Self-Defense in St. Michaels

1 in 6 women in America will survive an attempted or completed rape. 1 in 87 women in America will take a self-defense class.

Thank you to the women who braved the snow on Saturday to attend the self-defense class at the St. Michaels YMCA! It was a great morning with LeCarlo Beaty from Divas in Defense providing many life saving skills. We went over how to properly punch, kick and get out of holds. Thank you, LeCarlo, for your enthusiasm, professionalism and traveling over two-hours to get to the class!

We had women of all ages in attendance and received great feedback. Thank you,Tracy Cohee, for providing the space for the class and to your awesome staff for staying open in the snow storm! We will be providing another free self-defense class in the upcoming months.

Thanks, Eddie, for being the best “attacker” and photographer on Saturday 🙂

Free Self-Defense Class in St. Michaels

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On December 10th, I will be hosting a free self-defense class at the St. Michaels YMCA from 10am-noon. LeCarlo Beaty will be teaching a course designed for women to learn how to prepare to physically defend themselves from being assaulted. LeCarlo is a personal trainer and has been practing MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing for over 10 years. LeCarlo teaches self-defense classes to individuals privately and through the Divas in Defense programs.

In 2013, I was targeted by a paroled rapist who followed me back to my home while I was running. I was attacked in my home several hours later. I will be sharing the full story of my attack at the class and the role that self-defense played in helping me heal. This class is critical for women who run or take walks by themselves and high school students that will soon be heading out to college. If you are interested in attending the class please feel free to contact me directly at risingstrengthllc@gmail.com or through Facebook.

Rising Strength Farm Flow

Farm Flow

“Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise”

-Maya Angelou

This past fall, I reconnected with my high school soccer teammate Jamie Weymont after ten years of living in different states. Within moments of us spending time together it became clear that Jamie and I share a passion for connecting and empowering women. Before the day was over we had started to contemplate how we could combine our efforts.

On Saturday June 18, 2016 we held the first Rising Strength Women’s retreat, aptly called Rising Strength Farm Flow because of the beautiful farm that it was held on. I’ve been fortunate to have many incredible experiences but this past weekend will stay with me as one of the most powerful days I’ve ever had. The day was supposed to be focused around yoga, meditation and sharing the story behind Rising Strength but it became so much more when we opened the conversation in a group sharing circle. I cannot thank the women who attended enough for joining us and sharing your experiences. It was impossible to leave the day not feeling empowered by the strength and resilience of these women.

Thank you to all of the amazing women who shared their time and hearts with us on Saturday.  Thank you for making the Rising Strength Farm Flow such an unforgettable day.

Thank you to all of the amazing women who shared their time and hearts with us on Saturday. Thank you for making the Rising Strength Farm Flow such an unforgettable day.

Jamie, thank you for organizing a day that was called “magic” by more than one attendee. We are all blessed to know you and call you a friend! Thank you, Shelly for hosting us on your gorgeous farm.

Thank you, Kia for making it to this event!  So grateful for our friendship that has last long after our ETSU soccer days ended!

Thank you, Kia for making it to this event! So grateful for our friendship that has lasted long after our ETSU soccer days ended!

One of the coolest parts of the day was getting to spend time with women I went to high school with at John Carroll.  Thank you so much for coming it was beyond awesome to see you all!

One of the coolest parts of the day was getting to spend time with women I went to high school with at John Carroll. Thank you so much for coming it was beyond awesome to see you all!

1 in 6

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1 in 6. That is the statistic reported by RAINN for the amount of women in America who survive an attempted or completed rape. I never would have believed this statistic until I became it on September 21, 2013. Unfortunately, every time I speak at a school or organize a self-defense class I have women and men share with me their story of abuse and rape. I was so fortunate to be able to get away from my attacker before I was raped or killed, but so many others do not get away.

Please take the time to read a powerful letter from a victim of rape to her attacker…Letter to Rapist

When I read her story, I think of how close I was to enduring the horror of rape and then having to deal with being in a hospital getting photographed and prodded while answering questions from police and having to face my family and friends after knowing that life would never be the same. I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face when investigators told us how lucky I was to be alive. I think of that moment often and it fuels my passion to prevent this from happening to anyone else. While my heart breaks for this victim and what she has endured, I am also so proud of her for detailing her experience and putting it out there for the world to see.

I believe that we live in a country that is better than a 1 in 6 statistic. I will keep sharing my story and working to keep women safe and help survivors heal until we are better than that. Thank you to all the amazing people who are supporting me on this mission.

Upcoming Rising Strength Event

Self-Defense Does Not Put Responsibility on The Victim

boxing

“I believe everyone should get some self defense and safety training from a qualified instructor AND most importantly never be complacent about your personal safety…. it can happen anywhere at anytime so better to be prepared than not!”
– Todd Williams

I recently spoke with Two-Time United States Olympic Distance Runner and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt Todd Williams, who is also the founder of RunSafer, about the importance of taking self-defense classes. Todd explained how self-defense classes improve situational awareness and build confidence. After the attack, I went from being independent and confident to feeling scared to be alone. It was only after I started to train at a MMA studio with a skilled trainer that I started to feel like myself again. The more that I trained the more I could feel my confidence returning and fear slipping away. I wanted other women to have this empowering experience.

Several months after the attack, I started to speak publicly about what happened to me and the role self-defense had in my life. I started organizing workshops and speaking to colleges and teams. An article was written about Rising Strength and picked up by the Associated Press. My trainer and I were ecstatic that our workshops were getting some press and that my story was being heard.

Shortly after the original article was published another article using my story was featured in the Nashville Scene, that countered our approach to keeping women safe through self-defense and argued teaching self-defense puts the responsibility of the rape on the victim if they can’t defend themselves. I am grateful for the continuation of the conversation and different viewpoint, however, I disagree wholeheartedly that self-defense in any way makes victims responsible if they are unable to defend themselves.

To me, self-defense is the equivalent of a seat belt. A seat belt makes no guarantee that you will survive every car accident, it just gives you a better chance. From my experience a chance is sometimes the difference between tragedy and triumph. In no way does self-defense make a victim of rape responsible for rape if they are unable to defend themselves. Additionally, self-defense provides an outlet for victims to gain their confidence back and feel empowered.
Self Defense 3
Last month, I had the opportunity to speak and participate in the Divas in Defense self-defense class held at Fitness Rx in Easton, MD. I shared my story and why I believe taking self-defense classes is so important. The turnout was fantastic and it was wonderful to see women of all ages participating in the class. Thank you to everyone who came out to the event, Fitness RX and LeCarlo! The next Divas in Defense workshop that I will be speaking at will be held on April 23 at Fitness RX at noon. Please message me for any additional information.

Self Defense 2

OCF Run for Jeremy Blevins

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
-Muhammad Ali

Shelley OCF 2

I first connected with Shelley Blevins in the fall of 2014 after we both participated in the Blue Ridge Relay. Two months after the race Shelley sent me a message letting me know that we had much more than running in common. Like me, Shelley is a graduate of East Tennessee State University. Unfortunately, Shelley and I also share the heartbreak of losing a loved one to oral cancer.

Shelley lost her husband, Jeremy, in August of 2013 after an eight month battle with oral cancer. Jeremy was 42, a non-smoker and ran every day. Shelley described Jeremy as “having perfect health” and in the 25 years that they were together he barely ever had a cold. Jeremy’s form of oral cancer was so aggressive that even major surgery and treatment at MD Anderson in Houston, TX could not save or prolong his life. Jeremy and Shelley have two young children who now don’t have their dad because of oral cancer. Oral cancer does not discriminate and often there are no known causes.

Shelley and I at the OCF Run for Jeremy Blevins

Shelley has been an active member of the Oral Cancer Foundation for the past two years. On February 6th, I had the opportunity to walk in the OCF Run for Jeremy Blevins in Fort Mill, SC. Shelley did an amazing job organizing the event and the turn out was great! Thank you, Shelley for all that you do to raise awareness and support the Oral Cancer Foundation.

Oral Cancer Foundation

Thank you, Jess and Beth, for waking up so early and driving 6 hours round trip to attend the event.  You two are the best!!

Thank you, Jess and Beth, for waking up so early and driving 6 hours round trip to attend the event. You two are the best!!

OralID

Photo by: Tony Weeg Hair and Makeup by: Patty Preston

Photo by: Tony Weeg
Hair and Makeup by: Patty Preston

Thank you OralID and the Oral Cancer Foundation for sharing my mom’s story. It’s an honor to be affiliated with both of these organizations and I cannot thank you enough for all that you do for patients, survivors and families affected by oral cancer. I hope that my mom’s story helps others learn how critical early detection and screenings are in saving lives and preserving the quality of those lives.

Oral Cancer Foundation- Giving Tuesday

www.oralcancerfoundation.org/givingtuesday

www.oralcancerfoundation.org/givingtuesday

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, the global day dedicated to giving back. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to donate, support and volunteer for the Oral Cancer Foundation. When my mom was battling oral cancer the founders and members of the foundation provided support and comfort for my mom. I think one of the reasons my mom was able to fight the disease for over nine years was due to the camaraderie she found through the OCF. While oral cancer stole my mom’s voice and ultimately her life, the OCF has allowed her fight and voice to live on with their constant efforts towards eradicating this horrible disease. I cannot thank the members of the OCF, founder Brian Hill and the amazing volunteers and workers enough for all that they do. Thank you to all my sweet friends who support Carol’s Fight and help spread awareness!

Brain Hill

“Be it through helping people behind me in the disease process with their questions on OCF’s online support group, working with researchers (both through direct funding and through my position on a National Cancer Institute immuotherapeutics oversight committee) that are making progress in our understanding of not only the disease but important new ways to interrupt a cancer cell’s ability to evade our own immune system, to working on efforts to reach kids before they adopt tobacco as a lifestyle choice through our rodeo outreach program, to helping convince the CDC to allow on label vaccination of young boys against HPV, a virus that will cause over 600,000 new cancers in the world this year including oral/oropharyngeal cancers, to working with politicians that finally passed a landmark bill to allow the FDA more control over tobacco, I give my time and donations to support OCF.”

– Brian Hill
Oral Cancer Foundation Founder
IV Oral Cancer Survivor

My friends helping spread the message

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Carol's Fight Big Sur

Power of Team- Eckerd College

I recently had the opportunity to speak to the women’s soccer team at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. In addition to telling the story behind Rising Strength the focus of my talk was the power that a team has and the long-lasting impact teammates have on your life that go well beyond the field. It is a friendship with one of my John Carroll School soccer teammates, Ashley Myers, that led to the opportunity to speak with the women’s soccer team at Eckerd College. Ashley was an All-American soccer player in high school and played at Penn State. Today, Ashley coaches youth players in Tampa, Florida at her soccer academy Warrior Soccer Training. Thank you Ash for being so committed to the development of youth soccer players on and off the field and being a great friend.

Eckerd College

It was a huge honor to speak to the women’s soccer team at Eckerd College and meet head coach Danielle Fotopolous. In 1998, I watched Danielle score the game winning goal against the UNC Tarheels to pull off a big upset and win a National Championship. Danielle was a member of the US national team that won the 1999 World Cup and she had the record for most goals and points in the NCAA while playing at the University of Florida. Danielle is an incredible athlete and is certainly a legend in women’s soccer, but to me, one of the most impressive traits about her is her genuine love and concern for her players. Thank you Danielle, the coaching staff and players for being so welcoming and making it a great experience!

Huge thank you to my ETSU Buc teammates, Ashley and Mandie, for hosting me on my trip and coming to hear me speak at Eckerd College.  Your support and friendship mean so much to me.

Huge thank you to my ETSU Buc teammates, Ashley and Mandie, for hosting me on my trip and coming to hear me speak at Eckerd College. Your support and friendship means so much to me.

Two weeks ago I had the chance to spend time with another one of my John Carroll teammates Jamie Weymont. Jamie, Ashley and I were captains on the soccer team our senior year that went undefeated and won a state championship. That season was one of favorite experiences as an athlete. We all moved away after high school and went on to play division 1 soccer out-of-state. Recently, the three of us reconnected and the camaraderie and understanding of each other’s mindsets and goals was palpable. It reminded me of how we were on the field together, it just clicked. Like Ashley, Jamie is giving back and making a difference in people’s lives through teaching and coaching. Jamie still coaches soccer but spends most of her time teaching yoga and meditation. I am so grateful to have both these awesome women in my life and I’m excited for some of the upcoming collaborations I will be working with them on.

Jamie will be teaching a workshop on gratitude and meditation on November 14th. I can’t wait to take part in her class and know it will be an incredible experience. For more information please click the link. Gratitude and Flow

Two Years

Two years ago today, I woke up and went for a run in Johnson City, TN and my life changed forever. I was completely unaware on my run that I was being targeted and followed by a paroled rapist. Later that night, I was attacked in my home by a serial rapist who broke in through a bathroom window and grabbed me while I laid on the couch reading a book.

I am blessed to be here today and that I wasn’t raped that night. I am even more fortunate that through the love and friendship of the people in my life we have been able to turn that horrible night into something that helps others. Thank you to everyone who has supported Rising Strength and encouraged me along the way.

BRR

One week after the attack, I ran a 1/2 marathon in Asheville, NC. While I was running the race I was overcome with feelings of relief and gratitude. I had the same feelings of gratitude and triumph last year when I put together a team to take on the 2014 Blue Ridge Relay to raise awareness for the violence that occurs against women and promote self-defense. We had such a great experience that we decided to do it again!

Last week we took on 208 miles of constant running and some seriously daunting hills to raise awareness for message of Rising Strength. Thank you so much Beth, Teigen, Erik, Ashley, Jamie, Brett, Holly, Melissa and Rett for being on the Rising Strength Blue Ridge Relay team and making it such an incredible experience! Thank you to our sponsors Interstate Container, Evco, Team Kattouf, OralID, Appalachian Federal Community Credit Union, Tri-Cities Nisan and Broyles Florist .

sponsors

In the days leading up to the relay, I had the opportunity to speak to the female athletes at Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN and to a high school class at Happy Valley High School in Elizabethton, TN. I was blown away with how attentive the students were at both schools and the great questions that they had for me. There is so much negativity constantly portrayed in our media about the general apathy and indifference of our generation. It was refreshing to be around young students who prove those negative sentiments false. Thank you to the student athletes at Tusculum College and Happy Valley High School for your attention, kindness and thought provoking questions it was a joy to spend time with you and share my story.

Thank you Jenna Handshoe for setting up the talk at Tusculum College.  Your athletes along with the other team present are wonderful and it was an honor to spend time with them.

Thank you Jenna Handshoe for setting up the talk at Tusculum College. Your athletes along with the other teams that were present are wonderful and it was an honor to spend time with them.

Thank you Adam Copeland for setting up the talk with your students.  I enjoyed speaking with your students and was so impressed with their questions and contributions to the talk.  Your students are very lucky to have a teacher who cares not only about their education but their safety.  Thank you for having me!

Thank you Adam Copeland for setting up the talk with your students. I enjoyed speaking with your students and was so impressed with their questions and contributions to the talk. Your students are very lucky to have a teacher who cares not only about their education but their safety. Thank you for having me!