Takin’ Care of Business at Neosho CC

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

Stephen F. Austin FIGHTS BACK!


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.

IMG_4408 (2)

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

Safety Tip For Your Hotel Stay

One thing the GFB Speaker Team does a lot of is travel. Sometimes we live in hotel rooms while we are plane-hopping from campus to campus. One thing you want to do when you travel is make sure you safeguard your hotel room number. This might sound like an oh-so-obvious safety tip but you would be amazed how many times the well-meaning front desk agent at a hotel has announced my room number in a crowded lobby. My recommendation is if the front desk agent starts to tell you your room number in front of other guests, just nicely ask if they would just write the room number down on that fancy key card holder they give you.

Another thing you want to do is make sure, if you are traveling with someone else, that they do not announce your room number to a lobby full of people. This happened to me very recently and, while I don’t want to name any names, mom I’m looking at you. 🙂 The bottom line is strangers should not know where you sleep, even it is on a very temporary basis and you think everyone around you looks normal. Stay safe in your travels!

FREE Girls Fight Back! Program in NC

Hope anyone close to the Piedmont Triad Area of North Carolina will join me for the fun, free event!  At 11am on Saturday, June 12th, I’ll be presenting a free Girls Fight Back! seminar at Advanced World Martial Arts Systems in Kernersville.  The program is appropriate for ages 13 and up and will last about 90 minutes with plenty of time after to answer any questions you may have.  I’ll be talking about ways to avoid becoming the target of a violent crime by trusting your intuition and behaving like a bad victim and I’ll finish up with some simple fight techniques that you can use if you ever find yourself confronted by an attacker.  The program is presented with tons of humor and you’ll leave feeling like a stronger, more empowered person.  Pete Andrews of AWMAS has graciously agreed to let me use his studio for free and while there is no charge for the seminar itself, we will be collecting donations for Heroes Serving Humanity.  For more information about the workshop check out: https://www.awmas1.com/page_latestnews.htm. And call 336-992-5223 to sign-up.  Call ASAP – space is limited.

Peace and Hope.

Last weekend, the Girls Fight Back team reunited in Denver, CO for a weekend of training, strategic planning, and some fun times thrown in for good measure. While we were deep in a brainstorming session, we started talking about what Girls Fight Back, and self-defense in general, was really about. Now, when a person hears “self-defense” and “Girls Fight Back,” the things that may jump immediately to mind are words, such as kicking butt, taking names, etc.

However, as we discussed this weekend, that is not really accurate. At Girls Fight Back, we definitely believe that we all have the right and responsibility to be our own best protectors. We also very firmly believe that everyone is worth fighting for. However, I think that, at their core, Girls Fight Back and self-defense are really about peace and hope. The ultimate goal of a self-defense program is to teach people how to lead a peaceful and safe life, reminding people that the best fight is the fight never fought. It is about valuing yourself, coming from a place of self-respect, and ultimately knowing that you can protect yourself and you are worth it.

During the weekend, I watched of part Megan’s, one of the GFB Speakers, videotaped seminars. Megan told the story of her childhood babysitter, Lisa who was killed by husband. For me, what really stood out about this story were Lisa’s parents. Losing a child must be the most devastating experience but Lisa’s parents turned tragedy into hope for people in Lisa’s situation. They founded Lisa’s House, a safe haven for women in abusive relationships. Stories like this make me realize that, while we cannot always stop tragedy, we can and should always hope and strive for a better, more peaceful future. We can turn tragedy into hope and inspire others to take action.

Strong. Resilient. Spirited. Unified.

Bad Victim Advice for Teens

Here are Fight Back Productions, one of our primary goals is to encourage an open dialogue about safety, an issue that is too often swept under the rug as unnecessary (denial) or sensationalized to the point of being more harmful than helpful (intimidation). To that end, we welcome questions through our Web site, girlsfightback.com, and make every effort to answer each question in a public forum such as this blog so that as many people as possible can benefit from the information. We’ve all heard it before, but chances are, if you have a question, someone else has the same question and would love to hear the answer.

Recently, we received a question through girlsfightback.com from a mother who is concerned that her teenage daughter thinks she is invincible and does not take safety and violence prevention seriously enough (walking down dark streets alone at night without a second thought, etc.). How could this mother help her daughter understand why avoiding unnecessary risk is so important, she wanted to know?

One of the most important aspects of living a safe life is simply being what we call a “bad victim.” This means making yourself a harder target for criminals of violent or malicious intent. Put yourself, for a moment, in the mindset of a “scary bad guy” (who, incidentally, doesn’t have to be a GUY at all, but could be a dangerous character of any gender, race, age, social status, etc.). If you’re headed out with the intent to, say, steal a woman’s purse, everyone you encounter as you seek your target is part of your “victim pool.” In this victim pool, you, as a scary bad guy, have two choices: “good victims” (easy targets) and “bad victims” (hard targets). Who do you think the bad guy is going to look for? Of course! The good victims, or easy targets.

If we start to think about what kinds of behaviors characterize easy targets and avoid those behaviors, we can avoid much of the risk that’s associated with violence. For example, an easy target might be alone in an isolated place (as the author of our email described her daughter). Easy targets might be distracted by their cell phones, iPods, lost car keys. They might be dowtrodden, shuffling, looking insecure or vulnerable.

As we start to recognize these key good victim characteristics, we realize how easy (and how important!) it is to make simple choices that cast us as a bad victim: we can avoid being out alone at night in isolated areas, put our phone calls and music on hold to pay attention to what’s going on as we walk around and walk tall and make eye contact with people we pass, choosing to be aware of our surroundings.

If we make these small changes in the way we interact with the world, we instantly become a “bad victim,” and greatly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of violence.

Being a “bad victim” can be taught to teens as well. However, it has to be conveyed in a way that is cool, practical and will make them look/feel strong. While there is a lot of fear-based self-defense advice available, most teens tune out when they hear it, because its delivered in a tone they don’t connect with. Our advice for helping teens live safe is to give them a copy of our book or DVD, both of which speak the language of young women today.  Buy here online: https://www.girlsfightback.com/All-Items.

Not just another day on the bus…

We hear about situations all the time, where disturbed people get on to buses and passengers must decide what actions to take to remedy dangerous or uncomfortable situations. Yesterday was one such day.

After a long day of work, I got on my bus to head home. As I stepped off the first bus to transfer to another, a young man in his twenties followed close behind me, lighting a cigarette. As I waited for the light to change to green, I looked over to see him staring at me. He was taller than I, wearing a dress suit and black dress shoes. He held his black jacket in his left hand, loosely away from his body. His white with red pinstripe shirt, hanging out of his pants. He looked like a normal guy coming home from work.  However, there was something not quite right about him, though I couldn’t say exactly what it was.

As we crossed the street he followed close beside me. As he continued to smoke his cigarette, he proceeded to pull a faceless balaclava over his neck as he sat next to me on the bus bench. It was then that I knew for certain that something was off. There were several other people at the bus stop and my false sense of security convinced me to stay seated beside him. I was tired and I resented having to move from the only available space at the stop, in an effort to avoid this guy.

A minute later, my bus pulled up and I got on. As usual, there was only a few seats available so I took the first available seat before others got on. As I sat down, creepy guy sat down beside me. I opened my book in an effort to avoid any communication from him. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed his hand fall to the side of the seat that was shared between us. He slowly inched his way towards my thigh. He then took his other hand and went to pull something our of his pocket. I swiftly moved my hand to a ready position in anticipation of having to fight. When nothing happened, I left doubt to convince me that “I” may just be exaggerating the situation, I walked to the front of the bus to ask the bus driver which direction this bus took. This being my bus, I knew the answer but wanted a polite excuse to leave my seat. As I walked back to another seat directly across from this man, I noticed his hand was not in his pocket as I had first thought. He not pulling out a weapon, but he did indeed pull out something, covering himself with his jacket. I couldn’t believe what was happening on the bus, right in front of me, in front of everyone in broad daylight. I became enraged.

A man who was sitting beside this guy saw what was happening, became embarrassed and walked to the back of the bus. I looked over to a woman across from him and made eye contact with her. It was like I was looking for confirmation of what was happening. She looked back at me and we both knew what the other was thinking. Silence.

Something inside of me snapped and looked over at this man and said “Seriously! Are you kidding me with this?” No response. No one else said a word. I realized in a moment, from the way that he looked at me that he was psychotic. His direct stare and smirk sent a chill up my spine. My instinct told me that no verbal boundary setting would make a difference and that it was best to avoid him completely. As we came to the next stop, a little girl got on the bus with her mother busily attending the another child. As the little girl went to sit beside him, I heard the words come out of my mouth “No!” her mother looking at me, I repeated , “No. Not this bus.” Without question, she and her little girl got off. I walked to the front of the bus, told the bus driver what was happening and got off.

I pulled out my phone, dialed 911 and called the police. I gave them a complete description of this guy, including the bus number on the back of the bus. What happened next, I can’t know for sure.

Some people may experience a situation like this and shake it off as a creepy one. I however, chose to look back at the events and see what I could have done differently, what I did and what I won’t do again.

As people, as women, we tend to make excuses for our first reactions. We need to let our instincts guide us and not allow logic to blind us from potential danger. When I got off my first bus, I saw someone and instinctively knew something was wrong. I was uncomfortable that he sat beside me, but instead of moving I stayed seated. I allowed this man to sit beside me on the bus. I didn’t want to create a scene. Instead of telling him to move his hand, letting him know that he was in my space, I ignored my discomfort and made excuses to move. I looked to others for acknowledgment of something I knew myself.

All of the training in the world is not useful unless it’s practiced, acted upon in the real world. We have to be comfortable using our voices, trusting our instincts and putting them into action. One could argue that I made the right choices, as I really didn’t know this man’s full intent. He could have indeed become physically dangerous. Personally, as  a self-defense instructor, the physical defense aspect is less scary to me than the verbal boundary setting. I think that this is common to many women. It was a situation that was in many ways passive aggressive and a grey area of what should have been said or done. At the end of the day, despite questioning my actions, I made choices that kept me safe. I was able to stay calm and act in ways that didn’t escalate the situation. This allowed me to deal with potential danger and notify those around me of a threat.  I got the woman and girl off the bus, I told the bus driver what was happening and I then got myself to safety and called the police. Perhaps, that’s exactly what I was supposed to do; to be here to tell you about it.