All posts in February 2010

Girls Fight Back! St. Mary-style!

St. Mary of the Woods College outside Terre Haute, Indiana is a beautiful place. There’s no getting around that. Even in sub-freezing temperatures, with melting snow-turned mud puddles strewn across the grounds, there is an ethereal beauty on this all-female Catholic campus. Plus, they raise real-live Alpacas (like a llama – very soft, very adorable).

How lucky am I that my job takes me to such interesting places?

The campus may be surreal, but there was nothing tame about the crowd of fierce young women that turned out for Girls Fight Back! on Monday night. The energy was high, and we had a great time “Bad Ass Ballet-ing” into the night.

I’d like to offer a special thanks to Jennifer Cassidy and Jeff Malloy of the Student Activities Committee. Their efforts made the event a rockin’ success!

And a very grateful nod to the three young ladies who took time out of their schedules to drive me by the Alpacas. They were … the highlight of my trip. Seriously.


Wow. That’s really all I can say after spending a week traveling to conferences. Erin spent time talking about NACA and all of the amazing people there, so I won’t get too detailed about that. Her showcase was awesome and preceded and followed by equally awesome speakers.  They had me at “Hello”. I cried the whole time. It made me so grateful to be in this unique “club” of people where everyone is working to make a difference and spread their message. It also made me realize how fortunate GFB is to be so successful…there are A LOT of options for students to bring speakers to their schools!

My next stop after NACA was NGLA (Northeast Greek Leadership Association) in Hartford, CT. It’s been a long time since my Alpha Xi Delta days and I was overwhelmed (in a good way) by that many letters being in one place at one time. I was presenting Greeks Fight Back at this conference. I love this program for many reasons, but mainly because no matter what your personal thoughts might be about the Greek system, I believe they are one of very few organizations on a college campus that can shift the balance of their school.  If the message they choose to send is positive, then there is no telling what can be achieved.

Of course, I was again in good company with some great speakers. Mike Dilbeck was the keynote speaker, discussing his Response Ability Program and as Erin mentioned previously…he is wonderful and his message powerful. I got the opportunity to watch Mark Sterner present his program DUI: A Powerful Lesson. I actually have no words for that and will let you do your own research. I think that program should be required at every school in the country! There were also great programs from Jessica Pettitt, Travis Apgar, Brian C. Johnson (thanks for letting me borrow your speakers) and T.J. Sullivan among others.

I also got the opportunity to meet and have lunch with Alpha Xi Delta leaders from all over the Northeast. I had such a great time and learned the valuable lesson that the vegan option is never the way to go. Thanks ladies!


It was a great trip from Boston to Hartford and back! Thankfully the weather stayed clear and sunny with no snow! I’m hoping for the same in South Dakota next week!!

Niceness vs. Intuition

“He seemed so nice at first.” This is a statement I think we all hear frequently in many different contexts. You might hear a friend say it after going on a second date with someone who was so nice on the first date but turned out to be a big jerk on the second. You might hear a victim of sexual assault saying this about her assailant. It begs the question, what is happening to these nice people?

Here’s the deal. Being nice is a choice, not a personality trait and anyone can chose to be nice for a period of time to get something they want from you even if they are the furthest thing from nice. To put it bluntly, people can use niceness to manipulate you. Now, I’m not saying that you should stop trusting all the nice people in the world, because many people chose to be nice and are genuinely good people. However, if your intuition is giving you a signal that the seemingly nice person you are dealing with is a bad news, trust your intuition.

Your intuition will steer you toward the people you want in your life and away from the people you would rather keep out. Trust it and let it work for you.

Gettin’ Rowdy at Grand Valley State

My horizons were officially broadened this week. This Southern girl headed from twangin’ Tennessee to the Wolverine State (Michigan!) on Wednesday for a rockin’ Students Fight Back program at Grand Valley State University. On my trip, I was reminded of a few very important differences between the North and the South:

1) In the North, snow on the ground – even a lot of snow – does not automatically mean that civilization shuts down. In the South, we cancel school for “cold days,” when it doesn’t even actually snow.

2) In the North, people watch hockey because it’s important to them. In the South, people go to hockey games, get drunk and hope to see fights.

3) And finally, most disappointing to me, in the North, the closest thing I could find to sweet tea was some hippie green tea flavored with honey (it tasted like cough drops). In the South, if you order iced tea and don’t specify whether you’d like it sweet or unsweet, well, let’s just hope you don’t mind a little tea in your sugar.

Cultural differences notwithstanding, I had a fantastic time at Grand Valley. The crowd was pumped, my scary bad guy was awesome (thanks again, Nick!!) and the event couldn’t have gone smoother, thanks to Olivia and her cohorts at Spotlight Productions.

My only regret is that I couldn’t be in two places at once Wednesday night. After the program, we walked through the Student Center lobby to find a fraternity date auction in progress. And let me just say, the men of Grand Valley are nothing if not studly.


We could have a Fight Back Productions date auction. “To the highest bidder goes a date with an ass-kicking girl fighter! Don’t try any funny business!”

Well, maybe not.

Motion Sensor Lights = Very Bad Victim!

OK, time to use your imagination: pretend that you are a criminal. I know, I know. That’s a stretch for most of us (speeding doesn’t count!). But sometimes to stay safe, we have to get inside the head of someone who is up to no good. It’s kind of like when you lose your car keys, and you walk around the house asking yourself, ‘If I were a set of car keys, where would I be?’ Or…maybe that’s just me? In any case, I digress.

In our pretend scenario, you’re up to no good. You’re out to commit a misdeed. Say, you want to peek into someone’s window at night. How do you choose which house?

Well, if you’re a criminal, you want to make life easy for yourself. And you definitely don’t want to get caught. So you’re heading for houses that look dark, houses that will hide you in their shadows.

Now switch out of imaginary mode. You’re just a regular person, a person who doesn’t want weirdos looking in your windows. If we know what kinds of targets those peeping toms are looking for, we can take proactive steps to not be those easy targets. This is called being a bad victim, and it’s an extremely important aspect of safety in your home.

Back to our scenario. I made our criminal a peeping tom because someone close to me told me a story this week, a story that I hope none of you ever experience yourselves. She woke up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water. As she rolled over, she saw a man’s face in her window. She screamed, and he ran. The police came, her boyfriend came (with a baseball bat!) and now she’s looking for a new place to live.

This type of violation is particularly alarming for those of us who live in homes, which can be more isolated (and poorly lit) than apartment complexes. As I processed this terrifying incident, I started thinking of ways I could apply the “bad victim” mentality to prevent not only peeping toms, but also criminals who are approaching your house for any reason – whether you’re at home or not.

As a speaker, I’ve told thousands of women and students about high-impact door and window alarms that will stop perpetrators in their tracks, or, at the very least, let you know something is wrong. These inexpensive devices (which can be purchased at either rest just under your door or along the frame of your window and sound piercing sirens when the door or window is opened.

But one thing that I never thought of until I pictured a man standing silently outside my window was a motion sensor light. Many of you may already have these in your driveways, or on your front porches. But installing motion sensor lights around the perimeter of your house, particularly aimed at sensitive areas like bedroom windows, is a great way to kick your bad-victimness up a notch. The lights are inexpensive and easy to install: they can be run along the roof of your house with extension cords or mounted onto existing light fixtures.

Now let’s get back in the head of that sleaze ball. He’s (or she’s) walking up to your window (or your door, or whatever), and as he approaches, a high-wattage flood of light exposes him in the act. Two things are happening. Number one, our peeping tom has suddenly lost his cover of darkness. You’ve become an extremely bad victim, and, most likely, he’s bolting. Number two, if you’re home, the light lets you know something’s up. Maybe it’s a big cat, maybe it’s your roommate, maybe it’s a pervert. Whatever the case, you can check things out, and keep yourself safer (and less afraid).

So let’s recap. Bad guys (and girls) are out there. We can reduce our chances of being victimized by taking proactive steps to NOT be easy targets. Along with door and window alarms, motion sensor lights are a great place to start.

So head over the hardware section of your favorite store, and take the first step. You’ll feel safer, and, more importantly, you’ll be safer.

Faith and Foundations

I happened to be home this Super Bowl weekend and watched the game with my dad.  He was cheering for the Colts and I for the Saints.  I don’t necessarily know that much about the Saints, but I do know the city of New Orleans needed a win like no other.

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks reading articles and watching primetime specials about this broken city looking to the Saints to put them together again. I’ve seen the change that occurred in that town on the journey to the Super Bowl and the excitement that was once gone return. Last night I watched the Saints, against all odds, defeat one of the best teams in the league.

It reminded me how unreachable and far away the good seems to be when you are surrounded by the bad- but with hope and a little faith the good always seems to find it’s way back to people when they need it the most. I know we talk a lot about hope around here. It’s a crucial part of our success so you’ll see posts about this again and again I’m sure.

Our next great hope lies in the official formation of a non-profit organization called The Girls Fight Back Foundation. The mission is to end violence toward young women by providing the tools to cultivate a community that offers access to resources, a network of support, and opportunities for activism. Through the Foundation, we will launch GFB Clubs on school/college campuses nationwide to achieve the mission.

We could not be more excited about this and can’t wait to tell you all more about this exciting new venture as we work to develop it. Of all the women that will be helped and the changes that will come, we are hopeful…

LPS takes Manhattan!

I had the amazing opportunity to travel to NYC this past week and present Women Fight Back to a group of fabulous ladies from Lender Processing Systems.  It was a pretty early morning gig, but man, they came in ready to go!  I could feel the energy as soon as we started and it didn’t let up.  I mean, just look at this fierceness! 

I can tell you right now that Lender Processing Services is a cool company because not only did they host this training, but they also purchased pepper foam for all of the attendees!  Pretty sweet, huh?

Lots of thanks go to Sarah at LPS for putting this event together and for being my scary bad guy.  I can honestly say I’ve never had an SBG that was quite so sweet.