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

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

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

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

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Safe Break at Oklahoma University!

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

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

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

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

 

Love and Light,

Bree

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Takin’ Care of Business at Neosho CC

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

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

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

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

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

Fearless in Puyallup!

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

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

 

Go forward peacefully!

 

-SFB Morgan

Keepin’ it Safe in the Backyard of The Big Apple

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Living in New York City, you think you know most of the major spots nearby. So it was a pleasant surprise to find the very quaint and beautiful Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, right across from my backyard. It’s a lovely campus with a spectacular view of The Big Apple, but even more impressive students!

Stevens Institute of Technology welcomed Students Fight Back! and made the statement that a safer campus is a priority. Being a male-dominated school, I applaud Stevens Institute for taking initiative. It speaks to the very loud voice of our young generation that both males and females want equality, and are on a mission to end violence for all. In this spirit, we talked about being an active bystander and looking out for each other, why assuming someone is a “creeper” based on stereotypes is actually putting yourself in a more harmful situation and of course, we kicked some serious ass. It was a stellar event from start to finish!

Thanks so much Stevens Institute of Technology for letting Students Fight Back! be a part of your community. Looking forward to visiting my neighbors again soon! Until next time….

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Light and Love,

GFB Bree

Stephen F. Austin FIGHTS BACK!

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Stephen F. Austin State University is such a cool crew, with contagious energy and that serious FIGHT BACK! spirit. I got to see this not only during our seminar, but in on-campus events surrounding my presentation.

As we point out in our program, no matter how safe a school, neighborhood or city might be, violence is unfortunately something that touches all of us. SFA saw this first hand, with an attack on campus several days before our seminar and one literally the same night I was speaking on their campus. The students told me all about it, and how in both cases they believed the attacker was not a student. Scary stuff. But the INCREDIBLE news is that in both instances, the women fought off the attacker and were able to get away.

Hell. Yeah.

See what I mean about that fight back spirit? The truth is this can happen on any campus, and I’d like to give Stephen F. Austin a standing ovation for taking the initiative to make their campus a safer place by educating students with programs like Students Fight Back! Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your brave community and most importantly, for fighting back.

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And a special shout out to Student Activities Association, one of the hardest working campus organizations I’ve seen! They did such a stellar job planning the event, getting badasses in seats and getting the community hyped up about making the campus safer. You all are making a difference, truly. Can’t wait to come visit you all again reeeeeeeeal soon!

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

St. John’s Fisher College wraps up the 2015 Tour

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St. John’s Fisher College wrapped up the Girls Fight Back! and Students Fight Back! 2015 Tour… And man did we finish hella strong. We had over 70(!) students at a non-mandatory event (FYI that’s like winning the Super Bowl in student event planning when it comes to an “issues and ideas” event, in case you didn’t know). Yep, this crew was seriously SO much fun!

Sometimes a crowd can take a little time into the program to warm up… I get it, I mean, we are talking about some serious stuff here but in a totally different way. We make it REAL talk. Person to person. So there can be some resistance. Not this crew at St John’s. We were vibin’ right outta the gates!

I quite possibly laughed harder and had more fun than any other event this year! It was amazeballs working with students who were so eager to learn, excited about making their safe campus an even safer place and being their own best protectors in any situation! Before I left, they were already talking about ways to take “next steps” and bring on more intense seminars. This gang is the group of students you look at and feel hopeful & grateful for the future of our society. They truly blew me away!

And of course none of this would have been possible without Claire and the SJFC Feminist Caucus and sponsors going the extra mile to raise funds, planning their pants off and being the hostest with the mostest. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your hard work and heart-warming hospitality. I HAVE to come visit you all again… You made my season! Till next time…

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Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Friends University + SFB = BFF

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When I saw Friends University, I was hoping this crew was as welcoming as their name sounded.  Holy cow. They should be called Best Friends Forever and Ever University. I was completely blown away by the generosity (check out this Taylor Swift-quality green room!!!), excitement and energy. We had so much fun!

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The energy in the room was simply contagious and they were so into learning about being their own best protector. I love going to schools were I realize my “job” is kind of the coolest thing on the planet. And Friends University made that realization happen.

I have to give a special shout out to FACE for being an incredible host, throwing on a stellar event and, of course, helping me get my cowgirl on whilst in Wichita, KS. They hooked me up with the coolest ranch and suited me up in their FACE T-shirt for perfect riding swag!

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Thanks so much Friends University for having myself and Students Fight Back! to throw down with all of you… You are all my BFFs. See you on the road again real soon…

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

 

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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

 

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