SUNY Potsdam – Supporting Each Other and Fighting Back!

SUNY Potsdam September 2015

It was really exciting to bring our badass Students Fight Back event to SUNY-Potsdam! These students really came together to support one another all while learning how to be their own best protectors. At the top of our SFB program, we share our story and emphasize that because violence touches each and every one of us, violence is truly an epidemic. The reason why we at SFB & GFB feel that it is so important to talk about the reality of violence in our everyday lives is that we know the more we talk about it, the more we will be able to realize we are not alone. When we realize that the experiences we ourselves have lived through or the experiences of close friends or family members are not isolated events, we allow ourselves to build greater connections within our own communities.

A week before the SFB event in Potsdam, a tragic event struck a nearby campus. What I admire about the students of Potsdam and the students in the surrounding area, is that they were able to come together after this tragedy. It was wonderful to have students familiar with our GFB program show up as well as a few first-timers! We were very lucky to have Bradon, a senior at SUNY-Potsdam, return for a second year as our not-so-scary Creeper McCreeperson volunteer. I want to add a special shout out to Jackie and Ruth for putting together and running a truly special SFB event.

Thank you & go forward peacefully!
-SFB Morgan

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!

8.29.15 Texas A&M Commerce 4A

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

We’re Back! with Morehead State

Morehead State students standingWe are back! On Saturday morning at 9:30AM (my earliest Fight Back gig to date) at Morehead State.. I threw down with 900 freshman, Students Fight Back style, for our first seminar of the fall semester. That’s right. We were kickin’ booty before you had your Wheaties.

Why, you might ask, were we up so early throwing some serious eye-strikes? Students Fight Back was  part of the Freshman orientation week, which can be the highest week of crime out of the entire school year. Props to Morehead State for taking preventative steps to give the students the skills they need to succeed from day one in college.

But as I’m sure you can imagine, some freshman were less than thrilled to be dragged out of bed for a Saturday morning seminar. I even walked by one student who said “It looks boring, I think I’m gonna leave.” I love hearing these comments, truly. Mainly because I get it. I like my sleep as much as a newborn babe. And let’s be honest, who wants to spend their Saturday morning talking about ‘not getting attacked’? But I laugh to myself when I hear these kinds of comments because by the end, they’re pretty stoked to know how to palm strike to the face, and then some. Wait. Hold up. Enjoy a seminar that was put on by your college? No way.

Way! In fact, I had two students approach me after: ‘I thought this was going to be another boring rape prevention program. Like “don’t rape people.” Yeah, we get it.’

But they continue. ‘This was kick ass. Where can I take a full-contact self defense class?” Boo-yah. Not only did they dig it, but they wanted more.

Oh the sweet sound of success. Teaching our future generation how to be their own best protectors while looking out for each other…all while making it badass. This is what makes Girls Fight Back and Students Fight Back so awesome. These are skills they will use for the rest of their lives so why not make it fun, memorable, and leave them wanting more? I can’t think of a better way to kick off the school year.

Thank you MoreState for letting me throw down with your bright, fresh blood and for being leaders in prevention and awareness on campus. You all are rockstars. Till next time…

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

The Booming Market of Sexual Assault Prevention on Campuses

For years, we at Girls Fight Back and Students Fight Back have promoted training that teaches women to trust their instincts and be their own best protectors.  Studies show that this is still the most effective method of preventing sexual assault.

We are happy that in the years since our inception, awareness has grown and programs have been put in place to encourage bystander intervention and help us all to look out for each other.  The programs, apps and products mentioned in the article below are all utilized to assist in preventing sexual assault, and that is a very good thing!  Go public awareness!  We love it!

Ultimately, while we definitely think there is room for ALL OF THESE APPROACHES, the problem of sexual assault on college campuses exists NOW and in addition to these other approaches, we have to teach women how to take care of themselves.  It isn’t victim blaming, it is just practical.

Here’s the NPR article I mentioned, check it out!

-GFB Kat

We are on tour and on our way to you!

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If you want to bring Girls Fight Back, Students Fight Back, or Fight Back on Spring Break to your campus, call us at 866.769.9037 or email us at gfb@girlsfightback.com and also check out these dates when we are touring to see if we are headed to a campus near you:

8/15/15 – Morehead, KY

8/26/15 – New York, NY

8/29/15 – Commerce, TX

9/8/15 – McCook, NE

9/9/15 – North Platte, NE

9/9/15 – Coeur d’Alene, ID

9/16/15 – Richmond, VA

9/17/15 – Potsdam, NY

9/27/15 – Platteville, WI

9/28/15 – Milwaukee, WI

9/30/15 – Eau Claire, WI

Topics we cover in Girls Fight Back & Students Fight Back that are shown to be EFFECTIVE sexual assault prevention for college students:

  • Self-Defense including how to yell and break holds
  • Definitions of Consent
  • Debunking the myth of stranger danger and defining acquaintance rape
  • Bystander intervention
  • Clarifying the right to personal boundaries
  • . . . with an approach that is dynamic, includes role-playing, discussion, and problem-solving

It’s a complicated issue and there is no one perfect approach, but a multi-faceted approach to sexual violence including these techniques has shown time and time again to save lives and decrease violence.

This great article from the New York Times states:

Sexual violence is a serious hazard on college campuses. . . .  In a randomized trial, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, first-year students at three Canadian campuses attended sessions on assessing risk, learning self-defense and defining personal sexual boundaries. The students were surveyed a year after they completed the intervention. The risk of rape for 451 women randomly assigned to the program was about 5 percent, compared with nearly 10 percent among 442 women in a control group who were given brochures and a brief information session. . . .  “It’s an important, rigorous study that shows that resistance and self-defense training needs to be part of college sexual assault prevention,” said Sarah E. Ullman, a professor of criminology, law and justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was not involved in the research.

We are dying to teach you how to kick some booty, and have fun in the process.  Give us a shout today!

Mandatory Fun at Andrew College

Andrew College June 2015

At Students Fight Back, some of the programs are mandatory attendance for certain organizations or classes. You can always tell at the beginning of a program.. Because let’s be honest, who is just jonesing to give up their free night to learn about self-defense? Not you average college student. However, since we aren’t your typical self protection seminar, about 15 minutes into the program, most of the students are on board and ready to kick some booty.

At Andrew College way down south, I spoke to the entire student body. Yep. All of them. And it was mandatory. Uh-oh.

The program started with our handouts being made into paper airplanes. Awesome. But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?
I told them we needed to work on their airplane-making skills… ‘cus some of these were just sad. Yeah I called them out on their game and had a little fun. That’s right friends… we can learn about self defense AND have fun. Oh yes we did.

The further we got into the program, the more cats got on board. People were hollering and killing the badass ballet moves, while also hitting the pause button to realize we have a serious problem on our hands as a society and we must take the steps to be ready if we ever find ourselves in a sketchy situation. It was definiely a success, especially starting off with a room full of about 300 students who were less than pumped about self-defense.
At the end of the program I had two sassy ladies approach me and give it to me straight: “You know, I didn’t want to be here at all tonight. But, I actually ended up having a lot of fun. Thanks for coming.” Awwwww Yeah! Thank YOU! This, my friends, is the best feedback I can receive. Moments like these make me puff my chest proud to be a part of such a unique organization that can connect with students on their level. Because at the end of the day, its ALL about the students, our future leaders.

Thank you Andrew College for rocking out with me for the night.. it was my pleasure and I hope we can do it again soon. Till next time..

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

“Don’t Mess With Texas…” – Lamar State College

Lamar State College 2015

Don’t mess with Texas, friends. Trust me. Especially if you are at Lamar State College. Students Fight Back visited both of these fine campuses in one day and holy smokes, they brought the heat.

We threw down in a mere hour and the energy at these schools, oh my. I was on an adrenaline buzz just being around these fierce birds. They kept me on my toes and were so pumped to be there.. it. was. amazing. And I have to give a shout out to all of the nurses and men on campus.. both showed their unwavering support for this cause and are leading by example for the rest of the student body.

Thank y’all (cus that’s what you say in Texas.. duh.) for sharing your time and energy with Students Fight Back and taking a solid stance against the violence culture. You are our leaders of this generation. Till next time…

With Love and Gratitude,

GFB Bree

Redbirds Fight Back!

gfb illinois state

I had such a blast at Illinois State University teaching these powerful students how to become their own best protectors. A lot of the students were concerned about walking alone on campus at night, which is something all college students can relate to, and although these Redbird’s rocked the badass ballet, they also know that the easiest way to up their general safety starts with actively choosing awareness! I can assure you that no one should ever mess with these students, because they can seriously kick some ass! I want to give a special shout out to Lorena, Mark, Gail and UPB.

Thank you and stay warm ISU!

-GFB Morgan

Bringin’ it Home with Oklahoma State University

OKU Nov2014

Oklahoma State University wrapped up my 2014 Be Your Own Badass Tour. And boy did they bring it home. We had such a great time with a small but rockstar group. We got real about solid bystander behavior, upped our psychic capability with an intuition chat and of course, busted out our best badass ballet. It was such a wonderful group and the energy was awesome. I can’t wait to visit these ballers again soon and share the love. Thank you so much OSU for having Students Fight Back. Until next time…

Light and Love,
GFB Bree

Students Fight Back at Lyndon State College

Lyndon State College 11.13.14

Students Fight Back made it’s way up to Vermont to visit the peeps at Lyndon State College. It was the first legit snow fall of the winter season, but that didn’t stop these badasses from throwing down. This small but mighty crowd got the conversation rolling about living a fearless life by being your own best protector, which I’m sure will only continue amongst their peers. Thank you Lyndon State for taking the steps to be proactive and make your campus a safer and stronger! Till next time..

Light and Love,
GFB Bree

Students Fight Back – not with mere muscle but as a way of life!

Students Fight Back

Manhattanville College Castle Throw Down!


Last Friday we kicked off our first throw down of the Fall 2014 Girls Fight Back Tour. And apparently we are rollin in style this year, cus friends, I spoke to Manhattanville College peeps in their castle. Yep, that’s right. A castle. Uh-huh. We fancy. It was my first time speaking in a castle, and probably the first time the bad ass ballet ever went down in a castle. In fact, there were a lot of firsts. It was the first day on campus for every student in the audience. Their first night staying on campus! Yep, they don’t get much brand-newer than that (yes, that’s a made-up word). Props to Manhattanville for getting this essential message out LITERALLY from day one. Proactivity at its finest.

But all though my new friends might be green, they were mean and tough when it came to fighting back. So engaged and ready to support one another, asking important questions and ready to take personal safety into their own hands. It was awesome-sauce. All I can say is the class of 2018, you bad. In all the right ways. Thanks so much Manhattanville for letting me kick off (and kick ass, in the most literal way) your first day as freshmen. Boo-yah!

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Virginia Tech – Samanata’s Legacy

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You know, we have a lot of fun here at Girls Fight Back, but ultimately our work is about healing. One of our core values revolves around resiliency and states: “Though the statistics are shocking, we are here to say that we will not conform to the violence. Our world and most of our individual lives have been wrongfully altered by violence. We believe in recovery on individual, societal, and world levels.”

Last night, I presented Students Fight Back at Virginia Tech, a campus very much in recovery. Of course we all remember the horrifying mass shooting that took place on April 16, 2007 and even more recently, a charismatic and well-loved VTech student named Samanata Shrestha was murdered. It was Samanata who was very much on my mind last night as I took the stage to present. I didn’t know her personally, but in conversations with students and faculty before the program, I really got a sense of her energy and the legacy she left behind. It is in memory of all those we have lost to pointless violence that we do this work. And I like to think that the laughs we have in our programs serve as reminders that we can triumph. Evil does not win. We can choose to take back our peace.

Many thanks to everyone who came out in the snow and cold. Your presence was a gift to me.

-GFB Heather

Fight Back on Spring Break!

Recently our own Bree Swartz joined HLN’s Lynn Berry on Weekend Express to discuss how to make a game plan for a safe spring break.
You can make a game plan too! Watch the interview for helpful tips on how to be a spring break badass, and check out the Girls Fight Back spin-off program website, SafeSpringBreak.org. Now is the best time to book Fight Back on Spring Break for 2015!

Bree Swartz

Georgia Southern University #nailsit!

When it comes to spring break safety awareness programming, Georgia Southern University #nailsit! (Yes, I just used a hashtag in a blog post. Roll with it.) Their greek organizations are focused on educating about the importance of designated drivers; they have FREE campus-wide HIV testing today; and last night, campus health services brought our Fight Back on Spring Break program to about 350 of their students. We had a blast!

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You may not know much about our Spring Break program because we only roll it out once a year, but it is a fantastic co-ed event that includes all the awesome info from our Students Fight Back program, but also focuses on travel safety tips, as well as, how to make smart decisions about just how much fun you are planning to have on your spring break. It’s one of my favorite programs to teach because I get to tell some great (and some horrifying) stories from my junior year spring break trip…… Ah, memories….

It’s never too early to start planning for next year, so give us a call if you want to bring Fight Back on Spring Break to your campus! And if you want to have an amazing turnout like GSU had last night, here’s a tip: connect with greek life on your campus. Our program was brought in my health services, but through their connections with greek life, we had a turn out that required us to order extra chairs….TWICE! Nice, huh?

Thanks to all the students who came out last night! You were so much fun! Bird.

-GFB Heather

Kennesaw State University Kicks off the Spring Tour!

You know, traveling the country as a GFB speaker really is a dream job.  I love seeing different parts of this great country we live in, meeting awesome new people and teaching men and women how to kick booty if necessary.  However, there is the less than glamorous side of our jet-setting ways.  From the colds picked up in crowded airports to the sometimes questionable items offered at the free hotel breakfast buffets, there are many times that us GFB speakers simply have to put on our “big girl panties” and deal with some less than ideal situations.  At this point, I should warn you that this post may be considered TMI (too much information) for some of you.  Proceed with caution.

For our first program of the 2011 Spring Tour, I took a leisurely 5 hour drive down to the adorable little town of Kennesaw, GA.  I left pretty early in the morning, so I drank lots of coffee and I was nursing a bit of a sore throat, so I was downing water like crazy.  I made a couple of stops; one for lunch and one to fill up the ole gas tank, but as I approached Kennesaw, my bladder was making it pretty clear that well, to put it bluntly, I needed to pee….like whoa!  (I told you this wasn’t glamorous, ok!?)

Now, I wasn’t far from my hotel and I was determined not to make another pitstop, so I pushed my way through and hoped for a speedy desk clerk to help me get checked in as fast as possible.  And when I arrived at the hotel, the desk clerk was wonderful; efficient and professional; everything I could have hoped for!  I grabbed my key and within minutes I was standing outside my assigned room.  Only problem was…my keys wouldn’t work.  I tried desperately to get it to open with one key, then the other, but after about forty tries with each key, I headed back downstairs.

Next problem, the desk clerk had been called out to help another guest and she was alone on duty, so I stood there at the desk waiting to be helped for what felt like 45 minutes and I’m sure was less than 2 minutes in reality.  When the desk clerk came back, she was again curteous and kind.  She rode up the elevator with me and tried to open the door herself.  No success.  She told me to relax there in the hall lobby and she would return with a new room key for me.  Which was great, except that my ability to relax was long gone as I stood there in the hotel hallway doing everything short of the international pee-pee dance to keep myself from well…losing it.

I was just starting to consider my options when there she came; my angel, my savior dressed in a blue blazer.  The wonderful staff member helping me arrived with a new room key and and an apology for the inconvenience.  I thanked her profusely, told her it was really no problem and then shut my door, threw down my luggage and raced to the facilities.  Ah, the glamour of the road!  Lol!

All my suffering was well worth it because Kennesaw State University students came out for our Students Fight Back program ready to have some fun.  The lectures chair at KSU, Jilly, put together an awesome event that featured lots of laughs, yummy pizza and some major butt kicking.

The first program of the tour always sets the pace for those to follow and if the KSU program is any indicator of what’s to come this spring, we are in for a wicked awesome tour!  I’ve got lots of programs within driving distance this semester, so you can trust that I’ll be making many more pitstops during my future drives!

From Miami to Walsh.

Miami University throwin' down!

Okay, I admit both places were in Ohio so it wasn’t quite the glorious road trip that the title implies.  Last week, I spent some quality time in Ohio and the first stop was Miami University and they were super cool . . . and creative.  For example, The Programming Board has an amazingly large banner that they named Abraham, which stands for “A Banner Reaching Awesome Heights and Miracles.” Once I heard that, I knew I was with good people and that we were going to have a good time.  I had a great time talking with everyone about personal safety and kickin’ booty when necessary.  A big thanks goes out to Devin, the event coordinator and Scary Bad Guy.  Devin is actually a repeat Scary Bad Guy and has mad skills in this area. 

The next stop was Walsh University and, while they did not have a banner named Abraham, Bernie, one of the event coordinators, taught me a catchy song called “Stop,” which is a song about ending harassment and other inappropriate things.  The crowd was awesome, very interactive and entertaining.  I have to a throw out another big thank you to Steven, my very, VERY nervous Scary Bad Guy and Mike, one of the other awesome event coordinators.  And, Mike don’t think I forgot about the pony I demanded in return for this seminar.  I’ll keep an eye on my mail for it.  🙂

Overall, my trip to Ohio was a huge success and a lot of fun.  I had a great time with all of the awesome students at Walsh and Miami!

GFB Jaime with the awesome event coordinators at Walsh University!

Students Fight Back at Pennsylvania College of Technology

Penn College of Technology was my second stop on the Fight Back Pennsylvania extravaganza and it was a blast!  Staying true to their name, they had a stellar technological set up with multiple flat screens to blast out our Students Fight Back power point.  I would like to give a big shout out to everyone who worked to bring us to campus, especially Mike Hersh.  Mike was particularly helpful because he let me volunteer him to play the role of our “Scary Bad Guy” and still spoke to me after the seminar was over.  Thanks for being a trooper, Mike!   

Thank You.

             Well, hello there everyone! I just wanted to take a quick second to thank all of GFB’s  supporters for what you enable us to do.  Something we hear a lot at GFB is “thank you.”  We hear it after seminars from our awesome clients and great audiences.  We see it when you post it to our facebook page and when you email us.  But the truth of the matter is you deserve the thank you because, without you, our mission would have never come this far. 

                I was thinking about this yesterday on my flight from Portland to Philadelphia.  Some people, when I tell them that for a certain part of the year I live in airports and hotel rooms, they ask me how I do that.  Well, the truth is that it doesn’t really give me any pause and on my flight yesterday I kept thinking how lucky I am.  Sure, I’ll be living in airports and Hampton Inns for a while but I meet the most amazing and inspiring people when I ‘m on the road and I get to talk with them about something so fundamental to all of our lives.  The truth is that, without all of the support you have given us over the years, we wouldn’t have been able to spread our nearly message as far or nearly as fast.  

                Thank you for making what we do possible and keep hoping with us that someday it will be a service that is no longer needed and working with us to make that day happen.

                Strong. Resilient. Spirited. Unified.