University of Texas Permian Basin- Falconpalooza Empowerment!

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I had a fabulous time with the students and hosts at UTPB!   I want to send a big thank you to Falconpalooza and Student Life for bringing me out to empower their students. Members of the UTPB Crisis Center and 2 uniformed UTPB Police Officers were in attendance as well which was great! I always love it when the campus community comes together to support a common cause and goal.

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Instead of having just 2 volunteers I had 4 students ready to step in and help me demonstrate our awesome skills! We got it narrowed down to 2 who did an amazing job pretending to be creepers. We covered the importance of trusting your intuition and being an active ally and we covered why an elbow isn’t a first choice if you’re looking for a vulnerable spot to disable an attacker.   An elbow is a great weapon for us to use against an attacker though!

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I fielded a lot of great questions during Q&A including several students who were interested in taking Full Contact Self-Defense classes. One student even commented that since their area is primarily oil infrastructure, a male dominated industry, that there unfortunately are many reports of sexual assaults happening. She emphasized the importance of self-defense training and I chimed in that in addition to self-defense we all need to look out for each other and challenge the rape culture so that we can chip away at the very core of why sexual assaults happen in the first place.

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I hope to come back to UTPB soon and teach even more students how they can be their own best protector and live their lives fearlessly with no apologies!

Cheers,

GFB Nicole

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

“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

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

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​

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