3.28.17 – Youngstown State University – Housing & Greek Life team up!

What do you get when Housing & Residence Life and Greek Life team up to empower their campus community with awesome life skills to be fearless anywhere they go? You guessed it… a Students Fight Back event!

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I was so humbled to learn their Director of Housing & Residence Life remembered us when she hosted our program years ago at another campus…and that’s why she brought us to her new campus. That means the world to us and it is awesome when we hear that our program and message have an impact on people…that’s the whole reason we do this work!

We had an almost even 50/50 mix of men and women in the audience which is always great to see at an SFB event. People of all genders have to work together to end violence in the world and be allies for each other. That’s how we make a safer world for everyone.    IMG_7191 IMG_7182

My 2 demo assistants were fabulous! They helped me illustrate for the audience how hot spots, areas on that body that cause pain and disability, are not gender specific. And the parts of our bodies that we can use to defend ourselves are not gender specific either! That means the techniques we teach can be used by and work on ANYONE! That’s what we call empowerment! The students in the audience were energetic and interacted with me throughout the program which was a blast! We had some great laughs and learned why the pinky finger is probably not the ideal hot spot to aim for.

Thank you so much, YSU, for inviting me to your campus, for welcoming me so graciously and for being so passionate about being your own best protectors! You are all amazing!

Cheers,

GFB Nicole

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St. Mary’s University – Together we will end violence!

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A mere 4 hour drive from Beaumont, TX lies the idyllic campus of St. Mary’s University right in the heart of San Antonio. This was the final stop on my Texas tour and in fact 3 campus organizations combined forces to host us: Student Government, Interfraternity Council and Collegiate Panhellenic Council. Thank you all so much for bringing Students Fight Back to your campus!

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I learned from the sponsors in advance of this presentation that due to a more supportive reporting climate at St. Mary’s recently that there have been an increase in sexual assault reports.   Students were on edge and concerned that this was because there were more assaults happening so we discussed this today. We explained that more reports usually means that survivors are feeling more comfortable, supported and confident to report their assaults which explains the uptick in the reporting numbers.   It can seem counterintuitive however; this phenomenon is seen in the sexual assault prevention community quite often so I think we were able to set the students’ minds at ease. We always encourage survivors to report, but that choice lies solely with the survivor and the important thing is to support them no matter what they decide to do.

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Another topic we discussed in depth was the importance of being an ally and active bystander. It is easier than you think and one of our favorite techniques here at SFB is non-complementary behavior. That means responding to the person in a way that is opposite how they’re acting. You can switch the energy around by using humor or asking a completely unrelated question. This is a tactic we can all use and of course, if a situation is violent we recommend calling 911.

During Q&A some great questions came up like “What if a man is being attacked by a woman…do they respond the same way we just learned?” The answer is Yes! If you feel like your life is in danger you are absolutely allowed to defend yourself regardless of your gender identity. Plus the methods we teach can be used on attackers of any gender…all humans have the same ‘hot spots’. We do want to point out that although attacks on men by women do happen, the vast majority of attacks on both men and women are perpetrated by other men. The best advice we can offer is that you have to use your own intuition and awareness to make decisions for yourself in situations that arise in your life.   Bottom line is that you are worth fighting for!

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Thank you again for having me and for being such awesome participants! You are your own best protector now go out and live your life fearlessly!

Cheers,

GFB Nicole

Lamar University—Ready and Rearin’ for Spring Break!

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Just a short 30minute drive from my morning presentation at another college in Orange, TX is the beautiful campus of Lamar University. Their students were heading off for Spring Break in a week and they were in need of some awesome Spring Break and Travel survival tips. Don’t worry…we’ve got you covered!

We tackled the basics about leaving the country (or the state), arriving at your hotel, and getting a taxi. Then we dove into some deeper discussions about how to party safe if you’re drinking and remembering that date rape drugs can be slipped into ANY drink…even apple juice. But it’s even more important to note that alcohol itself is the most common date rape drug. Does that mean you can’t go out and have a great time? Not at all! It just means that we need to look out for each other, use our awareness and trust our intuition. Even if someone isn’t in your group and they look like they need help, we need to step up and be there for them and get them to a safe place if necessary.

Last but not least we learned how to physically defend ourselves. We always teach this part last because we want the best fight to be the one you never have to fight. We layer the techniques throughout the program because we want fighting to be the last resort. But if it ever comes down to defending yourself, you are worth fighting for you and we want you to know how to kick some serious booty to get away! These students at Lamar certainly proved that they are forces to be reckoned with!IMG_6689

Go forth and party like Rockstars…Safe Rockstars!

Cheers,

GFB Nicole

Lamar State College, Orange: Full House for SFB!

Howdy Texas! Lamar State College-Orange was the first college on my college tour of Texas this week. Texas always has a special place in our hearts here at SFB because this is where our boss lady Gina is from!

 

As the students started filing into the Student Center for the presentation we quickly found that we were going to need more chairs to accommodate the crowd. Bring it on! Sure, some of these folks were getting class credit for being here (nothing wrong with that!) but I know that by the end of the seminar these students not only learned a great deal, but were glad they came!

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The volunteers for the verbal & fight demos were phenomenal: animated, fun and relatable to the audience. We showed how to use deflection as a tool to get away from a potential creeper and that it’s ok to lie to a stranger…no need to give up your personal information! We talked about how body language is key to your awareness and that if your intuition cues you into a problem that you should absolutely listen to it.

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These students were a tremendous pleasure to meet and I think they took home the most important fact…They are worth fighting for!

 

Cheers,

GFB Nicole

TCU is Ready for Spring Break!

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Texas Christian University is a beautiful campus in Forth Worth with staff, faculty and employees that care deeply for their students. They invited me out to present the Fight Back on Spring Break! program to empower their campus to party, travel and live safe lives no matter where they are in the world! Before the event the sponsors invited me to dinner at Uncle Julio’s where I had the BEST Mexican food I have ever had…and I live in California! Thank you both so much for treating me to a Fort Worth staple so start the evening!IMG_6651

When the program was set to start, I was met with a crowd of enthusiastic students who were ready to learn tips on setting boundaries, using their intuition and the basics of safe travel and partying. I asked the audience where they were going for Spring Break and I heard answers like Thailand, Germany, Costa Rica and Mexico. That is so amazing that these folks are having the opportunity to travel the world at a young age and experience different cultures!   Learning to defend ourselves and be our own best protectors is even more important when we are out of our element and in a new environment where we may be tempted to be less aware.

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We covered ways to be an active bystander using non-complementary behavior and that looking out for the effects of predatory drugs is a great way to be an ally for your friends…or anyone you notice who may be in trouble. We learned how to use verbal skills to set boundaries and we finished things off by learning how to physically defend ourselves with the Bad Ass Ballet. These students were fearless, vocal and their enthusiasm couldn’t be contained when it came time to practice the steps. It helped that my 2 volunteers, Kevin and Paulie, were fabulous!

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I am so happy I was able to meet such an incredible group of students who were fired up to learn and were excited to discover just how powerful they really are at being their own personal badasses. I hope you all have a fantastic and safe Spring Break!

Cheers,

GFB Nicole

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

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

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

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

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

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

The badass answer?

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

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

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

Cheers!
GFB Nicole

 

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

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HEY LIONS!!  (Hey What?!)

You RAWK, that’s what!

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cheers!
GFB Nicole

Behind the Scenes with LIM College 

 

Lim College April 2015LIM College specializes in programs for peeps on the business side of the fashion industry. Students Fight Back visited LIM last month and let me just say: these cats are fiercer than the catwalkers you see on Project Runway, friends. And might I suggest, probably way more fun.

LIM College is taking action to make their sassy campus the safest and most empowering place it can be. The Counseling & Wellness Center who sponsored SFB were so passionate about getting the word of empowering young men and women to protect themselves (and each other by being an active bystander) they had a raffle for a free iPad. Um yeah. I thought it might be a tad classless to ask if I could enter, but don’t think it didn’t cross my mind.

For reals this crew was fabulous. And my male volunteer, which can honestly be a awkward job that they don’t know they’re volunteering for, was simply amazing and so supportive of the conversation taking place.

Thanks so much LIM College for allowing me to be a part of your behind-the-scenes posse for the afternoon. You were amazeballs and I can’t wait to see you all the next time ’round.

Love and Light,
GFB Bree