar job planning the event, getting badasses in seats and getting the community hyped up about making the campus safer. You all are making a difference, truly. Can’t wait to come visit you all again reeeeeeeeal soon!

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

St. John’s Fisher College wraps up the 2015 Tour

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St. John’s Fisher College wrapped up the Girls Fight Back! and Students Fight Back! 2015 Tour… And man did we finish hella strong. We had over 70(!) students at a non-mandatory event (FYI that’s like winning the Super Bowl in student event planning when it comes to an “issues and ideas” event, in case you didn’t know). Yep, this crew was seriously SO much fun!

Sometimes a crowd can take a little time into the program to warm up… I get it, I mean, we are talking about some serious stuff here but in a totally different way. We make it REAL talk. Person to person. So there can be some resistance. Not this crew at St John’s. We were vibin’ right outta the gates!

I quite possibly laughed harder and had more fun than any other event this year! It was amazeballs working with students who were so eager to learn, excited about making their safe campus an even safer place and being their own best protectors in any situation! Before I left, they were already talking about ways to take “next steps” and bring on more intense seminars. This gang is the group of students you look at and feel hopeful & grateful for the future of our society. They truly blew me away!

And of course none of this would have been possible without Claire and the SJFC Feminist Caucus and sponsors going the extra mile to raise funds, planning their pants off and being the hostest with the mostest. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your hard work and heart-warming hospitality. I HAVE to come visit you all again… You made my season! Till next time…

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Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Friends University + SFB = BFF

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When I saw Friends University, I was hoping this crew was as welcoming as their name sounded.  Holy cow. They should be called Best Friends Forever and Ever University. I was completely blown away by the generosity (check out this Taylor Swift-quality green room!!!), excitement and energy. We had so much fun!

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The energy in the room was simply contagious and they were so into learning about being their own best protector. I love going to schools were I realize my “job” is kind of the coolest thing on the planet. And Friends University made that realization happen.

I have to give a special shout out to FACE for being an incredible host, throwing on a stellar event and, of course, helping me get my cowgirl on whilst in Wichita, KS. They hooked me up with the coolest ranch and suited me up in their FACE T-shirt for perfect riding swag!

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Thanks so much Friends University for having myself and Students Fight Back! to throw down with all of you… You are all my BFFs. See you on the road again real soon…

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

 

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Central Community College

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I recently embarked on a road trip across Nebraska, hitting several community colleges along the way. One of my favorite schools on Tour de Nebraska was Central Community College. We had a packed room in the middle of the day right around lunch time… Not an easy thing to do. But that’s because Nicholas Freeland is a baller and was a big part getting the sister community colleges involved, as well as filling the room full of badass students.

Along with putting on an exceptional event, the students in attendance at CCC were excited, eager to learn and full of excellent questions. One of the questions brought forth was during our “Being an Active Bystander” section. The student was very concerned about stepping in to physically help another if a heated argument or bullying situation was on the brink of becoming physical. Excellent point… And we at Students Fight Back! are NEVER encouraging you to put yourself in a more harmful situation. Simply getting help or making a phone call to the appropriate authorities so a professional can intervene is being a GREAT active bystander. This keeps you safe while still looking out for each other, ya dig?

Thank you for being so engaged and asking this important question CCC crew- and for having me to your beautiful campus. You all are rock stars and I can’t wait to visit you all again soon. Until next time…

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Love and Light,

GFB Bree

A True Story of Fighting Back – Rachael Speaks

Our friend Rachael fought back this weekend and is sharing her story to instill some serious badassery in all of us. Rachael’s experience is one that no one should ever have to go through, but when she did suddenly find herself in a potentially life-threatening situation, she acted on her instincts and fought back with everything she had because Rachael knows that she is worth fighting for.

We are so happy to hear that your warrior spirit kept you safe, Rachael! Thank you for sharing your story (full story below).

“Last night at around 10pm I was assaulted in Logan Square, on a cute little side street off Milwaukee. I am telling Facebook about it because I think there are things to be learned from my experience, and I don’t know how else to tell a large number of people I care about. I don’t think this says anything bad about my neighborhood, I think this could have happened anywhere.

I was walking alone to a friend’s house, with headphones on. Someone grabbed me from behind, showed me his gun, and started walking me to his car, saying if I knew what was good for me that I would get in. Once I processed that I wasn’t just being mugged, I started to fight back. I screamed HELP I’M BEING ASSAULTED as loud as I possibly could. He started hitting me on the head with his gun and I fell to the ground. People started to yell back and ask if I was OK- the guy yelled “This is my girlfriend”- and I screamed “No I am not” (as if being his girlfriend would change this scenario?) The whole time I was thinking about what my friend Morgan had taught me just a few weeks earlier through a program she works for called Girls Fight Back—that these are crimes of opportunity and they aren’t expecting a fight. I screamed and struggled as he stood over me and continued to hit me and tried to silence me until I got a solid shot and kicked him in the balls with my 2″ stacked heel boots– which gave me a chance to get up and run across the street as he fell back. By that time enough neighbors had come out of their homes that he sped away with my purse.

Ladies- be alert and be fierce, you are stronger than you think you are. The police were adamant that you should never let someone relocate you, that it’s worth the fight.
Everyone else- if you hear something or see something that’s not right, don’t shy away. I am so grateful for those neighbors who came out of their homes and let me in.

Special shout out to Alanis Morissette—I truly believe that listening to “You Oughta Know” moments before this happened unleashed a special kind of femme rage in me that helped me fight back (despite the fact that headphones on probably made me a target—duly noted).” – Rachael

-GFB Morgan

10.15.15 Sacramento State Blog—Using your Voice is POWERFUL

I had the pleasure of meeting the badass students and UNIQUE members at Sacramento State last week for Students Fight Back.  The event was hosted by UNIQUE, a super passionate group of student volunteers led by advisor Ajamu Lamumba that brings innovative entertainment to campus.  These folks organized the event down to the last detail including “Students Fight Back” credentials for all the volunteers… it was incredibly awesome!

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The students in this audience were super energetic and totally engaged in the program!  We talked about intuition and how being aware of your surroundings is not only simple, but really important from a personal safety and not-being-hit-by-a-door standpoint too. We practiced using our voices to set boundaries, which always seems to be the most uncomfortable thing for folks to get the hang  of.  We all struggle with this, and that is why we spend so much time practicing this super important skill in our seminars!

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When it came time to practice the Badass Ballet, you could feel the power in the room.  These men and women were standing up for themselves against their invisible creeper and the more we practiced with our voice, the more confident they became.  The Badass Ballet is an intro to physical self-defense skills and thanks to Jessica Heskin everyone learned that Sac State actually offers a full contact self-defense class on campus at The Well. How great is that?!

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The biggest take away for this group was the knowledge that it’s ok to make a scene and use your voice if you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or if your boundaries are being crossed. Using your voice is a great way to deter someone and also catches the attention of passers-by who can then step in as an active bystander.  So often in our life we are told not to make trouble, don’t be mean and just go with the flow.  Well, that doesn’t apply when it comes to your personal safety!  Use your voice…it’s the first tool of self-defense you have and it may be all you need to avoid a physical confrontation.  The best fight is the one never fought!

There were great questions asked during Q&A like, what to do if the attacker has a weapon and what if there are multiple attackers.  My favorite question was, “If someone says ‘hi’ to me, do I ignore them or do I say something?  What if I offend them?”  Well, it’s absolutely your choice and depends on the situation and how that ‘hi’ makes you feel.  If you feel uncomfortable or threatened, then you have the right to enforce your boundary and use your voice if you choose. The fear of offending someone should never be more important than the desire to be safe.  It’s ok if someone thinks you’re mean, or rude or a terrible person if the end result is that you are safe and alive. Who cares what creepy people who are trying to cross your boundaries think! I’d rather err on the side of being safe any day!  And remember, you aren’t obligated to engage in conversation with anyone and you can say NO at any time.  If someone disrespects your no or disregards your personal boundaries, you now have the skills to create a double boundary and know you’re worth fighting for if that person doesn’t back off.

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Thank you Sacramento State and UNIQUE for letting me rock out with all of you and share some knowledge that we are really passionate about.  I hope you are all feeling like the empowered badasses that you are!  Go forward peacefully!

Cheers,
GFB Nicole

 

University of Massachusetts – Lowell – A BIG Win!

Just 2 weeks into the SFB fall tour, I stopped by to see our new besties at University of Massachusetts  - Lowell. The team of badasses in Student Activities is killing it over there and had some 400 seats lined up, zip tied, a boss stage and serious sound system. They brought in the big guns.

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After sound check, start time slowly creeped. And let’s just say they didn’t quite fill the seats they had hoped to. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, self-defense is a tough sale.

But here is the incredibly awesome news: 1.) There were a solid number of dudes in the crowd. Like over half. 2.) we had FUN! Those who came were super into it. 3.) I had a very real, open conversation with a brilliant group of women who were uber pumped about the program and could hardly wait to share stories: One who, just in the last week, made moves to be an active bystander, looking out for a couple freshman girls who were being creeped on by a guy following them slowly in a car (she threatened to call the cops and he drove away). Another girl shared her “I never thought it could happen to me” story about getting mugged just a few weeks ago and how much she wished she had this course before that had happened. We talked for a quite a while after the program, laughing, chatting and sharing our fears… being vulnerable about a scary topic that can seem a lot less scary when you are in a safe place to talk about it and can learn very basic skills to deal with it.

So yeah, they didn’t get the masses they were looking for, but we did connect with some real leaders in the community who want to take more steps towards a safer program by bringing us back for more intense classes. These are also the people who will continue chatting about the program for a while, sparking important conversations with the peeps who couldn’t make it to the seminar.

And I most definitely chalk that up as a BIG win.

Thank you SO much University of Massachusetts – Lowell for letting me hang and putting on such an amazing program. You all are the bomb and I can’t wait to see you again soon! Till next time..

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

LIM College – Let’s Go Round 2!

This is my second round with the beautiful people of LIM College. This go, we spoke to the students that had just moved into their residence housing here in NYC. They were a fun group of girls who wanted to get their know-how on when it came to self defense.

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One of the hot topics that I think often gets brought up at the beginning to middle of the school year, when the parents send their young blossoming buds off, is setting them up with pepper spray. This was a must-know among the LIM College group so I thought I’d share with all y’all.

When I went to live in Nashville by myself, my aunt bought me a stun gun AND pepper spray (she was only mildly worried about my safety.) I think I was more scared of shocking myself with the stun gun (because the spark it gave off scared the crap out of me) than I was scared of being attacked. And I actually DID shoot myself in the stomach with my roommate’s pepperspray when I was tossing her keys around in my hands.. I didn’t know it was pepper spray, shot myself in the stomach and was choking and eyes watering for a good hour. Yeah, I am that cool.

I share this what-not-to-do story because it proves one of our main rules about using any kind of safety tool: Practice using it! So many people put all of their trust into these protective weapons and then either A. have no idea how to use or B. know how to use it but only in calm and collect situations, not when you’re all jazzed up on adrenaline and can hardly move your fingers, let alone take off the safety, aim and shoot precisely into someone’s eyes. (This brings me to the another side note: make sure if you’re going to carry pepper spray to have one that shoots a long and wide mist, not one of those that you can practically spit farther than and is a solid stream. In needs to have distance and depth. We sell an excellent model as well as a practice-can (A MUST) here on www.girsfightback.com)

If you know how to use your safety tool and have practice, this is the best way to prevent our second rule from happening: know that anything you use can be taken away from you and used on you. Unfortunately this does happen, but if you have taken the appropriate training and practiced using it, that’s unlikely to happen. It’s all about taking the preventative steps my friends.

A big shout out to LIM College for bringing this important topic to the forefront as it’s a widely uneducated topic. But since LIM’s crew is a bunch of badasses and their second round of SFB, I’m not surprised they are all over this. Thank you so much for having me LIM and I’m stoked to go round 3! Till next time..

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

Sunday Morning “Kicks” – Cal Poly San Luis Obispo!

What were you doing on Sunday morning? Sleeping? Reading the newspaper? Well if you were one of the more than 700 new sorority members at Cal Poly SLO, you were in the Chumash Auditorium eye striking and groin kicking your way to empowerment with Girls Fight Back!

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The New Member Education event started off with a presentation by SAFER, Cal Poly’s primary resource for addressing sexual violence, domestic violence and stalking.  They showed my favorite “Tea Consent” video and really set the crowd up for the Girls Fight Back material.  I love it when allies join together with us during events, because as a united voice we are so much louder at combatting violence and rape culture in our society.

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Taelor, the VP for the Panhellenic Association was a strong supporter of the GFB program and was supremely awesome before, during and after the event!  She even arranged to have a member of the IFC executive staff, Kevin, act as my demo “creeper”.  It was incredible to have a man that is so passionate about our cause be a part of the show and he did a great job!  Women and men have to work together to truly end violence in our world.

We practiced our verbal strategies and learned how to recognize when someone is disrespecting our no. We clarified that consent should be an enthusiastic HELL YES!  And of course, we practiced our badass ballet moves. Make no mistake, these ladies were supremely bad ass…their invisible creepers got their butts kicked!  And when I asked everyone to stand up for the last badassballet practice, I heard several women in the front row announce “oh hell yes!” and were the first to jump up into ready position.  You go girls, that enthusiasm is contagious!

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Thank you so much for inviting me to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and letting me be a part of your college experience while empowering your new Greek Members.  I hope you all know how incredible you are, how much power you have and how you all deserve to live an awesome life with NO APOLOGIES!  Remember to look out for each other and please go forward peacefully.

Cheers,
GFB Nicole

Thank you UW-Platteville!

The students at UW-Platteville are so POWERFUL! We had an awesome group of fierce students show up for our Students Fight Back event this past Sunday. It was an incredible experience not only because of the physical strength of so many participants, but also because of the power of their collective voices. Being a ‘united front’ can take shape in many different ways; sometimes a united front is a group of individuals making the conscious choice to become active bystanders (getting involved when seeing someone in a potentially dangerous situation), but it can also be individuals learning how to up our overall personal safety at an SFB event. Either way, in the end it is all about supporting our communities, our campuses, and our peers so we can all live our lives to the fullest!

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Jumping off of the topic of using our ‘collective voices’, I do have to admit that I got goosebumps more than once when we all practiced setting our double boundaries. As a reminder, yes, it would be totally amazing if we remembered to say “No. Back up. I don’t want any problems.” every time were were faced with a self-defense scenario, but what matters more than the words is how we say it. Each and every one of you are worth fighting for and I can assure you all that the students of Platteville know how to express themselves with some serious conviction! These are students that you do not want to mess with, not only because they continued to hone their badass ballet even after the night was over, but they really know how to utilize our SFB verbal strategies!

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I would like to thank Samantha from CPR for organizing and promoting this fantastic event, Family Advocate, Claire, Page and our not-so-creepy-creeper-McCreeperson, Justin!

Go forward peacefully.
-SFB Morgan

Western Oregon University – A Students Fight Back First!

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I watched through the window of my rehearsal room as hundreds of students began winding through campus en masse and excitedly filing into the gym.  These were brand new students- freshmen- gearing up for their first year at Western Oregon University. This was Student Orientation Week and Students Fight Back was invited by the Student Health & Counseling Center and Student Leadership & Activities to give these young folks some options and tools for their toolboxes for their exciting new college experience.  After everyone was seated (all 1100 of them) I felt the electricity in the air and knew we were going to have a great time together.

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The show opened with a presentation by Abby’s House, Women’s Center on campus.  We watched the hilariously awesome “Tea Consent” video.  If you haven’t seen this, watch it now! They announced Students Fight Back and I could see that this crowd was ready to bring the house down with their awesomeness!  I loved that there was such a wide demographic of students represented: athletes, women, men, LGBTQ, disabled…there was even a sign language interpreter!

We went over the importance of why fighting back is a personal choice and that victim blaming is always wrong and unacceptable. We clarified that a creeper can be ANYONE and is not necessarily a stranger.  Heck, most of the time (57% to be exact) assaults are committed by someone we know which is why it’s important to use our awareness to make decisions for ourselves. We watched the bystander video and everyone applauded the folks who stepped up in the clip.  Nothing like hearing 1100 people cheer and recognize when others are being true bystanders and making a difference!  Empowering!

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When it was time to practice our physical skills and I had the pleasure of both a male and female volunteer…a Students Fight Back first!  Let’s face it, women can be creepers too and it’s important to remember that all humans have the hotspots we discussed.  We practiced our verbal strategies and the thunder of hearing over a thousand voices scream out “NO. BACK UP, I DON’T WANT ANY PROBLEMS” gave me the chills.  Their voices echoed throughout the gym and I felt the power all the way to my bones.  Watching them practicing the badass ballet was a blast because everyone seemed to be having a super fun time kicking the crap out of their invisible creeper.  Way to go Western!

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I opened it up to Q&A and got such thoughtful, honest, probing questions.  It warmed my heart to see that everyone was really absorbing the information and figuring things out in their own minds. Here are some of the questions that stood out to me:

Q: What if you have disabilities…how do you fight?

A: Fighting is always a personal choice, and if you choose to fight you can modify the badass ballet depending on your situation ie: a heel palm to the groin instead of the face.

Q: I’ve heard that women should wear their hair back in a ponytail if they go out so that no one can grab their hair to abduct them.  What do you think?

A: We think you should wear your hair however you want! We will never teach you that you can’t go where you want, wear want you want or do what you want.  The skills we taught you today will enable you to live how you choose and have options should you ever need them.

Q: Can men take self-defense classes?

A: Absolutely!  There are co-ed classes and men can also choose to take a men’s only class if they’d prefer.

Q: What are your thoughts on how someone dresses in relation to rape?

A:  How someone dresses has absolutely NOTHING to do with rape or sexual assault.  Sexual assault is not about sex even though sexual organs are involved.  It is about a perpetrator having power, control and domination over someone else and objectifying and humiliating them. This is called power arousal and is very different from sexual arousal.  Sexual arousal is based on respect and mutual attraction.  Predators are looking for vulnerable targets they can have power over and are not concerned with how someone dresses or how they look.  That is why survivors of sexual assault range in age from infants to the elderly.  No one is EVER to blame for violence perpetrated against them.

We practiced the bad ass ballet one more time and I asked if they felt powerful.  I wasn’t surprised when I saw smiles and joy on the faces of the group when they answered back with a powerful YES!  Thank you Western, for being such an engaged, attentive audience.  I enjoyed our time together and I hope you learned some skills that will give you confidence in knowing that you have a choice if you ever need to fight back.  You are all badasses. Go forward peacefully!

Cheers,
GFB Nicole

SUNY Potsdam – Supporting Each Other and Fighting Back!

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It was really exciting to bring our badass Students Fight Back event to SUNY-Potsdam! These students really came together to support one another all while learning how to be their own best protectors. At the top of our SFB program, we share our story and emphasize that because violence touches each and every one of us, violence is truly an epidemic. The reason why we at SFB & GFB feel that it is so important to talk about the reality of violence in our everyday lives is that we know the more we talk about it, the more we will be able to realize we are not alone. When we realize that the experiences we ourselves have lived through or the experiences of close friends or family members are not isolated events, we allow ourselves to build greater connections within our own communities.

A week before the SFB event in Potsdam, a tragic event struck a nearby campus. What I admire about the students of Potsdam and the students in the surrounding area, is that they were able to come together after this tragedy. It was wonderful to have students familiar with our GFB program show up as well as a few first-timers! We were very lucky to have Bradon, a senior at SUNY-Potsdam, return for a second year as our not-so-scary Creeper McCreeperson volunteer. I want to add a special shout out to Jackie and Ruth for putting together and running a truly special SFB event.

Thank you & go forward peacefully!
-SFB Morgan

University of Richmond – “Do you feel powerful?”

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“YEEEEESSSSSS!” came the thunderous reply as the Weinstein Center at the University of Richmond echoed with the roar of women’s voices. The intensity of that reply gave me goose bumps and made it quite obvious that these courageous sorority sisters were feeling powerful indeed after watching the program!

The Panhellenic Council sponsored this Girls Fight Back event and the students were visibly pumped from the beginning as they started filling in and taking their seats.  The energy in the room was electrifying and I knew we were going to have an awesome time together!

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Once we got started we were on a roll to empowerment! Everyone cheered when I showed them the sparkly red high heel and explained we’d be learning how to use it as a weapon later in the program. But seriously, who wouldn’t want to know how to do a solid instep stomp to protect themselves from a creeper?  Stomp away!

Then we learned a little phrase to use when we need to take back control of a conversation when the person is trying to manipulate us with charm.  That tidbit of info was met with some surprised faces and uneasy murmurings…as if the thought of asserting oneself verbally was the most uncomfortable thing in the world.  Well, it totally can be for some folks and that’s ok! That’s why practice makes perfect and it all starts with knowing that it’s ok to set your own boundaries and know you have the right to have those boundaries be respected.

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When it came time to practice our verbal skills I had the help of 2 university police officers who switched off being my demo volunteers.  That was the first time I’ve ever had 2 volunteers and it was so much fun being able to show the audience different scenarios with 2 different “creepers”. Then I got to kick their pretend creeper butts when it came time for the Bad Ass Ballet!  What great sports they were and the ladies loved it!  We were palm striking and groin kneeing like champs and these sorority warriors were not hesitant about practicing their moves.  It was awesome to see so much enthusiasm!  So it wasn’t a surprise when at the end they just about blew me away with their resounding “YES!” to my question.

Thank you all so much for your warm welcome, energy, hospitality and eagerness to learn how to be your own best protector.  I am so happy that I had the chance to meet you all and please remember to go forward peacefully!

 

University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown Welcomes the New Kids on the Block (Freshman. Duh)

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Freshman = fresh blood. Crap schedule. Dorm food. …And eager. And awesome.

I had the privilege of throwing down with the incoming Freshman class of University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. They were super engaged, open, laughing, all about looking out for each other and making campus a fun AND safe place. With a few knees to the groin thrown in there. Of course.

Since Students Fight Back meets Title IX requirements, we’ve been getting this call quite a bit (props to the colleges for being so proactive from day-one): to get rowdy with the new kids and talk about serious subjects, like consent, being an active bystander and sexual assault on campus. I’m so proud of our program for being able to have real talk about these issues without “lecturing” our college students or using “fear-tactics.” Not only does this keep them from shutting down, but by treating our future leaders like the adults they are, we are inviting them into the conversation. Raising the bar and asking them to step up their game. Be the badasses they are born to be. Putting on their adult sassy pants and being the generation of change. Hello. Cool stuff.

Thank you UP-Johnstown for allowing me to be a part of your welcoming week activities and for supplying your future rockstars with the tools they need to have a fun and fierce college experience. You done real good. Till next time…

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

North Idaho College and SFB – Strong, Confident, POWERFUL!

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Students Fight Back took a little jaunt up to the beautiful city of Coeur d’Alene this past week and I met the awesome students of North Idaho College!  The ASNIC Student Events team greeted me with boundless energy and their enthusiasm about educating their fellow students on self-defense strategies was contagious.  There was even a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man at the entrance to the venue to announce the program!

With counselors and the Student Response Officer (a real armed police officer) in the audience, we tackled why victim blaming is wrong and why we don’t go for the groin first in a self-defense scenario!  I’ll be honest, I got a little nervous when I noticed Gus (the SRO) jotting things down in his phone and then after the presentation he got up to say a few words to the audience and validated everything we went over!  It’s so incredible to hear directly from law enforcement how spot on our program is at tackling issues of violence prevention and empowering students to fight back!

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During the Q&A I was asked a great question:

If predators are motivated by power and control, wouldn’t they choose a victim who was standing up for themselves so they can have more power and control?

The badass answer?

Predators typically choose people who they perceive to be VULNERABLE!  They most often want easy targets, someone who they can dominate easily.  So by standing your ground, setting a strong boundary and having the skillset in your back pocket to fight back if you have to/choose to, you are less likely to become a target of a violent attack!  There is a wealth of research backs this up too!  So don’t be afraid to be strong, be confident and be POWERFUL.

Mic drop!   It was incredibly awesome to see everyone so engaged and ready to take that next step to be their own best protector!  I love creating allies as we travel the country spreading empowerment and dropping knowledge bombs!

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Thank you so much to all the wonderful people at ASNIC that sponsored this event and were so gracious, friendly and all kinds of awesome including: Heather, Quinne, Mallory, Nicole, and Mitchell!  It was a huge pleasure meeting you all and I hope your community learned the most important lesson…that they are WORTH FIGHTING FOR!

Cheers!
GFB Nicole

 

HEY LIONS!! (Hey What?!) – Texas A&M Commerce!

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HEY LIONS!!  (Hey What?!)

You RAWK, that’s what!

Today I had the pleasure of meeting a very enthusiastic group of students for the Students Fight Back event at TAMUC for Lion Camp.  What is Lion Camp you ask?  Well, it’s a three-day, fun-filled experience for incoming freshmen and transfer students to educate them on specific university topics.  The unique thing about this SFB Lion Camp event was that it was open to the entire university community- so athletes, Greeks and other groups attended as well!  Our Lion Camp sponsors were incredibly awesome, friendly and helpful.  In fact, members of their team warmed up the crowd with some karaoke to my warm up playlist!  That was a first!

Once we got started we were on a roll and didn’t stop!  We powered through the importance of trusting your intuition and why being an active bystander is so important.  Then we charged into learning some verbal strategies when dealing with a creeper.  My volunteer, Jay, really got into his part and had the audience cracking up with his ‘creeper’ lines! Then we backed that up with some physical strategies we like to call the Bad Ass Ballet.  We all laughed and we kicked some invisible creeper booty!

The best part about speaking to audiences like this is looking out into the crowd and seeing the non-verbal cues that they are connecting with the info in a way that screams out that they  ‘get it’.  They know what’s up.  They know that they are worth fighting for and they now know that they don’t need permission to set up their own personal boundaries or demand that those boundaries are respected.  The SFB and GFB style is so empowering because not only do we teach students new skills, but we help them see inside themselves to recognize the strengths they already have.  That’s called full circle bad-assery (yes I made up that word and I’m ok with that!)

I also have to give a major shout out to the entire community of Commerce.  Every single person I came into contact with – at the store, the restaurant, the hotel, on the street- was so INCREDIBLY NICE!  I’m not exaggerating- every person I spoke to or ran into was friendly, smiling and sending out such positive energy.  It was so lovely to be in such welcoming, hospitable community.  Fist bump to you Commerce!

8.29.15 Texas A&M Commerce 4A

TAMUC, it was such a wonderful experience to meet you all!  Thank you to Kelly, Evan, Christopher, Jay and the entire team for helping to make the event such a success.  Go forward peacefully!

 

Cheers!
GFB Nicole

We’re Back! with Morehead State

Morehead State students standingWe are back! On Saturday morning at 9:30AM (my earliest Fight Back gig to date) at Morehead State.. I threw down with 900 freshman, Students Fight Back style, for our first seminar of the fall semester. That’s right. We were kickin’ booty before you had your Wheaties.

Why, you might ask, were we up so early throwing some serious eye-strikes? Students Fight Back was  part of the Freshman orientation week, which can be the highest week of crime out of the entire school year. Props to Morehead State for taking preventative steps to give the students the skills they need to succeed from day one in college.

But as I’m sure you can imagine, some freshman were less than thrilled to be dragged out of bed for a Saturday morning seminar. I even walked by one student who said “It looks boring, I think I’m gonna leave.” I love hearing these comments, truly. Mainly because I get it. I like my sleep as much as a newborn babe. And let’s be honest, who wants to spend their Saturday morning talking about ‘not getting attacked’? But I laugh to myself when I hear these kinds of comments because by the end, they’re pretty stoked to know how to palm strike to the face, and then some. Wait. Hold up. Enjoy a seminar that was put on by your college? No way.

Way! In fact, I had two students approach me after: ‘I thought this was going to be another boring rape prevention program. Like “don’t rape people.” Yeah, we get it.’

But they continue. ‘This was kick ass. Where can I take a full-contact self defense class?” Boo-yah. Not only did they dig it, but they wanted more.

Oh the sweet sound of success. Teaching our future generation how to be their own best protectors while looking out for each other…all while making it badass. This is what makes Girls Fight Back and Students Fight Back so awesome. These are skills they will use for the rest of their lives so why not make it fun, memorable, and leave them wanting more? I can’t think of a better way to kick off the school year.

Thank you MoreState for letting me throw down with your bright, fresh blood and for being leaders in prevention and awareness on campus. You all are rockstars. Till next time…

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

The Booming Market of Sexual Assault Prevention on Campuses

For years, we at Girls Fight Back and Students Fight Back have promoted training that teaches women to trust their instincts and be their own best protectors.  Studies show that this is still the most effective method of preventing sexual assault.

We are happy that in the years since our inception, awareness has grown and programs have been put in place to encourage bystander intervention and help us all to look out for each other.  The programs, apps and products mentioned in the article below are all utilized to assist in preventing sexual assault, and that is a very good thing!  Go public awareness!  We love it!

Ultimately, while we definitely think there is room for ALL OF THESE APPROACHES, the problem of sexual assault on college campuses exists NOW and in addition to these other approaches, we have to teach women how to take care of themselves.  It isn’t victim blaming, it is just practical.

Here’s the NPR article I mentioned, check it out!

-GFB Kat

We are on tour and on our way to you!

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If you want to bring Girls Fight Back, Students Fight Back, or Fight Back on Spring Break to your campus, call us at 866.769.9037 or email us at gfb@girlsfightback.com and also check out these dates when we are touring to see if we are headed to a campus near you:

8/15/15 – Morehead, KY

8/26/15 – New York, NY

8/29/15 – Commerce, TX

9/8/15 – McCook, NE

9/9/15 – North Platte, NE

9/9/15 – Coeur d’Alene, ID

9/16/15 – Richmond, VA

9/17/15 – Potsdam, NY

9/27/15 – Platteville, WI

9/28/15 – Milwaukee, WI

9/30/15 – Eau Claire, WI

Topics we cover in Girls Fight Back & Students Fight Back that are shown to be EFFECTIVE sexual assault prevention for college students:

  • Self-Defense including how to yell and break holds
  • Definitions of Consent
  • Debunking the myth of stranger danger and defining acquaintance rape
  • Bystander intervention
  • Clarifying the right to personal boundaries
  • . . . with an approach that is dynamic, includes role-playing, discussion, and problem-solving

It’s a complicated issue and there is no one perfect approach, but a multi-faceted approach to sexual violence including these techniques has shown time and time again to save lives and decrease violence.

This great article from the New York Times states:

Sexual violence is a serious hazard on college campuses. . . .  In a randomized trial, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, first-year students at three Canadian campuses attended sessions on assessing risk, learning self-defense and defining personal sexual boundaries. The students were surveyed a year after they completed the intervention. The risk of rape for 451 women randomly assigned to the program was about 5 percent, compared with nearly 10 percent among 442 women in a control group who were given brochures and a brief information session. . . .  “It’s an important, rigorous study that shows that resistance and self-defense training needs to be part of college sexual assault prevention,” said Sarah E. Ullman, a professor of criminology, law and justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was not involved in the research.

We are dying to teach you how to kick some booty, and have fun in the process.  Give us a shout today!