October Newsletter

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Dear Friends,

I’d like you to meet our Marketing Coordinator, Jenn Doe. Her design and marketing work is amazing, but that’s not why I’m introducing you to her today. She and I have a lot in common. We both lost a dear friend to senseless violence in our early 20s. We both find peace and healing in working to prevent violence against women and girls. We both believe that anti-violence and self-defense education can make this world a safer place.

In observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Jenn has bravely decided to share her personal story in an incredibly public way. I hope you’re able to learn something from her experience. Please print out this fact sheet Jenn designed about recognizing signs of domestic violence, and what to do about it. Feel free to print and share it with women you care about, because love shouldn’t hurt! We need to tell this to our girls, early and often.

Strong. Resilient. Spirited. Unified.

Erin Weed


Two years ago, I sat anxiously waiting for 11 strangers to make a decision that would determine the fate of a young man’s life and substantiate the facts that I knew to be true. The charges against him included assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, and murder in the first degree. I had met him in junior high and by high school we were in love. We felt like we could take on the world and were sure we would be together forever. After high school, we got married and eventually moved to the big city where I could further my education and there was more opportunity for us both. For the first time in the relationship, I wasn’t working and my husband was the sole provider. This began to create tension in the relationship which proved too much for me to handle. I needed some time away to focus on school, and made the difficult decision to leave.

He didn’t take this very well and became enraged and violent, damaging my property and using physical force against me. He was arrested that day and I moved out. I was visited by victim advocates who explained my rights to me, a protection order was served, and he was charged with harassment. It didn’t stop there, though. We maintained contact over the next few months, but I wasn’t willing to go back to him. I moved in with my best friend, Pam, and tried to work on myself and starting over.

Things were going pretty well for me. Finals were around the corner and my friendship with Pam was becoming stronger every day. We had been friends for 10 years, since grade school, and we adored each other. From the day that we met, we had an instant and unbreakable bond. There were rough patches along the way, and we didn’t always agree, but we always found our way back. We loved and accepted each other unconditionally and planned to be friends for the rest of our lives.


On a cold December night, after a day of job hunting and public service, Pam and I stopped by my old apartment, where my husband was now living with his brother. He had called me earlier in the week saying that I had a package to pick up, and I thought nothing of it. After about an hour of casual conversation between the three of us, I realized I was sadly mistaken. Pam left the room to use the bathroom, and before I knew what was happening, he attacked us both.

He pepper sprayed me before stabbing me twice; once in the face, knocking me to the floor and breaking my tooth, and once in the side. I later found out I had a broken rib and a punctured lung. Pam suffered multiple wounds to the neck, one of which proved to be fatal. The ambulance arrived and we were taken separately to the hospital, where I would spend the next 8 days. At 22 years old, my best friend and I became victims of violence at the hands of a man we both loved and trusted. On October 2nd, 2007, he was found guilty on all counts and would serve a life sentence for his selfish actions.

Over time, my wounds have healed and I have come to see myself as a survivor, not a victim, but it took a long time. It was hard for me to see this as domestic violence, because I imagined that as something that happened to other women, not me. The truth is that some seemingly good men behave very differently when their egos are bruised, and things like this happen ALL THE TIME. Every nurse in the hospital had a story to share with me when they heard mine and thier stories made me realize I wasn’t alone.

I kept going to school and got my BFA in Graphic Design, using art as an outlet for my pain. I did research about the patterns of violence and how these things come to happen, and I began to realize that I had missed the red flags because NO ONE HAD EVER TOLD ME what they were. The more I learned, the more I knew that I had to find way to make sure that other women get this information before it’s too late.

That’s when I found Girls Fight Back and applied for an internship, then to be a speaker, and then I just begged for any opportunity to carry on the work that Erin Weed had started. Lucky for me, she was pregnant and in need of help and I was local and available. I’ve been helping with marketing and design since May of this year, and it has been and continues to be an amazing and healing experience. I’ve had the opportunity to train with some of the best self-defense experts around and have fallen in love with kicking ass and learning to live a safer life. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of this company and how it can change the world.

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month, I have created a fact sheet containing critical information about the patterns and warning signs of domestic violence. Please pass this on to the people you love, your sisters, daughters, nieces, and friends, because this kind of information just might save a few lives. Thank you for letting me share my story and the memory of a kind, beautiful, talented, and loving young woman named Pam.

Jenn Doe

For life saving tips, download our DV Fact Sheet and read Erin Weed’s book. Don’t forget to check us out on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter!

DV Fact Sheet

The Fightin’ Women of Kent State!

First of all, thanks to Heather for posting Kent State’s shoutout to Girls Fight Back – especially love that photo!

That said, I wanted to follow up on the “official perspective” with some thoughts of my own. First off, who knew that it would be downright COLD in Ohio in late September? This southern girl (I hail from warm and humid Nashville) was caught completely unprepared for that brisk northern air! I told the girls at Kent State Wednesday night that my trip to their neck of the woods taught me something important about myself: I am a complete wimp when it comes to the cold! Hats off to them for braving wet and chilly fall weather – and much greater challenges (i.e. snow drifts up to the waist!) later in the season.

But cold weather not withstanding, the event was AWESOME! The energy these ladies brought to the table was second-to-none and it was such a pleasure to spend a couple of hours with them! I want to visit Kent every week – between the months of April and August, when it’s nice and warm.

Just kidding, of course.

Kent State, thanks for being such a fantastic host, and showing me – and the world – your fighting spirit! You go girls!

Kent State shows some love to Girls Fight Back!

Just saw this awesome article about our recent Girls Fight Back presentation at Kent State.GFB blog

Way to go Michaela!

Buckeyes Fight Back at Ohio State!

Wet weather in Columbus, Ohio last night moved Welcome Week festivities hosted by Alpha Phi Sorority indoors, but that did stop a group of more than 200 sutdents from kicking ass and taking names! Students Fight Back rocked the Ohio State RPAC yesterday for an awesome crowd of men and women fired up about being their own best protectors.

The seminar was awesome, and everyone walked away pumped with energy – which is a really good thing, because the event following SFB was no spectator sport. Hundreds of students crammed into the huge gymnasium for an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for largest pillow fight. Alpha Phi even had pillowcases custom printed with the Students Fight Back logo for everyone who attended. Thank god for Welcome Week events giving out something other than t-shirts, right? These pillows are awesome (mine particularly came in handy on my 6 a.m. flight home this morning!)!

Ohio State is undeniably one of the nation’s largest universities, and boy do they have the spirit to match. Thanks to everyone who made last night’s event such a success! And good luck holding on to that pillow fight record!

Way to go TSU Bulldogs!

Well, I’m back in the heart of Texas and having a much more leisurely trip than when I went to San Antonio a few weeks ago.  Yesterday,  I enjoyed some rest and relaxation at my hotel and some delicious tacos at Torchy’s Tacos. ( I highly recommend them!)

But by far the best experience I’ve had thus far was presenting Girls Fight Back at Texas State University – San Marcos! (Famous Alumni include LBJ and George Strait.) It was a beautiful room to present in.  My event coordinator Albert was a dream come true AND he played my scary bad guy!  It was an intimate crowd due to the large quantities of rain pouring outside (but hey, they’ve had drought conditions lately, so they need it!), but when they got fired up, you couldn’t stop them!  Since it was a smaller group, we got to practice some hands-on technique and I even got them rolling on the floor groundfighting.  Awesome!TSU

This morning I discovered with delight that my hotel has a waffle iron that creates waffles shaped like the state of Texas.  Yeehaw!  So I’m going to enjoy another day in the Lonestar State and then head out to rock Baylor University Girls Fight Back style.  Baylor girls are some long time GFB fans.  So much so, that they are rockin’ the GFB logo as their avatars on Facebook.  Sweet!

Can’t wait to hang out with all these awesome chicks tonight and throw back a Dr. Pepper float!

Buena Vista University and Morningside College

I was so excited to go to Iowa as part of the FBP Fall Tour! Though I’ve never been there I’ve seen “Field of Dreams” enough times to know that I would like it. Having spent so much time in big cities, it was surreal driving down Highway 20 from the Sioux Gateway Airport with little else around but cornfields and windmills. For the record- Iowa looks exactly like you think it does and it’s awesome!

My first stop was Buena Vista University, which is nestled in the small town of Storm Lake. It was a really quant town that had what I consider to be heaven on earth- a Dairy Queen on every corner!  The University was only about 10 minutes from my hotel, hidden in a neighborhood that I thought couldn’t possibly lead to a University- until I got to entrance.

The BVU campus was beautiful and I was immediately excited to bring Students Fight Back to the ACES program. Everyone was so helpful in setting up and made me feel so welcome! Thank you to Matt and my student volunteers.  I had a great time speaking with the students! They gave great feedback, laughed and we were all entertained by our “scary bad guy”, Jamell.

Next stop was Morningside College. I really had no idea there were so many amazing schools hidden in small little towns! Morningside was another awesome school with a great campus…and a Dairy Queen.

I really enjoyed my time with the students here. We even got to spend a little one on one time learning some basic moves that they could use if necessary. Thank you Andrew for bringing us to Morningside and to the students who made the program so much fun!

Next stop…Old Dominion in VA! Hopefully with a functioning camera this time!

Alabama girl fights back!

When my alarm went off at 3:30 this morning, I jumped out of bed, kissed my sleeping daughter, and headed off to the airport.  As I drove along, I thought…why do I do this? Was this what I really wanted when I got involved in Fight Back Productions? I was exhausted and a little bitter when I finally sat down in the airport to wait for boarding.  So, I checked my email to fill the time and found a google alert for an article with the title Ala. girl escapes from attacker by fighting back.  I was instantly reminded why we at FBP do what we do and why so many people in the self-defense industry push forward despite being confronted by the harsh realities of humanity every day.  We all say if we reach just one, it is worth it.  Well, kudos to this young girl and to everyone who worked to get her the training she needed to be her own best protector!

My flights went great and now I am ready for an afternoon of rest and relaxation before bringing Girls Fight Back to Texas State University – San Marcos tonight!

Maria High School girls get their FIGHT on!

It’s Sunday at 8:30 p.m. here in rainy Nashville, and the week is (finally!) winding down. But before I let this one get away for good, I just had to stop and tell everyone that Maria High School might just be the coolest high school in beautiful Chicago. I spent an incredible hour with the ladies there this past Thursday, and I can’t say enough about their rockin’ energy level. Don’t let the sweet Catholic schoolgirl outfits fool you – these girls have serious personality! They even teamed up to make uber-creative Girls Fight Back posters, and gave me the (impossible) job of juding the best.

But spunk aside, these girls are committed to being their own best protectors, equipped with the tools they need to stay safe and fired up about FIGHTING BACK!

Thanks to everyone at Maria who made the event a smashing success, and thanks especially to the girls, who brought their A-game and demonstrated in living color what Girls Fight Back is all about. You go girls!

Woman Fights Back – And It WORKS!

We here at Fight Back Productions spend a lot of time not only teaching women how to be their own best protectors, but celebrating their success when they are. But the sad truth is, beyond the pages of this blog and a few others like it, women’s self-defense success doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves.

That’s why I was thrilled to see this headline in The New York Times this week:

“Woman Fights Off Attacker”

The story tells of a woman who was grabbed in a choke hold while waiting for an elevator, threatened with a piece of broken glass and ordered to “take off your clothes.” The woman refused, began to fight back and ultimately chased her attacker down the stairs and out of the building. When she told an on-duty security guard of the would-be rapist and he declined to take action, this hero of a woman continued to chase her attacker down the street, determined that he should be caught and prevented from harming other women. He eventually disappeared into the city, but what’s amazing here is the bravery and the courage that this woman showed in handling what could have been a deadly situation.

Not only did she protect herself, but she was determined to protect other women by taking this creep down. She had him literally running scared through the streets of New York! Heaven help the creepy bad guy who tries to attack a woman ready to fight back. Not only will he NOT get what he’s looking for, but he’ll piss her off in the process – and when that happens, he better look out.

This courageous New York woman reminds all of us – along with all of the creepy weirdos out there – that there is indeed NOTHING more dangerous that an angry woman.

Remember the Alamo

AlamoI am sitting on my return flight from San Antonio right now after only 3 hours of sleep and wondering what possessed me to take the earliest available flight today.  But, hey I’ll be home before I know it, right?

My time in San Antonio has been brief (less than 24 hours), but awesome!  I have loved the weather (hot and humid – just like home) and actually got to do a little sight seeing!  My hotel room wasn’t ready when I got in, so I cruised on downtown and took in the sights at Riverwalk and the Alamo.

But I wasn’t here to enjoy the attractions!  I was here to deliver a Students Fight Back presentation at the University of Texas – San Antonio and man, those kids were awesome!  As soon as I got there the room flooded with volunteers from the Campus Activities Board, Student Wellness Center, Women’s Resource Center, peer educators, etc. etc.  They were all excited and ready to rock.  We got started pretty late, but hey, college kids are used to late nights!  The presentation was great and very interactive.  Afterwards, I stuck around to take some of the audience through some ground fighting techniques.  And the best part of all?  I didn’t get lost!  Not on the way to UTSA and not going back to the hotel!  For me, that makes a really great gig!

FBP productions will be back in Texas in just a little over a week to deliver the goods at Texas State University – San Marcos and Baylor University.  It isn’t too late to get your school on our rockin’ Fall 2009 tour! Contact us for more info!

Rabbis Fight Back

Choosing a Preschool

There is an old German proverb that reads: “Who takes the child by the hand, takes the mother by the heart.” From the minute a slimy, closed-eyed, squalling little baby is laid across its mother’s chest, the mother begins to look at the world differently. (Check out FBP founder Erin Weed’s latest blog about natural childbirth and her journey into motherhood.) What used to look like a fun, predictable place now looks like a cesspool of predators, electrical outlets, and sharp-cornered coffee tables.

I have successfully guided my daughter through this dangerous world for almost 17 months now and despite her share of falls (off the bed, down a short flight of stairs, off the couch, etc. etc.) she is today a strong willed and independent toddler.

Today was her first day of preschool.

Of course, that sounds dramatic. Really today was her first day of ever being cared for by someone other than a family member. She is attending two half days a week at a local church preschool which amounts to a whopping 6 hours a week in the care of someone else. Still, it is a big step for us.

When we were looking for a preschool, I thought we were doing everything right. We grilled our friends for recommendations; we toured a few options; we asked questions and finally made a decision. The final decision was really made by Cassie. Like most toddlers, she has separation anxiety. Every place we toured she was clingy and unwilling for us to set her down for even one moment. But this one preschool, she really opened up and dove right in. She played with toys and smiled at teachers. We thought she was making her choice known. So we went with it.

A month after filing out my registration form and signing over that first tuition check, I was reading Protecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker and realized…maybe my (then) 13 month old wasn’t the best person to rely on to choose a safe preschool. I was reading the chapter about choosing a preschool and feeling so stupid. I had asked questions, but they hadn’t been the real questions on my mind. I had let others convince me what a great place this was, but didn’t even ask if they background checked their employees! What had I done?!

I decided to make an appointment to see the director and ask all the right questions this time. I knew that this place was such a great school that her answers would put me at ease. I was shocked to find out that while the school does background check employees, it doesn’t background check volunteers or follow the Department of Justice Guidelines for the Screening of Persons Working with Children. I tried hard not to let my disappointment show as I received honest, yet somewhat scary answers to my child safety questions. I was beginning to realize that I had a hard decision to make. My child could not attend this school.

As I was about to wrap things up, the director of the preschool shared a particularly candid story with me about a time that she had suspected a parent of abusing their child. Hearing about her quick and decisive action gave me a glimmer of hope. We began to have a simple and honest dialogue about safety. No more questions with pass or fail answers, just a few adults talking about how to make their community safer for children.

In the course of this dialogue, I shared my connection to Fight Back Productions and talked about the book Protecting the Gift. I shared with the director and her assistant director everything that I was learning. She said, “Then maybe you can help us.”

Later that afternoon, we were exchanging emails about fingerprint based background checks and video camera security systems. My suggestions were treated with respect and just recently, the director shared with me that the church had approved the installation of a new security system!

I was amazed by what could happen when just one person asks the tough questions. So today was Cassie’s first day at that same school. I’m confident that as long as I keep speaking up and the administration keeps listening and working with me, we can create an environment where the kids can not only be safe, but can grow and thrive.

For more information about what you can do to be sure your child is safe at school check out this article.

71-year-old helps capture her attacker!

It’s not uncommon for women to question their own ability when it comes to self defense. Especially, when they have never encountered a combat situation before. With that in mind, I wanted to post a reminder that when in doubt, act it out!

71-year-old, 3 time Olympic gold medalist, Dawn Fraser, fought off and helped capture a man who tried to rob her home north of Brisbane yesterday. When asked how she did it, Fraser replied “He threatened my life and I got really annoyed. This guy came out of the gate and grabbed me and I grabbed him by the ear and I kicked him in the groin.”

Hats off to Fraser, who is a shining example that you can open up a can o’ whoop ass, at any age!!

Watch the news clip here.

S.P.E.A.R System

This past weekend, I took a Level 1 training course offered by The Realistic Female Self Defense Company in Chapel Hill, NC.  The instructors at RFSDC are certified by Blauer Tactical Systems, Inc. and teach what is commonly called the S.P.E.A.R. System.The S.P.E.A.R System is based off a ton of scientific research conducted by Tony Blauer into the physiological stress responses of human beings.  It focuses primarily on the universal way that humans flinch.A group flinches from a baseball bat

I can’t begin to describe the physiological background of the system because it is very detailed and well researched.  And it is hard to compare the system to others I have been exposed to, so I decided the best way to evaluate the training I received on the S.P.E.A.R. System was with a list of pros and cons.  Please know that these are simply my thoughts and you can form your own opinions by checking out the links above and signing up for a class if you are interesting in learning more.  You can also read this interesting interview I found with Tony Blauer in Black Belt Magazine and look for videos on YouTube.

Pros –

Cons –

  • Seems to require more upper body strength and focus more on upper body techniques
  • Not much focus on verbal de-escalation techniques (how to get out of a fight without fighting)
  • Level 1 and 2 courses are difficult to locate through the primary website

If you are interested in finding a S.P.E.A.R System class near you, my advice would be to search S.P.E.A.R System Self Defense and your homestate on google or a similar search engine.  You can also contact the Realistic Female Self-Defense Company via their website as they travel and may be offering a class near you at some point.

All-in-all I met some great, passionate people and added another tool to my self-defense toolbelt.  Keep checking the Fight Back Productions blog for info about various self-defense systems that we train in.

13 year old fights back!

There is an interesting article in the NY Post about a 13 year old girl who used feigned compliance to get her attacker to relax his grip until she could run away and get help.  What is most interesting to me is the way that this attack has affected her.  I think some times in our society we think “well, this was only an attempted kidnapping or attempted rape, so she didn’t really get hurt.”  Even though this encounter only lasted a few minutes, it has still greatly changed the way this young child feels about and perceives the world.  We as a society need to remember to have compassion with all victims and survivors regardless of what they have endured.

I hope and pray that years from now, when she has regained her trust in humanity, she will remember this final statement she made in court:

“There is only one good thing that came out of this,” she said. “I showed other little kids that they can fight back. You can always fight back to the bad person that’s trying to hurt you.”

Fall Tour Kicks Off!

This past Monday was the official kick off of our Fall 2009 Tour! I had the pleasure of speaking at the College of Notre Dame at Maryland and man, were those girls awesome!

As I was traveling to the campus, I was enjoying the sights of beautiful downtown Baltimore when I suddenly came upon a huge mass of people crossing the road.  Now, I’m not a big sports fan, but I realized immediately from their matching purple garb that they must have all been going to a game.  Oh well, I thought, I’ve got plenty of time to get there and my trusty GPS to guide me.  As I kept driving the directions I was being given like a good girl, I realized that I was getting closer and closer to the action.  I was going to drive right by the stadium where the Jets and Ravens were playing a pre-season game (ended up being an intense one with a final score of 24-23, Ravens).  And that’s when my GPS instructed me to turn right into the preferred fans parking lot (which requires a parking pass).  I knew I was in trouble.  It wasn’t long before I was frantically asking passers-by for directions while my GPS beeped wildly at me for going off course.  I finally pulled off into a gas station parking lot, my GPS reconfigured my route, and before I could shout “Go Ravens” out of my car window, I was back on the road heading towards CNDM.

Once I arrived on campus, we had a few kinks to overcome including a missing lav mic and a relocated presentation that didn’t end until 30 minutes before I was supposed to start my program. But you know what? None of that mattered one bit! I was still ready to roll a good 10 minutes prior to our start time and the technology gods were smiling on us because my powerpoint and our awesome FBP promo video both ran smoothly (well, mostly smoothly).

This group of girls was funny and so on top of it.  One girl offered to let me use her pepper spray to demo and when I started answering questions, they fired off answers so quickly I couldn’t tell who was saying what.  By the end of the night, I’d decided the best word to describe them was spunky!

All-in-all I’d say it was a great experience for my first time out.  Everybody was super nice to me and the campus was gorgeous.  All my flights were on time, my hotel had a free happy hour (I didn’t partake because I had a gig to go to, but still that’s pretty cool!), and I felt great about starting our fall tour off right!

It isn’t too late to book a fall Fight Back Productions program on your campus or for your corporation.  Check out www.fightbackproductions.com for info and let us teach your staff or students how to kick some tail!

Job Hunting Safely

Nowadays, nearly every one I know and their mama is looking for a job. Job searching used to mean scanning the classifieds in your local paper, but these days your job search probably means a lot of time spent on the Internet.  And the Internet is a fabulous place to find the latest job listings from companies right next door or all the way around the world.

If a good portion of your day is spent refreshing the pages on Craigslist, you have probably seen some listings that seem too good to be true.  Maybe your intuition has told you to be wary, but with more and more Americans running out of their unemployment benefits, you may just feel desperate enough to lower your guard and take the risk.  Unfortunately, you don’t have to look too hard to find stories of crimes that began with contact through websites like Craigslist.

A visit to the Craigslist safety page gives you the following safety tips & information:

The overwhelming majority of craigslist users are trustworthy and well-intentioned.

With billions of human interactions facilitated through craigslist, the incidence of violent crime has been extremely low.

Nevertheless, it’s very important to take the same common sense precautions online as you would offline.

When meeting someone for the first time, please remember to:

  • Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re going
  • Take your cell phone along if you have one
  • Consider having a friend accompany you
  • Trust your instincts

Taking these simple precautions helps make craigslist safer for everyone.

For more information about personal safety online, check out these resources:

These are good tips, especially for meeting someone off the personal ads, but how can we apply this information to job searching?

Since your first contact with someone posting a job listing online is probably through email, consider opening a free email account solely for the purpose of job searching.  You can create a professional looking email without using your last name for example: heatherm@gmail.com.  This way if the listing is an email phishing scam, you won’t have your regular email pounded with spam.  Likewise, you can use an answering service so that you don’t have to give out your actual phone number and a PO Box for a mailing address.  Maybe you have a few friends that could benefit from this as well?  Split the costs!  For more information about cyber-safe resumes check out: Job Hunt.org.

By the time you agree to a face-to-face interview with someone, you should have learned the name of the company and hopefully received a job description.  Be sure to check the Better Business Bureau for details about the company.  You can confirm the legitimacy of the business and find out a lot about how they run their business by the number and type of complaints issued against them.  You’ll want to find out as much as you can about the company before heading to the interview not only to assure your safety, but also to give the best and most knowledgeable interview that you can.

When you arrive for your interview, make sure the business appears legitmate and play close attention to your intuition.  Certainly, tell friends and family where you are going and take your cell phone along.  Just don’t forget to silence it for your interview.  There is nothing wrong with having a friend go with you on an interview as long as they stay out of sight (maybe in the car or at a nearby coffee shop).  Hopefully, by this point, you have done your research on the company and are ready to get that job!

Self Defense for Everyone

This past Wednesday, I had the honor of giving my very first ever Girls Fight Back presentation at the Industries for the Blind here in my hometown.  I worried so much before I got there.  I worried about offending the girls I would be speaking to, I worried about not being able to present the information in a way that would be effective for them,  I just worried… A LOT!

I presented to a small group of girls with varying degrees of vision capabilities who were a part of the IFB’s Summer Camp Experience.  When I arrived, they were chowing down on pizza and laughing about their morning adventure visiting a local farm.  I got set-up and started talking to the girls about the program.

Within 10 minutes of starting the presentation, I stopped worrying.  I stopped because these girls had already interjected a dozen or more personal stories and asked what felt like a hundred questions.  I realized that the desire to learn and the yearning to tell our own stories transcends our differences.

The gig was a huge hit with the girls and their teacher even asked if I would be willing to come back and teach the staff at IFB!

On Saturday, I presented two programs back to back.  One for teens at a local teen club and one for mommies at a local church.  Doing two gigs in a row like that was tough!  But once I got started, I found all this energy rushing into me.  Both were a great success and I couldn’t believe the amazing response I got from all the participants.

You would think that I couldn’t find three groups with greater differences than these.  I mean, high school girls, mommies, and teenagers with varying degrees of blindness, what do they have in common?  But after each presentation, at least one audience member approached me to express their fears.  One young girl at IFB said that she lived in fear of being out after dark.  One teen told me there was a certain street near her house that she didn’t dare walk down alone.  A couple of mommies talked about spending thousands of dollars on high tech alarm systems, but still being overwhelmed by the fear that someone might snatch their children away from them at the mall, grocery store or local park.

As women, we all live with these fears.  Fears that were passed down to us by our mothers and their mothers before them.  This week, in a brilliant article in the Huffington Post, writer Ellen Snortland (author of Beauty Bites Beast) suggests that we put an end to this legacy of fear by creating instead a legacy of safety.  Along with some awesome safety tips and a sweet shout-out to Girls Fight Back, she argues that self-defense training should be a mandatory part of getting a driver’s license.  What do you think?  Check out the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-snortland/license-to-live-time-to-m_b_253316.html  and leave us your thoughts in the comments!

Violence Today

I’m sure anyone who would turn on CNN and learn of a mass shooting in their hometown would lose their breath, as I did, when I learned what happened in Pittsburgh Tuesday night. I fell asleep watching the news, not having any specific details of the incident. I saw the phrase “random act of violence” flash on my screen as I turned off the lights…but I knew better.

I know that violence is almost never random.  I know that there are almost always warning signs. I know that people who commit mass shootings have likely planned it for a long time and often have told someone along the way.  I know that there will be at least one person in the aftermath saying “I knew this was going to happen”.  

The media had already proved most of the above to be true before I got to work the next morning. The gunman had published an online journal for nearly 10 months, detailing his troubles with women and his loneliness.  It outlined the women who had avoided him and some that he felt had taunted him. He also discussed the lack of a support system in family and friends. It’s hard to read, but important in learning. Even a lonely gunman can recognize that, as he mentions his “practice papers” and notes, giving permission to publish them as “some people like to study that stuff”.  

It’s actually in this continuous cycle of learning that I find I am most frustrated. With every shooting in a gym or a school or an office- we promise to learn more. With every attack or sexual assault on a college campus or in the community- we promise to learn more. With every new story of a husband who killed his wife after years of abuse- we promise to learn more.  We promise to learn more and are grateful for the solemn warnings. Personally, I don’t think I can bear anymore of these “warnings”.

At some point we need to stop learning and apply what we now know. We know that violence is a huge problem that is getting worse every day.  We’ve been warned. We need to attack it with such force that there should barely be time to sleep! We need to stop saying “I knew it” and start saying “I know it”.

Perhaps this is my sad rant at continuing to see Facebook updates of friends who were affected by the Bridgeville shooting. I can’t help that I’m frustrated hearing again and again, “I can’t believe this happened here, to us”. To be clear, I am speaking in general terms. I’m not proposing to know everything about this particular case, the people involved, or what anyone should or should not have done.  Instead, I’m proposing education. If for no other reason than to take the shock of violence out of the minds of people who will find themselves completely unprepared should they be faced with it.

For every act of violence there are people that have a plan. They want to talk to you about the warning signs of mental illness and depression, they want to teach your children how to survive a school shooting, educate you on sexual assaults, promote awareness of hate crimes or teach you how to fight back.  

I’m so proud to be a part of Fight Back Productions, spreading the message and the knowledge of being your own best protector. I’m hopeful that people will continue to be open to learning more from FBP and other organizations who are fighting everyday to make things better.

Rape victims charged

The official definition of the word victimization is: to make a victim of.  The definition of re-victimization is: again anew.  Often in the anti-violence community, re-victimization is the concept of a child who endures emotional abuse as a child, will then find themselves in emotionally abusive relationships as an adult.  That’s why so often, violence is referred to as a cycle, which goes round and round…

So when I read this article in the Huffington Post today, I couldn’t help but think the same theory applies here.  Take a victim of rape, who makes the brave decision to go to the hospital and have an exam performed to collect evidence in hopes of catching and prosecuting her attacker.  After being sexually violated in the most vile way, you can only imagine the trauma that an invasive vaginal exam can have on a woman.  And that’s not the re-victimization part yet…that’s just what she has to go through in order to get her second dose of hell.

No, the re-victimization I’m speaking of is being doled out by state governments in sending a bill to rape victims to actually pay for their exam!  Here is a segment from the article:

Congress created the Violence Against Women Act to protect victims and encourage them to report rapes. The law known as VAWA has forced many states to crack down on billing problems.  But ambiguities in the law still allow a remarkable disparity in the legal system: Some rape victims, unlike victims of other crimes, have to pay for basic evidence collection.  “We never ask a robbery victim to pay for the cost of fingerprints,” said Sarah Tofte, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, which has been tracking how states comply with VAWA.

“As a victim recovers from her assault, the last thing she needs is a bill for her exam,” said Katherine Hull, a spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.  “Rape is not something you can budget for.”

Overall, I believe this is a national disgrace and we need to do something about it.  Most of the work we do at Fight Back Productions is focused on the proactive or preventative measures a woman can take to avoid becoming a victim.  But we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that violence is happening NOW and we need to take care of people who have been affected by it NOW.

Take action!  Get familiar with the Violence Against Women Act by reading up at Wikipedia.

Or…

Visit the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) website to learn more about getting involved in the role of DNA testing for victims of rape.