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

 

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

University of Richmond – “Do you feel powerful?”

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“YEEEEESSSSSS!” came the thunderous reply as the Weinstein Center at the University of Richmond echoed with the roar of women’s voices. The intensity of that reply gave me goose bumps and made it quite obvious that these courageous sorority sisters were feeling powerful indeed after watching the program!

The Panhellenic Council sponsored this Girls Fight Back event and the students were visibly pumped from the beginning as they started filling in and taking their seats.  The energy in the room was electrifying and I knew we were going to have an awesome time together!

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Once we got started we were on a roll to empowerment! Everyone cheered when I showed them the sparkly red high heel and explained we’d be learning how to use it as a weapon later in the program. But seriously, who wouldn’t want to know how to do a solid instep stomp to protect themselves from a creeper?  Stomp away!

Then we learned a little phrase to use when we need to take back control of a conversation when the person is trying to manipulate us with charm.  That tidbit of info was met with some surprised faces and uneasy murmurings…as if the thought of asserting oneself verbally was the most uncomfortable thing in the world.  Well, it totally can be for some folks and that’s ok! That’s why practice makes perfect and it all starts with knowing that it’s ok to set your own boundaries and know you have the right to have those boundaries be respected.

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When it came time to practice our verbal skills I had the help of 2 university police officers who switched off being my demo volunteers.  That was the first time I’ve ever had 2 volunteers and it was so much fun being able to show the audience different scenarios with 2 different “creepers”. Then I got to kick their pretend creeper butts when it came time for the Bad Ass Ballet!  What great sports they were and the ladies loved it!  We were palm striking and groin kneeing like champs and these sorority warriors were not hesitant about practicing their moves.  It was awesome to see so much enthusiasm!  So it wasn’t a surprise when at the end they just about blew me away with their resounding “YES!” to my question.

Thank you all so much for your warm welcome, energy, hospitality and eagerness to learn how to be your own best protector.  I am so happy that I had the chance to meet you all and please remember to go forward peacefully!

 

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

 

UNITY! Greek Life and Friendship University of Riverside!

I had an absolute blast with the Greek Life students at the University of Riverside!  I was really humbled to be a part of the Fraternity & Sorority Involvement Center’s unity week: their goal was to promote community and in fact this is the first time they have had a program like Students Fight Back for their organization.  What an honor! The pillar of focus for Tuesday was Friendship, and nothing says “BFF” like learning how to stand up for others as an active bystander and rocking your bod into ready position if a creeper makes a move!

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I got a warm welcome right away—and I definitely have to give a special shout out to Carly (one of our incredible sponsors) and the Blue Team (I wore that shirt just for you gals)!

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We dug into all the great tidbits of how to trust your intuition, being aware of folks who try to manipulate us and recognizing that ANYONE can be a creeper so it’s important to be aware.

The enthusiastic crowd of men and women were super engaged and willing to learn!  When it came time to get up and practice the badass ballet, I could see the confidence building in their eyes and it totally showed as they rehearsed the moves.  It gave me goosebumps!  Our volunteer “creeper” couldn’t have done a better job and we all had a laugh as we discussed groin strikes at length!

After the show I met many folks who said they were super empowered by the program, which is the best kind of feedback anyone can give us.  And I loved posing with ya’ll for photos afterwards…you are all so unique and inspiring!

Thank you so much UC Riverside for inviting me for your awesome event!  I won’t forget your hospitality, passion and energy.  I hope you move forward peacefully, in the spirit of friendship, and remember always that YOU ARE WORTH FIGHTING FOR!

Cheers!
GFB Nicole

Pacific Hills High School – Raise the Roof!

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Girls Fight Back visited Pacific Hills High School yesterday and they raised the roof with their badass-ness! I love speaking to high school girls because they have such energy and passion about everything…especially in learning how to live fearlessly and recognize creepers! Mr. & Mrs. Wagner, the administrators who invited us, couldn’t have been more welcoming, supportive and thrilled to empower their girls…especially the Seniors heading off to college.

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(the picture above links to a video of Nik and her creepy weirdo in action)

Together we laughed, we realized that our fav pair of heels can be an awesome improvised weapon and we learned that if someone grabs your leg in a fight…just kick ‘em with your other leg! These girls were super engaged and asked awesome questions which I love! And let’s not forget our awesome male volunteer who was a dynamite “creeper” for us and a perfect example of how men and women working together can create change.

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Thank you so much Pacific Hills for letting me part of your community for the afternoon! You all seriously rock!

Cheers!
GFB Nicole

Bay Area Girls are Badass!

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Want to know what I found out first hand after meeting a sassy group of high school seniors on Monday… Bay Area girls are BADASS! These ladies were so enthusiastic about learning the badass ballet that I had to keep reminding them that this is a no-contact course! Guess that means some local self defense classes are going to have a ton of new sign ups soon..which is awesome! Some of these gals are heading for international trips this summer so we talked about safety & travel tips as well as the standard awesome collection of empowering skills. These ladies are not only ready for college but for the world beyond! And of course a big shout out to the super mom, Claire Mallet, for putting this whole event together. It’s not every day that a group of high school girls get a personalized Girls Fight Back presentation before graduating! Keep on kicking ass and educating yourselves ladies, and thanks for letting me into your “girl group”!

-GFB Nicole

Creepers Beware in Nantucket!

We had a full house at the Girls Fight Back event in Nantucket last week as moms and daughters gathered to learn some strategies on how to
be their own best protectors!  It was so much fun to see these awesome women of all ages so eager to learn and so engaged during the entire program!  You know it’s a great group when you have girls suggesting the bootie strike before we do!Nantucket2

We learned a few tools of manipulation, practiced some “no apologies” verbal strategies and everyone totally nailed their ready stance.  Not only did those palm strikes mean serious business, those yells at each badass ballet step were powerful for sure… Creepers BEWARE!

I have to give a shout out Liz and Liv, the two bad ass young women from Nantucket High School who, along with their awesome moms, were the organizers of the event AND they secured all the sponsors!  Thank you for showing us what it means to be an advocate for your community and to empower others.   And a big thank you to Nina, Carolyn and all the sponsors who believed in them and supported them because without you this incredible event wouldn’t have been possible!

Here’s to living your lives fearlessly wherever you go…from the island of Nantucket to the world beyond.  Your fierceness will not be forgotten and I’m so happy I got to know you!

-GFB Nicole
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Heart Overflowing – The GFB Academy of 2015!

 

GFB GinaWhen I agreed to pick up the baton from the amazing Erin Weed and take over Girls Fight Back, I had no idea just how much space this company, this mission, and these women would take up in my heart.

Heart. Overflowing.

GFB has become my passion project and I am so proud to be a part of continuing Shannon’s legacy. Our new speaking team made up of Bree, Morgan, and Nicole along with our amazingly talented team member, Beth, met with me this month in Los Angeles for a few days of speaking practice, fight training, and general sisterhood bonding. We were joined by our founder, Erin Weed, and some great supporters of our program including Bob Martin, Lisa Gaeta, Jennifer Bunting, and our ever so creepy fight partner, Don.

New for 2015!! . . . I spent the latter part of 2014 writing furiously and consulting with a pool of experts to update the script for both the Girls Fight Back and Students Fight Back programs. We wanted to be sure we were keeping up with the changing world in relation to violence prevention with a little makeover, but Academy was the first time I had a chance to see the words on a page light up on the stage. And, it was awesome!  Our new and improved program includes:

  • Using your intuition
  • Safety tips – awareness, eye contact, verbal boundaries
  • How to be an active bystander and a good ally
  • The definition of consent
  • How to support a survivor
  • How to set boundaries that work for you
  • Verbal De-Escalation Skills
  • The basics of self-defense in our Badass Ballet
  • Plus a review of improvised weapons, ground fighting, and how to sign up for a full-contact adrenaline based self-defense course near you!

Bree, Morgan, and Nicole are ready to come to campuses and share with you our collective passion for living our best lives and empowering campus communities to fight back against violence. And now, a few words from the ladies . . . .With love and gratitude,  GFB Gina

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The 2015 GFB Academy was my 3rd time and counting, and it stood in a category of its own. There was something extra special about this academy, something of a new-birth with more certainty and diction, yet being able to look back at where we had been with so much pride and love. Fusing the constants of GFB that will always remain true, fearlessness, spirit, resilience, power, support to name a few, with a fresh breath of inspiration and steps forward to lead this generation. To describe last weekend in one word, although perhaps cliché, it would most definitely be gratitude. For all the powerful women and men who make GFB possible. For our Founder for having the courage to dream big. For our President for being daring enough to take a risk and leap of faith. For the mentors for believing in us and sharing their wealth of knowledge. For our speakers for working their asses off and inspiring me in new ways, and having the lioness-heart to be open to change while impressing their gifts and ideas on GFB. And most importantly, to all supporters of GFB, including you reading this post. You are why GFB is possible, because you are brave enough to believe in a world without violence and take the steps possible to make it happen, while leading a powerful, badass life of love and light along the way. So thank you so much . . . and here’s to a new frontier of GFB. See you on the road:) – GFB Bree

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Self-defense is so much more than the fight; it’s about knowing that exactly who you are in this very moment will always be enough. Regardless of who we are, where we’ve been, the knowledge we have acquired, we have all experienced moments when we felt defeated, but the Girls Fight Back Academy continues to remind me that all of us have greatly underestimated our strength. The Academy provides a space where we can be pushed through our limits, which is emotionally and physically challenging, but so incredibly satisfying. I am beyond grateful for everyone who made this year’s GFB Academy so amazing — this work can only be done when we support one another and truly believe that each one of us is worth fighting for.  – Lots of love, GFB Morgan

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Being a part of the GFB academy was such an amazing experience!  It was my very first academy and the existing group welcomed me with open arms. To be surrounded by such strong, beautiful, intelligent and confident women who are all champions of educating people to change the world is very humbling. I am honored and thrilled at the opportunity to work beside these women, learn with these women, fight back with these women and call these women friends.  Our process is intensive – we put in long hours and it is worth every second of it when we know we are prepared to go out into the world and start empowering other women to live the life they’ve always wanted.  That is why I’m here.  This isn’t about me…this is about the goal of ending violence in the world FOREVER.  – GFB Nicole

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Quickly nearing my two year milestone as a contributing advocate of Girls Fight Back, it seems the need for this kind of program in our modern world has remained ever relevant. It has continued to evolve with the help of the most caring, proactive, and strong women it has been my honor to work with. I look back on Academy 2015 with pride and never ending gratitude in my heart. How does one sum up such an eventful weekend? Intense, emotional, tiring, nerve-wracking, productive, rewarding, empowering, and funny, all at once. It is experiences like this that drive home the importance of our mission at GFB, including the choice to live with purpose, believing in our own worth, and being part of a solid support team. We’re all on this journey together! – GFB Beth

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Every founder dreams of the company they start growing beyond them. I certainly did. And to be in Los Angeles with the growing GFB team, it warms my heart to see this legacy of beautiful badassery continuing in my absence. I was deeply moved during my time with each of them. Their passion for the message, their dedication to getting all the material right, their consciousness around the personal feelings of me and the McNamara family – well, it all felt like a warm blanket of awesomeness around me the entire time I was there.

I was given the opportunity to share the history of Girls Fight Back, from the very early days up until the day I sold the company to Kirkland Productions – and beyond. Because I am lucky, in that Gina Kirkland continues to include me and the McNamaras in her decision making for the future of GFB. She doesn’t have to do this, but she chooses to – and it’s both humbling and inspiring to see her model of leadership as GFB continues to change the world…one empowered woman at a time.

I want to applaud the entire team for all their hard work. I love you all!  – GFB Erin

 

To book a Girls Fight Back, Students Fight Back, or Fight Back on Spring Break for your campus . . . .

866.769.9037

gfb@girlsfightback.com