Category: Girls Fight Back!

“We All Need to Hear This” at Northeastern Junior College

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You know you’re doing something right with your message when you kick off your 2016 Fall Tour with feedback like: “We all need to hear this.” “I was pleasantly surprised to see how positive this presentation was… I’ve seen a lot of negative things like this, but this was so different. Thank you.” Um, heck yeah Northeastern Junior College. Thank YOU for keeping it real (and fun!) for your Welcome Back Week and letting Students Fight Back! be a part of your positive vibe. Special shout out to the student athletes for making an extra effort to be there and to NJC Student Government for hosting the stellar event. You are all badasses and can’t wait to see you again on the road. Till next time…

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Safe Break at Oklahoma University!

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Every year the University of Oklahoma hosts a program called Safe Break to remind students, especially incoming freshman, to have a fun but safe spring break. This year, Fight Back on Spring Break! was invited to give a mini-version of our program, along with a two other speakers.

Safe Break was started by two sorority sisters who were best friends with an OU student named Lisa Wieder who never made it back after her Junior spring break. Lisa was on a beach in Texas and decided to jump in the back of truck with a friend. Seemingly a harmless choice on beach. But when the driver pulled a quick u-turn, Lisa and her friend were thrown out of the back of the truck. Both were knocked unconscious. Tragically, Lisa never woke up. Lisa’s parents fly back to OU every spring break to share Lisa’s story in hopes of inspiring students to make smarter and safer choices, especially on spring break.

As a speaker, I love sharing Shannon McNamara’s story, the inspiration for GFB. So it was a change of pace and quite eye-opening to be touched and inspired by another young woman whose life was taken too soon. I was incredibly moved to hear Lisa’s parents talk about their daughter and how our decisions are not only affecting you, but affecting those you love. A lot of the tips Lisa’s parents shared complemented GFB’s message: trusting your intuition, choosing awareness and looking out for each other. They also drove home how important it is to carry identification on your person, as it was a while before they could identify Lisa because she didn’t have any ID on her body. And they mentioned tips that can often be overlooked, like being sure there are no distractions while you’re driving, especially talking on the phone and texting. It takes your brain 27 seconds to get completely refocused on driving after being distracted by something like a phone call or changing the radio station; meanwhile, it only takes a second for something to cause an accident.  These were just a few of the points the Wieders shared in their very important and heartfelt program.

It was a privilege to be a part of OU Safe Break and I was honored to be able to share Shannon’s story alongside Lisa’s story in hopes of inspiring students to live a fun and empowered life while also being safe and smart. Thank you to the Wieders for being so brave and strong to continue sharing Lisa’s story and making a difference in the lives of others. A special shout out to Mckenzie and the Panhellenic team for making such incredible strides to put the safety of their community first. I can’t wait to visit you all again soon and hope you all had a wonderful and safe spring break! Till next time..

 

Love and Light,

Bree

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Takin’ Care of Business at Neosho CC

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Girls Fight Back! made a first-time visit to Neosho County Community College in Kansas last week. It was a great group, full of spunk and life… Ready to make their campus safer and lead badass lives!

Today I’d like to give a shout-out to the students of NCCC, but also the peeps behind the scene. A lot of schools that invite GFB are able to do so thanks to the hard work of Student Activities, Panhellenic or Student Senate. These organizations are often lead by a single group sponsor who’s expected to tackle any number of issues and take on multiple positions. At NCCC, Allison, the Director of Residence and Student Life, is wearing many hats. Along with the help of her team, she had to make sure the funding was available for the event, reserved the auditorium at an ideal time that didn’t conflict with a lot of other extracurricular activities, made sure I had all the tools and equipment I needed to present, secured two dependable student volunteers… The list goes on. Needless to say it takes a village to offer programs for students and these big-hearted souls don’t often get the love they deserve for their hard work … Not to mention making me feel so welcome. I had an exceptional week of speaking engagements and it simply would not have been possible if it weren’t for people like Alison and her team who are brilliant at their job. So thank you Allison, and all of the directors and leaders who go above & beyond to make sure your school is safer and your students come first. And thanks most of all for being such kick-ass hosts. It means more than you know.

Look forward to visiting you all at NCCC again soon! Til next time…

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

Queensborough CC Taking a Stance Against Violence

Yesterday I got to visit one of the largest community colleges I’ve ever been to– right in my own backyard. Queensborough Community College is doing it big, with a vibrant, diverse, active and engaging community!

We had a solid turn-out for our Girls Fight Back! program, and incredible support from the men on campus. I think for the first time in my 5 years of speaking I had more men than women line up to chat with me after the program. They weren’t just passively showing support, they were engaged and wanting to be a part of the solution. Hoo-rah!

Perhaps one of the reasons the gents were so present was for the reason that didn’t actually hit me until mid-seminar. We talk in our program how a lot of students on campus don’t think much about violence. You’ve heard it before: “Violence is something that will never happen to me. Our neighborhood is safe. Things like that don’t happen here.” This is often the mindset in small communities or rural areas, like my hometown. But here in NYC, I assure, violence is something that everyone is aware of all the time. Sadly, you are always on alert, even in broad day light in a “safe” neighborhood. The students I spoke to yesterday are unfortunately not strangers to violence in their neighborhood. But the great news is they are taking proactive steps to make their campus safer and learning to be their own best protectors in any situation. They want to make their neighborhoods safer today and safer for the future generations. Can I get a hell yes?!

Thank you Queensborough Community College and the Student Government for having me to your beautiful campus and for refusing to turn a blind eye to violence. I had a great time throwing down with you all and look forward to doing it again soon!

Until next time…
Light and Love,
GFB Bree

LIM College is Ready for a Badass Spring Break!

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LIM College kicked off the first Fight Back on Spring Break! segment of 2016 as students everywhere are gearing up for travel across the country. After our time spent together, LIM students are locked and loaded for a fun, safe and badass spring break!

This is my 3rd time at LIM College and we’ve showcased all three of our seminars at three different events within the last two years. Talk about a commitment to making sure as many students as possible hear the message of GFB! I love working with people who are as passionate about students learning to be their own best protectors and making every effort to ensure more and more students have these tools in their back pockets. The partnership we’ve formed with LIM College is awesome and I can’t wait to visit again. A HUGE thank you to the Health & Wellness Services at LIM for making it possible and putting their students’ well-being at the forefront of their mission. Jody, Kelly and Jennifer … You are rockstars!!! Till next time…

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Happy International Women’s Day from Eastern Illinois University!

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Yesterday was International Women’s Day and I don’t think I could have concocted a better way to celebrate if I tried. I traveled to Eastern Illinois University to speak to a badass group of women at an incredible event hosted by their Student Government. This was a particularly special gig for me as it was the first time in my 5 years of speaking that I got to throw down with the alma mater of both our founder, Erin Weed, and, of course, the inspiration for Girls Fight Back, the beloved Shannon McNamara. It was an incredible group with great energy from start to finish. And Erin and Shannon’s Greek family, Alpha Phi, were out in full force… Sharing their love and energy, honoring their beautiful sister who fought fiercely against her attacker, but was taken too soon almost 15 years ago.

However, it’s more apparent than ever that Shannon’s spirit inspires women and men alike to be their own best protector everyday. Her sorority sisters approached me afterwards sharing how Shannon’s story not only moved them to lead safer, badass lives, but brought them closer together as a community. In our presentation, we share with students that the most important thing to bring into a self-defense scenario is the unwavering knowledge that you are worth fighting for and this will not be the end of your story. Shannon fought with all her heart and her story is so big, it continues to live on and inspire millions across the globe. I’m truly honored to share Shannon and Erin’s story, along with the rest of the GFB team, so we can all live in a more peaceful and empowered world as women. Happy International Women’s Day to all the brave women out there, and especially to one of the most badass women to walk this earth, Shannon. Your fight lives on.

Thank you Eastern Illinois, the Student Government and It’s On Us campaign for having me on campus … It was truly memorable and I can’t wait to see you all again. Till next time…

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Kickin’ it with Centralia College

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I visited Centralia College last week to kick off my 2016 Fight Back! Season! Don’t let this small crowd fool ya…  They were a fierce and  rowdy crew over at Centralia, especially that baseball team ;) Although Students Fight Back was required for student athletes, there were quite a few other students who came to show their support for a safer campus and learn a few skillz.

One of the new tidbits we are sharing in our 2016 program is that a lot of people get a little consumed by the idea that an attacker is always a stranger, whether a random person on the street or someone you barely know. However statistics prove that it’s much more likely to be an acquaintance.

Case in point, a faculty member at Centralia (who helped Student Activities and the Athletic Department throw a stellar show), shared with me he had a recent incident where a security guard tried to unjustifiably convince him to get in his car. Could this have ended in a no big deal situation? Perhaps. But thankfully we’ll never know, as the department member fully trusted his intuition, refused to get in the car and actually started to call the head of security before the guard trying to get him in the car left. So not only does this story drive home that a creeper can be anyone, including someone who should be “safe,” but also that anyone, regardless of gender, can be harassed and assaulted.

So glad this audience/staff member shared this inspiring story with me (we all need to be sharing our stories​)​ about steps he took to make the community a safer place, for himself and others. And a huge thank you to the Student Activities and Athletic Department for making it possible for me to visit the amazing community at Centralia College. And for sharing your energy and stories. Look forward to visiting you all again soon! Til next time…

Love and Light,

GFB Bree​

Fearless in Puyallup!

It was awesome to start off the new year with a Student Fight Back program in beautiful Puyallup, WA!  What I love about our GFB and SFB programs is that because they are so interactive, no two shows are ever the same. At Pierce College we had a smaller audience, but these students came to learn how to be their own best protectors and truly filled the auditorium with their voices and their presence. One of the points we emphasize in our programs is that “the best fight is the one that’s never fought” (i.e. having some strong verbal strategies is so important!). A lot of us have a hard time using our voices, especially in a situation that can be confrontational, but watch out world because these fierce students have no problem standing their ground, assessing the situation and setting some strong verbal boundaries!

Even when we are with just a few people, if we feel like they have our back, it makes us feel more comfortable, more confident. It is always incredible to see a group of students support one another throughout the program; it’s incredible to see students stand side by side as they learn how to set firm boundaries with their bodies and their voices. Thank you, Pierce College, for being such strong allies and for finding strength within yourselves as well as in one another!

 

Go forward peacefully!

 

-SFB Morgan

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

 

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

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!