“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

OU crowd

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​

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

TGIF at Lynchburg – Badass Style

Lynchburg June 2015

Friday nights are usually pretty difficult to draw in a crowd of college-aged kids to Students Fight Back. And let’s be honest: who can blame them? Self-protection is a hard enough sale, especially when competing with Friday night beer specials. Yet, take a look at the picture seen here. Look at this beautiful, FULL auditorium room at Lynchburg College. They are KILLING IT, with a diverse room of women and men being total badasses.

We seriously had so much fun. The crowd was uber engaged, played like the latest Marvel superheroes, looking out for each other, and pumped to learn some new moves. I think one of my favorite moments was after I taught the “knee to the face” move in the Badass Ballet. My volunteer creeper, who usually has little-to-no idea what he has signed up for, looks at me with dead serious face and says “Man! That would really hurt.” Why yes, fake creeper, it would. I shared with the audience and reminded them that we are learning these moves so creepers don’t mess with us. These aren’t moves I want you to use against your roommate after he eats all your peanut butter. These are skills to defend yourself. Protect yourself. To save your life.

I love joshing around with all the peeps I meet. It’s definitely one of the favorite parts of my job, to teach self defense and have a crowd roaring like Lynchburg. But I also love knowing the GFB team is traveling around the country leaving college students with tools to literally save their life.

Damn. It’s a day well lived when you can say that.

Thank you so much Lynchburg for being such rock stars and making it a priority to lead empowered and safe lives, even when that means choosing SFB over your favorite watering-hole on Friday nights. It was an honor to thrown down with you all. Can’t wait till next time!

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

Holla’ for Hofstra

There has been a significant shift in the crowd and energy at our GFB programs in the last year. A lot more inclusive to men, all of our programs now meet Title IX requirements and a majority of our programs are geared towards both women and men. I recently spoke at Hofstra University and though the environment and school was set for our standard SFB program, there was a serious girl power vibe taking place that night. It was ladies night, fo sho.

Hofstra May 2015

I love the shift in our program and that our society in general is more inclusive for men to feel supported in joining the conversation on self protection. But there is this small part of me that really loves that sisterhood feeling that is still very alive and should be.  There can be so much competition and “cat fighting” going down during the high school and college years when a lot of students feel that pressure to be the best and have it all (while I find in your later years, you realize everyone can be their best self and have it all, but I digress). It was just so cool to see all the BS pushed aside and totally focused on empowering and supporting each other for 75 minutes. It was all about being our own best protectors, looking out for each other and living a fearless life.. All with an unspoken fierce-sisterhood energy in the room. Oh hell yes.

Thank you for sharing your campus and energy with me Hofstra. You are all inspiring  badasses.. I look forward to the next time!

Love and Light,

Bree

UConn.. we applaud you.

Last night GFB Speaker, Bree and Speaker in Training, Leah dropped in at University of Connecticut – Storrs on the Be Your Own Badass Tour to bring Students Fight Back to the Huskies.  This event was hosted by the wonderful UConn Student Union Board. These badasses owned the night with energy, love, laughter, and some serious ass kicking . . . it was incredible.

Having gained quite a bit of national attention recently after some very controversial comments about sexual assault on campus, I would love to shine light on a very important fact: The UConn Student Union Board, lead by Kyle and Samantha, had invited Students Fight Back to campus months prior to these events and the media attention. These Huskies were leading the school long before the media attention to create a positive change in their student culture and to let their voice be heard that violence is unacceptable. The Board and students in attendance last night were not reacting to all the recent violence and media attention . . . they were taking the proactive, courageous steps to make personal safety a priority.  And THAT is the kind of action that deserves resounding cheer, applause, and media attention.

Thank you UConn Huskies . . . you are truly fighting back!  And for that, we applaud you.

Much love from the Students Fight Back and Girls Fight Back team.

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