Category: Self-Defense

Ohio Wesleyan University’s Greek Life is on Fire!

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The Panhellenic Council joined forces with the Woman’s Resource Center to bring the Students Fight Back message of self-empowerment and badassery to Ohio Wesleyan University. The sororities and fraternities at OWU each have the option of making 1 or 2 of their planned school events to be mandatory for the other. Lucky for the men, this was one of those events!

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With a room full of 200 students reppin’ all gender identities, sexual orientations and life experiences we got started breaking down myths about sexual assault including why victim blaming is wrong and why fighting back is a choice, NOT a reason to blame a survivor. We discussed the fact that EVERYONE has the right to set a boundary about their body and expect that boundary to be respected. Mic drop!img_4924-2

I had so much fun with this group! The energy in the room was palpable… they were snapping & clapping throughout and we were laughing together through most of the event. I even had a group of men in the front who were super engaged and would shout out answers to me! I love it when audiences get involved! I had 2 volunteers this time: Dr. Dwayne Todd who is not only a professor but also the Title IX Coordinator and Phoebe who was one of the sorority members putting on the event. They did an awesome job of helping me demonstrate verbal strategies, vulnerable hot spots and finally the some basic physical self-defense skills.  img_4925-2

Thank you so much for having me OWU! You were incredible and I hope to see you all again soon. Keep on being badasses and don’t let anyone keep you from living the life that you choose!

Cheers,

GFB Nicole

Texas Tech-We ARE our own best protectors!

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One of the great things about being a GFB/SFB Speaker is that we get to empower people across the nation! I received a warm welcome at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX and we got down with a Students Fight Back event sponsored by the awesome folks of RISE.

The Risk Intervention & Safety Education (RISE) program is a prevention and wellness initiative established for the students at Texas Tech. They are extremely passionate about the health and well being of their Red Raiders and I felt incredibly honored to be able to speak to this group about personal safety and self-defense.

We had an intimate group that was engaged throughout the entire program. We laughed together when talking about an animal’s intuition vs. us humans. Why is it that us humans act like we’re the most intelligent animal on earth and yet we ignore the very instinctual survival method we’re all born with because we think we know better? Um…no. Let’s start listening to that voice so it can help to protect us! We are our own best protectors and when we realize that we become so powerful!

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After the presentation I watched as several folks practiced their new lines with each other (“No. Back up. I don’t want any problems”) and talk about how they’re going to use that the next time they meet a creeper. That was so awesome to see and that is what this program is all about. Empowerment! Education! Taking control of your life! And having fun while doing it!

Texas Tech, thank you so much for having me and for showing me how excited you all were to learn something new. And RISE, thank you for all you do…and for my awesome T-shirt!

Cheers,

GFB Nicole

University of Illinois-Springfield, You are Worth Fighting For!

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Springfield, IL is the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, the capital of the great state of Illinois and home to the University of Illinois-Springfield. It was here at UIS that I was invited to spread the Students Fight Back message of being a badass of your own life!

We had a small but mighty group gathered who were eager to get their knowledge on and we dove right into the basics of trusting your intuition and choosing to be actively aware. My amazing assistant did a great job helping me demonstrate strategies for avoiding a creeper using your verbal skills and then we transitioned into the physical fight segment. Because even when we do a great job of being aware, keeping an eye out for those who would try to manipulate us, and using our voice to avoid a confrontation sometimes we may have to physically defend ourselves. We pointed out all the hotspots that people of any gender identity have such as the eyes, throat, stomach, knees and groin. Each time we discussed a strike or practiced the bad ass ballet steps, my assistant would confirm to me that yes, this was something that would really hurt! I asked if he had been in a lot of fights and he said, no, he played football! Yup, he had first hand knowledge of how all those places were extremely sensitive!

The most important concept that resonated with this highly participatory group was the knowledge that they are worth fighting for. By knowing that, embracing it and not being dissuaded from believing it in all aspects of our lives, we become our own best protectors.

Thank you University of Illinois-Springfield and Student Life for bringing me to your campus to educate, empower and entertain your students! Go forward peacefully!

Cheers,

GFB Nicole

Empowering Women at Bradley University was a Magical Experience!

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One thing was clear at Bradley University- Alpha Chi Omega women kick major ass!

I could feel the energy in the room from the moment I stepped on stage. These women were ready to live fearless lives and learn how to be their own best protectors. The section where we teach “No is a complete sentence” really resonated with this crowd. I think, especially as women, that we are taught that it’s not ok or nice to say no. We go through our lives trying to please people, not standing up for our boundaries and letting others make us uncomfortable because it’s seen as socially unacceptable for us to be assertive and say what we want. Well today these fabulous women re-learned that their body is their own and they have the right to set boundaries and that those boundaries should be respected. It is okay to say No and you’re under no obligation to engage in any kind of physical contact with anyone. MIC DROP!

When we got to the section where we learned about verbal strategies everyone got super excited as I demonstrated some strategies with my amazing assistant/creeper for the day, Nick. We laughed, and we joked and we discovered that learning to protect ourselves can be fun as well as empowering! The energy kicked up another notch we got up to practice the badass ballet. Everyone was incredibly vocal (using your voice reminds you to breathe and it can be hella scary for an attacker) and seemed really pumped to be learning these simple yet effective techniques.img_3902

Some great questions were asking during the Q&A including what to do if you’re in an enclosed situation like an Uber car. Close quarters fighting is really the core of the GFB method of self defense… that is if talking your way out or the double boundary doesn’t thwart the creeper. If someone is going to disrespect your no and your boundaries and move in to grab or hurt you, you have to get in close to not only protect yourself from strikes but also so you can attack full force. In close quarters fighting you aim for the hotspots like eyes, throat, temple and groin and don’t relent until you can get away to safety. Be the cat being given a bath….be fierce!

I want to share a very touching moment that happened after the presentation. A woman came up and expressed how thankful she was that she was able to see the program and that she learned a great deal and it has completely affected her life. She shared her story with me and thanked me profusely for empowering her with the knowledge that she can protect herself, she can walk alone at night without fear and that she doesn’t need a male escort everywhere she goes in order to have an expectation of safety (unfortunately she had other self defense folks who told her this. Major sad face.) To that incredibly brave woman- thank you for taking the time to speak to me and express what this event meant to you. I am so humbled that I was able to help you see how incredible you are and that you don’t have to live in fear. Women like you are why I do this work! I want to empower women so that they can feel powerful, strong and fearless going through their life. I want to give women back that feeling of safety and confidence in themselves. Never forget or doubt that you are a powerful creature and are vastly stronger than you know.

Thank you Bradley University and Alpha Chi Omega for hosting me and for your contagious enthusiasm! You have all touched me with your warrior spirits and I will never forget you!

Go forward peacefully & powerfully!

Cheers,

GFB Nicole

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Small but Mighty Crew from LCCC

The small but mighty crew from Lehigh Carbon Community College were so engaged and eager to learn when I visited Thursday night, we had a heck of time throwing down. And quite a diverse group attended Students Fight Back!, hosted by the wonderful Student Life. I always love seeing both men and women, especially when they are not required to be there, coming together to be a part of the solution in the battle against violence. Such a supportive and connected energy flowed with this group of future leaders, taking a stand to look out for each other and deciding that the rape and violence culture is not something to be ignored, but stood up against, united. Deciding to be their own best protectors in any situation. Deciding enough is enough. So proud to be a part of Lehigh Carbon CC for a night. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your rockstar community . Until next time…
Love and Light,
GFB Bree

 

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University Of Mass Lowell – Good Vibration

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This gang is my jam. My posse. My people. Though it was my second time on campus and there were familiar faces in the crowd, I fell in love with this crew all over again. We had so much fun while learning and empowering each other to live badass, fearless lives. And the energy. Talk about good vibration. Like woah. They were snappin’..  literally snapping their fingers as if it were a spoken word jam (I couldn’t get over this, like geeking out hardcore)… laughing, clapping, hugging, air-punching, getting so physically into it I couldn’t have been smiling bigger.

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This is the spirit of Girls Fight Back! When you get snaps and claps to ideas like “I’m worth fighting for. No is a complete sentence. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no. Start trusting your intuition on every level that it comes….” and so much more, I’m reminded of why the GFB message is so freaking crucial. Thank you UMass Lowell for allowing me to be a part of the social change you are creating on your campus and the empowering message you are sending round the world. You are rockstars. You are future leaders. You are game changers. Can. Not. Wait. To see you all again! Till next time…
Love and light,
GFB Bree

 

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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

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

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

Sacramento State- 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!

SUNY Potsdam September 2015

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?”

Delta Gammas

“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.

Delta Gamma handds

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)

Johnstown Sept 2015

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