All posts in April 2010

“You’ll have to kill me”

I read this article yesterday about John Gardner, who murdered Chelsea King and Amber Dubois. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot I hear about this case that surprises me. He was a predator. A repeat sex offender who had attempted to take the lives of other young women as well. After years of hearing all the horrible things people do to each other, I think I finally understand that in order to be effective in making things better I can’t let all that bad have so much power over me. So I am choosing to find some good in the bad.

There were two key points that struck me in this article. The first was about the woman who got away. She told authorities she was on a hiking trail and a man walked past her. She said hello, as did he. He then tackled her to the ground. She began screaming and kicking and when he told her to “shut up” her response was “you’ll have to kill me”. She continued to struggle and was able to sit up and strike him in the nose with her elbow. He was injured and she was able to get away.

I’m not in any way intending to say the other victims did anything wrong, but for this particular woman who did fight back and did get away – it shows me that self defense can and does work.

The second point was with another young girl Gardner was likely intending to harm. The girl told police that Gardner’s vehicle drove past her and then parked about 30 feet in front of her. Gardner stayed in the vehicle and did not attempt to speak to her. Then a woman pulled up next to the girl and told her the person in the vehicle “seemed very suspicious” and offered to follow her home.  She watched over her for the remaining two blocks.

That’s a wonderful testament to the goodness in people and why it’s so important to make it your business! I’m very hopeful about all of the people we can empower to fight back and to be good bystanders.

Self-Defense Class at Krav Maga Portland

On April 3, I had the opportunity to take a self-defense class taught at Portland Krav Maga with Renee Jenkins. It was a padded attacker class, with krav staff helping with instruction and volunteers from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office as the padded attackers, aka, the guys who are graciously willing to take a beating. 🙂

It was overall an awesome class full of supportive students and instructors and we all learned some valuable lessons in self-defense and how strong we really are. I also really liked that I got to share the experience with my friend Alana, who was awesome enough to come with me. I really love when my friends participate in and support the movement.

Like any class there were pros and cons . . . Here they are!

•Very supportive staff and students. Nobody utilized fear-based tactics and everybody kept it empowering;
•They taught simple and effective techniques that people of any size can utilize successfully;
•Cost effective. The class was only $40 and all proceeds went to the Clackamas County Women’s Shelter;
•Repetition. We got to practice multiple strikes against pads before going at it with the padded attackers.

•The verbal boundary section could have been more organized with instructors running through scenarios with each student;
•The padded suits our awesome volunteer attackers wore were not completely effective. As an illustration, I delivered a knee strike and bloodied someone’s nose . . . Don’t judge me; I was in the moment and it was an attack scenario.  However, after that happened, I wasn’t comfortable utilizing full force.

Overall, it was awesome. You may have noticed I love the word “awesome,” but rest assured, I don’t just give it away and this class definitely earned the distinction. I left feeling empowered and prepared. Big thanks to Renee and Krav Maga Portland for putting on such a stellar event!

Packing Your Bags? Read Here Before You Jet Set…

So it’s that time of year. If they’re not already, exams will soon be only a bad memory. Class – that two or three times-weekly appointment you usually skip – will be a cramp in your schedule no more. It’s time to throw a dart at the map, make a quick stop at and hit the open road (or skies!). Summer vacation, prepare to be executed in style.

But before you throw caution to the wind, it would serve you well to brush up on those travel safety tips you probably heard ad nauseam a couple of months ago, just before spring break. I’m sure you all are safe vacation experts by now, but indulge me in reviewing with you one more time the best ways to not be robbed, abducted or just generally hassled during the course of your summer gallivanting.

1. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: buckle that seat belt!

2. If you’re staying in a hotel, keep the door locked and dead-bolted at all times, and (if you’ve got one) use the safe for your valuables. Better SAFE than sorry? Ha! Get it? OK. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system…

3. Try not to use an ATM alone or after dark, and always be completely aware of the surroundings. If something feels wrong, or someone is creepin’ you out, find another ATM. Or better yet, just borrow cash from one of your buddies!

4. If you drink, do it responsibly. I don’t need to belabor this point. The drunker you are, the more vulnerable you are, so keep it together. If you do get too drunk, make sure you’re with friends who will have your back until you’re safely passed out in your own bed.

5. On that note…stay with your friends when you’re out! You don’t have to be all up in each others’ space, but at least know where your buds are and check in every once in a while. Most bad things happen at clubs when girls get separated from their pack, either by accident or voluntarily. Don’t be the loner.

6. And finally, the mother of all travel safety advice, TRUST YOUR INTUITION! In every situation, at all times, let your intuition guide you. If you get a bad feeling about a bar, a person, a hotel, a cab driver, ANYTHING, go with that feeling. Even if it doesn’t seem logical, it’s there to protect you. Listen.

Alright, if you keep these six rules in your back pocket, you’re bound to have an enjoyable and safe summer vacation. Unless your flight is delayed. And unfortunately, I don’t have any rules to prevent that. But here’s hoping!

I Met a Maverick . . .

Actually, I met a lot of Mavericks. Yesterday, I got to bring Students Fight Back! to the University of Nebraska at Omaha, home of the Mavericks . . . and they are AWESOME! I arrived in Omaha and it was sunny and 70 without a cloud in the sky. In case you are wondering, that is a sure fire sign of a great event to come. While my hotel reminded me a little bit of The Shining (a possibly bad omen), I had a feeling that the Mavericks would be a lively and enthusiastic crowd. As it turns out, my intuition was right on. The organizers and the crowd were so welcoming and engaging and everybody really embraced the palm-knee-knee, even our “Scary Bad Guy,” David. Thanks for being such a great sport!


I Heart PA!

So…it’s no secret that I love Pittsburgh. I may have mentioned that a few times in past blogs. Erin had spoken at Cal U the night before so we met at Schenley Plaza– which is right in the middle of the Pitt campus and Carnegie Museum. I will have you all know that the first words out of her mouth were “Is it possible that I have totally underestimated Pittsburgh!?” Yes. Yes it is… J

I pretty much love PA in general…so I was SUPER excited to speak at Penn State and Juniata!!

After a great Easter weekend with friends and family I headed out to State College on Tuesday afternoon.  Now, I pretty much know everything about this school. I grew up hearing all about “Happy Valley”, the football team and I would say about half the students who went to my high school went here.

The Girls Fight Back program was sponsored by the Center for Women Students and co-sponsored by the school’s Men Against Violence chapter.  Penn State definitely lived up to my expectations. Great campus. Great Students. Special thanks to Susan DelPonte for bringing us…and for working so hard to help make the students on campus safe.

On Wednesday, I made my way over to Juniata College for a Students Fight Back presentation.  I had a few friends who graduated from here as well. When I arrived on campus, I was actually pretty bummed it was not a school I had considered, as the campus was absolutely beautiful. It’s just the kind of school I would have chosen while playing the “ If I’d known then what I know now” game.

The group here was a little smaller, which is great because it allowed for one on one time and I got to hear some great questions and feedback.

Thanks to Kristen and my “scary bad guy” who is a great a computer technician as he is a helpful target. J