Episode #16 Transcript - Assault Prevention, Creating Boundaries, and Living Without Limits | Nicole Snell
Kelly: Nicole Snell is an award-winning international speaker trainer and self-defense expert specializing in sexual assault prevention, education, gender-based violence prevention and boundaries. She is the CEO of girls. Fight Back founder of Outdoor Defense and Lead Instructor for both Impact Personal Safety and Impact Global.
Nicole speaks to gender inclusive groups at colleges, high schools, the military, fortune 500 companies, corporations, outdoor groups, and more, both domestically and abroad. She is an N A C P credentialed victim advocate, and a credentialed empowerment self-defense professional. Her programs are evidence-based, trauma-informed, interactive, and inclusive.
Nicole believes that everyone has the right to walk through the world feeling safe, powerful, and confident. Welcome to Thrive [00:01:00] unafraid Nicole,
Nicole: Thank you so much for having me, Kelly. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Kelly: You and I have known each other for quite a few years. I think even before you took over as c e o of Girls Fight Back, correct.
Nicole: I think so. Yes. I think so.
Kelly: We’re right at the same transition time. Can you give our listeners a little background on how Girls Fight Back started?
Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. I would love to. Girls Fight Back was founded in 2001 by a woman named Erin Weed, and it was founded in honor of her friend Shannon McNamara, who was murdered in her off-campus apartment near Eastern Illinois University. And so Erin started Girls Fight Back because she wanted to give women their peace back and she wanted to honor Shannon’s memory and to make sure that she was never forgotten.
Because of how hard Shannon fought, there was enough evidence to prosecute her murderer. And so Erin wanted to give women everywhere [00:02:00] the option of ways that they could fight back, and ways that they could address violence that exists in their life without having to restrict their life or to live in fear.
And so that’s how it started. And it was primarily with colleges that Girls Fight Back would go and present. And then, you know, as the years went by, our programming expanded, we included. Gender inclusive programming to address all college students. And then we expanded beyond college. And now I work with the military.
I work with companies, I work with nonprofits, the healthcare industry, neighborhood watch groups, construction teams, you know, pretty much anyone who has an industry where they want to address boundaries and workplace harassment or violence, or they solo travel or travel for work, and they wanna feel more confident about their ability to manage their safety wherever they go without feeling like they have to stop doing the things they wanna do.
And then because of my love for the outdoors and hiking and backpacking and solo travel and all of those wonderful things, I’ve expanded and I [00:03:00] have programming now to address outdoor safety and personal safety when you’re solo traveling because I want people to live their life without limits. And that’s really what Girls Fight Back.
Is about, is that it’s about empowering people of all gender identities, of all walks of life all over the world, with the skills to address uncomfortable situations and violence and threatening situations. Things that we encounter on a day-to-day basis that might just make us feel a little weird, but to help us have skills and tools to be able to address those things from a place of power so that we can live our life as fully as we want to.
Doug: Can you talk about how you landed there, right? Because you had a, you had a career, a whole lot other career in the entertainment industry, and I guess, can you talk about what, what led you to leave, leave that and, and find your way over to this, to this line of
Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. So I worked in TV production. I was a line producer for about 12 years and produced shows all over the world for, mostly TV and [00:04:00] reality motorsports. Prank shows and , like commercial clip shows. So I loved that work and I loved the people that I worked with. But I had, just over the years, I’d started feeling a pull to do more, like I wanted to do more for women, I wanted to do more for black women.
I wanted to do more to address sexual assault. And so I wasn’t really sure what that would look like. And so I just kept along with my career path. ’cause you know, that’s just what you do. You’re, you’re in that industry and you just keep marching forward. And what ended up happening was I was contacted, By a group I was involved with in college where we did domestic violence prevention workshops and the Department of Navy had found out about the group and wanted them to train at military installations around the world doing their sexual assault prevention and response or sapper training as it’s known.
And I, they asked me if I wanted to come back and be a facilitator and I said, you know, I would love to, but you know, I have a full-time job. I don’t know how involved I can be, but I’ll do what I can. And then as luck would have it, I got laid off. Our whole [00:05:00] department at my company got laid off and we were able to finish the project we were on.
And then once that project concluded was when they started doing their work with the military and I got in with them. And so through that connection I met the owner at the time of Girls Fight Back. So this was. 2014 and I saw what Girl Sweat back was doing and I thought, oh my gosh, this is great.
Wait, they’re teaching self-defense in college. Wait a second, how do I get involved? And I emailed the owner and I asked for a job and about three months later they had an opening. And so I started my training and then I had to graduate from a 20 hour self-defense class through Impact personal. Safety finished that decided I wanted to teach that too, and that just kind of got the ball rolling and I was doing all three things simultaneously for about five years.
And then I decided I really wanted to put more of my heart into girls, fight back and you know, help the owner develop more programming. And then they decided to sell in 2019, the end of 2019, [00:06:00] they decided that they wanted to sell the whole company and I. Thought about it and then I just kind of sent an email and said, Hey, would you ever think of selling it to me?
And she said, yeah, I think that’d be a great idea. And so bought it in 2020 and then Covid and, you know, it was a challenge, but I, I feel like I’m right where I need to be.
Doug: Survived. And, and for those of our, we have a number of leaders who, some who’ve come, listeners who come from a military background, Sapper is what they may have known as sharp training when they were in the military,
Nicole: Well sharp, it’s the sharpest army, and so Sapper is Navy Marine Corps Air Force and Coast Guard. And Coast Guard adds an extra R. It’s sexual assault prevention response, and I forget what the second R is, but there’s two R’s in Sapper for the Coast Guard, but sharpest for Army. But yes, it’s the, it’s the same thing, but they just call it different things in different branches.
Doug: It’s, it’s an interesting question about whether that’s helpful or not, or if it’d be helpful to standardize kind of everything on one, one terminology. Right. you know, as you’re, as you’re going about it, [00:07:00] but it’s a great bit of work that you’re getting to do there.
Nicole: Thank you so much. I love it. My dad’s a retired marine, so I’ve been around, military my entire life, and so to be able to give back to the armed forces in this way and to help create, you know, safer environments and to help change the culture, I. And to, to give people more opportunities to learn skills that they can use in their military life and in their home life and you know, when they retire.
I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity and I’m so privileged.
Kelly: That’s awesome. And you’re right. Why would they not standardize it? The Army just needs to get on board. Come on, army. So Nicole, in talking to you, some of the things you shared were your thoughts around intuition and awareness and really driving home that importance of you are worth fighting for. Can you expand on that?
Nicole: Yes. So I know you and I are very like, we talk very similarly about intuition and awareness. It’s such a key [00:08:00] part of our programs and I think that’s because in a lot of our society, especially for women, we are. There’s a negative connotation with intuition, and sometimes we’re shamed for using it, or we’re made to feel like, oh, we’re just being paranoid, or, oh, we’re being hypervigilant, or we’re making things up.
And intuition is a key part of our safety and a key part of managing our safety. And I know you and I both rave about the gift of fear, so I’m gonna plug that again here. The book by Gavin Becker, where he talks about intuition. So, It’s just an important piece for us to be able to trust ourselves and society constantly tries to get, to not trust ourselves and to put our trust into other things or to, you know, rationalize something that sometimes can’t be rationalized.
Like that feeling can’t always be rationalized. I. And that’s okay. And it’s okay to trust yourself. Like we are the experts of our own personal safety. We have been through our own unique experiences throughout our lives, [00:09:00] and that colors how our intuition sends us messages. And there’s nobody more equipped than us to tell ourselves if something’s feeling a little sketchy.
And that rolls into what I’m teaching about that you are worth fighting for. And one of the main, I would say, misconceptions about self-defense education is that it’s. All physical, that fighting back means actually physically fighting back in an altercation that has escalated to that point. But fighting back is more than physical.
Fighting back is trusting your intuition. Fighting back is advocating for yourself and your relationships with your doctor, and with, with work, with your colleagues, with your family, fighting back means trusting your intuition and using your situational awareness. To make decisions that work for you.
Fighting back means being able to go and do the things you wanna do. Even though society tries to give us a list of don’ts of don’t go by yourself and don’t wear that, and don’t drive here, and maybe you shouldn’t do that by yourself as a woman and make sure you know all these don’ts and fighting back is saying, no, I don’t have to listen to these things that are [00:10:00] trying to restrict my life.
And instead I can take control of what I can control in my life and learn these skills and strategies that can help me. To be more confident and comfortable and have more self-efficacy and more agency to go out into the world and to be able to address situations that I may encounter.
Doug: So it’s almost counter-cultural what you’re teaching because the message that particularly many of the female students you have received over the last few years is not to, to do that. Right. And to them, how do you, how do you help them when they show up for your class? Loaded with self-doubt about trusting their intuition.
Nicole: I give them information. So I, I replace fear with education and information, and I wouldn’t even say replace fear, because fear has a place for our safety. Right? Fear lets us know there’s a problem. We don’t wanna get rid of fear. We wanna, instead of walking through fear every, you know, Every moment of the day.
We wanna instead be able to trust the fear when we feel it, and then be able to use that to help us make a [00:11:00] decision and problem solve about what we can do. So when I can give people education and information to help them rewrite what they may have been told, and to help them be able to put that trust back into themselves, that’s how I help.
People break through that, and I have people tell me every time after class or after a seminar or a session. Wow. I never thought about it like that, or Wow. I didn’t realize like how much I don’t trust myself and how much I can, and it’s that empowerment that has an effect, like across the board.
Kelly: And I like to touch on the fact, because this came up in a conversation I was having with. My friend a couple weeks ago, she assed that because of the work I do, and she had met another one of my friends who’s a self-defense instructor. She assed we don’t have fear, like somehow we have moved past and we walked through our days without any fear whatsoever.
And I said, no, not, that’s not the case at all. To your point, you said earlier, fear is a tool that true fear signal. As Gavin [00:12:00] Becker states in his book, Gift of Fear, that’s so important to understand and listen to and not shut down. It’s important to learn how to hear your intuition sending you that true fear signal.
And one thing you also touched on why you don’t offer safety tips
Nicole: Yes, exactly.
Kelly: because. Saying specifics, giving prescriptions on what to do. If you see X, then do Y doesn’t always work. If you wanna expand on Y, you say that why you don’t offer those safety tips.
Nicole: Yeah, so I, I know the, the term safety tip is very, is used very colloquially for a lot of things, and I get it. And I do not want to, I don’t want this to come across as if I’m shaming anybody for using that terminology. I just wanna say for me, in the work I do, I don’t use that terminology. I don’t ever say myself that I’m giving safety tips because like you said, it’s.
A safety [00:13:00] tip implies that when X happens, you do Y, but that’s not how the world works. That’s not how safety works. That’s not how our experiences work. Self-defense scenarios are often very complex. Relationships themselves are dynamic and it’s not. It’s very, it’s overly simplistic to say, Hey, if this happens, you do this.
So instead, what I like to offer is I like to offer. What I call strategies or basic skills such as intuition, so you’ll never hear me say in a class. All right? So if you, you know, if, like for instance, if you are being followed, tip number one is to do this. It is okay if you feel like you’re being followed.
Okay, well, what are some things you can do? Are you nearby? Like it, it’s about, Seeing like the full picture and offering the range of options that exist in that moment, and then giving people that permission to do what feels right for them. That is how we break down the idea that, oh, if you didn’t do this, then you did it wrong.
Or, oh, you should have done it this way. There is no shoulds. [00:14:00] Self defense. It’s all about what can you do? What options are available, what do you feel safe doing in this moment? And every situation, every person is different. So instead of giving a prescription, it’s more of a, Hey, here’s, here’s some tools for your toolbox, so to speak.
And then you get to pick and choose what works for you based on what you’re experiencing.
Doug: Tools are better than tips, right?
Nicole: I for, for what I do, yes. I feel like tools are better than tips.
Doug: yeah. A tool can be used in a variety of situations, right? And, and so learning how to use the tool allows you to apply it when you face all those different data sets, right? And the tip may not have that same utility. It may be too narrowly focused.
And so I think that’s really the why behind that. That’s great.
Nicole: Yeah, thank you. I can’t see Kelly anymore.
Doug: Nor can I.
Kelly: I can see you guys and hear you guys. Can you hear me?
Doug: We can hear you, so let’s just keep going.
Kelly: Yeah. And[00:15:00]
Doug: it, it’ll
Kelly: the video doesn’t work, Madeline will, it’ll Yeah, it’ll be Doug and Nicole,
Doug: We’ll just put up, we’ll find, we’ll find a flattering photo of Kelly to just stick up there.
Kelly: I don’t trust you. When you say flattering photo, Doug, I feel like that’s
Doug: You should. You should not. You should not.
Kelly: Okay. So.
Doug: Sorry, Nicole.
Nicole: It’s okay.
Kelly: Yeah, we’ll go right into that reel now. So Nicole, I wanna talk about the IG reel, Instagram, excuse me, for using that IG reel thing you shared about being kind while enforcing a boundary in a situation a lot of people encounter.
So we’re gonna, let’s listen to the audio now and then we’ll come back and discuss it. I’m so glad that you shared this experience. Because it’s one I feel a lot of people have fear around somebody’s walking towards them on the street when they’re going about their business and getting in their path, [00:16:00] and instantly that turns to worst case scenario thinking. And instead you shared how you responded in a calm kind.
You still had kindness for the gentleman and yet enforced your boundary, the things that you did. Especially that whole standing in your awareness, awareness stance. So can you expand on that?
Nicole: Yeah, I’d love to. I think that that is one of the things that people are most afraid of is that when they experience something that it’s gonna go to a worst case scenario right away. And that’s often not how violence presents itself in our life sometimes. Yes, I. But oftentimes there’s, there are what Gavin calls in his book, pre-contact indicators, things that we can see that might lead up to a certain action.
But there’s time in between that to maybe do something that can help address the problem, get to safety, or help minimize the risk in that moment. Right? So what happened is I was walking down the street and if I’m, if I told you all the [00:17:00] incidents. That I had walking down the street in my neighborhood. I could write a whole book on it, I swear.
, but I just, I, I do a lot of walking in my neighborhood and so I was walking to the mailbox and this man was sitting on a, like a bus stop bench, and he sees me approaching and I’m quite a bit away, but he sees me approaching and he stands up and he kind of walks right in the middle of my path. And there’s cars on one side and then on the other side, there’s really not anywhere for me to go.
I can’t describe where exactly I was. I could show you a picture but can’t really describe it. It was like this one section of Santa Monica where like, anyways, there wasn’t really anywhere for me to go, other than if, you know, I could have turned around and completely walked away. That was an option.
But I just, you know, I saw him walk in my path and I thought, okay, well what’s happening? What’s going on? Okay, there’s a man who’s not threatening, not acting aggressive, not yelling, and he’s walked into my path. Okay, what can I do? Well, I’m just gonna ask him what’s going on. So I stopped a, a, a little bit away from him.
So there was some distance, which is a way to also keep yourself safe is [00:18:00] by keeping a distance between you and someone who you’re not too sure about, or who your intuition has sparked, at their approach. And so I just very calmly just said, Hey, you know what’s going on? Can I help you with something?
And then he went on and kind of explained his situation. He said, you know, I’m, I’m homeless and I’m wanting to know if there’s anything you can do to help me. And you know, I don’t carry anything money with me when I am walking around. So I just, you know, I treated him with empathy and just said, Hey, you know, I’m really sorry for what you’re going through.
I can’t help you. But we’re right in the middle of West Hollywood and I know that there’s. The city hall is just down the street. We’re only a few blocks away, and I know West Hollywood has a very robust outreach for our unhoused community and just gave him an access point, you know, instead of just shutting him down.
I just tried to show empathy and humanity to this man, and he even said to me in the encounter, after we were done kind of talking, he said, you know, I’m really, I, I’m so thankful that you just treated me like a human, that you didn’t just run and scream [00:19:00] at me and run away. Like you actually just talked to me and then he moved outta my path because he wasn’t moving into my path to threaten me.
He was moving into my path to get my attention. Right. Because very often people who are unhoused, they are often ignored by society, are seen to be invisible when they’re, they’re still han beings too, and they’re deserving of empathy and care. And so that was his purpose, right? Not, not a threatening purpose, but I wouldn’t have known that if I would’ve just.
Asse that that was what the intention was. So part of safety education and personal safety education is to allow us to manage situations as they happen and not make assumptions about someone’s intention or make assumptions about if someone does this, it always means that, because that’s, again, that’s not always true and gives us the autonomy.
To make decisions in our daily lives, so we’re not always walking around in that constant state of fear of ‘I have to treat everybody as if they mean me harm’, because not everybody does.
Doug: How, how did you go about your [00:20:00] assessment process of determining whether he was a, you know, what, what his goal was, right? Because you’re having to take in a lot of information in that situation and you know, you, you chose a path. I think based on cues that you read off of him,
Nicole: Yeah, I did.
Doug: And trusted your intuition.
Nicole: Yes. So when I saw him stand in my path and then I walked a little closer and I stopped, he stopped. So he didn’t further approach me like he respected the distance. And then when I talked to him and asked him what was going on, he spoke in a very calm voice. And explained what he needed, and then when I explained what I, you know, what I could do and, and made the offer back, he didn’t escalate his voice.
He didn’t act in any kind of aggressive way. His body language was very neutral. So I was reading off all of those cues and always in the back of my mind, I know, okay, I can just turn around and run if I have to. I could always just turn and run if there’s, you know, a, a problem or if he, you know, rushes at me like I have [00:21:00] the skills to address that.
But I didn’t feel like any of those were gonna be necessary in this moment.
Doug: You’re at intersections on a decision tree, right? And, and as each new data point comes in, it gives you a little bit more information to go left or go right in your decision tree and, and you’re just constantly taking that in, actively assessing, you know, your decision and the options before
Nicole: Yes, absolutely.
Doug: And, and chose to do so with great empathy and respect for him as a human.
Nicole: Yes. Thank you. And it’s like you never know that that’s gonna be the outcome.
Kelly: But I love that you. Not only talk about these things, you live these things and then you share your experiences because we so often don’t hear about the, and then nothing happened. Like here was all of the things. Here’s how I reacted to those nonverbals that I observed. You know, context [00:22:00] to the situation I’m experiencing and here’s what happened.
’cause so often if nothing happens, we don’t talk about it. That’s not the stories we share. So I think it’s so important when stories like that get shared that we bring them to the forefront of the conversation so women and men can continue learning. I. Oh, okay. So they’re not always hearing the worst case scenario or the, you know, this bad thing happened, so here’s what you need to not do or do to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.
And then another situation you brought up that I believe women often face is a behavior that makes ’em uncomfortable. But the behavior happens in passing or just happens really quickly. So women don’t know if they should go back and address it or just ignore it and hope it doesn’t happen again. So here is the audio from that Instagram reel you shared about how you handled the parking, attendance, disrespectful behavior at your gym. [00:23:00] Okay, so that’s the break and then, In my opinion,
Doug: So you know, your video.
Kelly: of showing how to be direct is not being rude, even if it’s a day later, like you say in the video, he wasn’t there when he left, but he was there the next day and the way you addressed it without emotion, you didn’t come at him and be like, Hey, jerk face.
I don’t appreciate that. You handled it in a very direct and polite, but this is not okay with me. That was not respectful. And again, I love that you show that. So I don’t know if you’ve had other similar experiences or if you have any other thoughts you wanna add to that instance.
Nicole: Yeah, I will say that, so the, the backstory that I kind of allude to in that video is I had seen that parking attendant probably every time I went to the gym. So several times a week for months. And every time I came in I was always like, hi, how are you? Like just. Small [00:24:00] talk, but I like, I know how hard the job of a parking attendant is.
People are always angry if they don’t get their ticket punched and they have to pay. Right? They endure a lot of stress dealing with customers all the time. So whenever I came in, I was always just trying to be pleasant and nice and, hi, how’s your day? And address him again showing empathy and humanity to people that you encounter.
And so this day that I came into the gym and I did the same thing, I always did, hi, how are you doing? And then he did the, you know, kissy face to me. I was shocked. I was literally shook that, wait a second. Why did he do like, it felt like a violation of trust. Like we had an established, you know, relationship of, you know, this is a customer who comes in and they are, they’re pleasant to me.
I’m pleasant to them. And they drive and they go along their way and all of a sudden he decided to basically sexually harass me. Right? ’cause that’s what that is. And in that, and, and I’m the, the way the parking. Ramp is right. There’s cars behind me and the gate goes up. So there’s not time for me to stop and like [00:25:00] address it in the moment because I have to like move through the ramp and then pull in.
But I was just thinking like, why did he do that? Why did he think that was okay? Did I, you know, then I started second guessing myself. Did I lead him on in some way? But I really don’t think just saying, hi, how are you each day could possibly lead somebody on. And so I decided after working out and like being so frustrated and.
Angry the more I thought about it, I said, no, I’m gonna tell him when I leave that that wasn’t okay. And I was like, you know what? I should film this. So I had the mount on my car and I just like, okay, well I’m gonna film it. And then, you know, of course I left and he wasn’t there. And then the next day I addressed it and he was not sitting on the, the left side by the, by the little where you pull the ticket.
He was on the right side, which is why I had to talk to him across. The passenger’s door, but there was nobody behind me. And I thought, this is the great, this is the perfect time. And when I first addressed him, he laughed. He was like, ha, ha ha. And you hear me in the video say, wait, it’s not funny because he thought it was a joke or he thought I was joking.
I’m not sure what [00:26:00] it was, but I wanted to make it very clear that I was, I was being serious. I needed that behavior to stop. And if he wasn’t aware of it, I’m making him aware of it. And
Doug: Remember it?
Nicole: What’s that?
Doug: Do you think he remembered? Like, was he, did he know what had
Nicole: Oh, yeah, as soon as I described it, he goes, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I’m sorry. And I was like, okay. Like I, I, I get that you’re saying you’re sorry, but I just want you to know like I’m treating you with respect. I expect the same in return. And, and you know, he just kept apologizing.
I’m like, no. Okay. And you’ll notice in the video, I don’t say sorry. At all. ’cause I’m not sorry. There’s nothing for me to be sorry about. I didn’t do anything wrong. My setting a boundary is not doing anything wrong. I don’t have to minimize my boundary to make it easier for somebody else to hear and make myself small.
I can say what I need and that’s what we did.
Kelly: Well, I love, I wanted to point out this parking lot. [00:27:00] Attendant issue because I think that happens fairly often. You brought it up beautifully in that story. You second guessed, was there something I had done to let him lead him on? So often being kind, saying hi, having conversation, and then the other person takes it to the next level and it’s, you’re not comfortable, that’s.
Not where you were intending, you were being a nice person, having small talk or being friendly and waving, and then they take it to the next level and suddenly kind of going back to when we started recording the conversation where society looks to women and says, well, what did you do to lead ’em on?
What were you wearing? Where were you at? You know, how late were you out? How many drinks had you had? Instead of saying, no, that’s not appropriate behavior. That is disrespectful. And I wanna let you know that I thought that was disrespectful, and please don’t do it again.
Nicole: Yeah, and I think too, the. [00:28:00] Like if he thought I meant something else, that’s on him. Right? That’s not my responsibility. I don’t need to stop being a nice person. I don’t have to walk around with a mean face all the time to make sure nobody gets the wrong opinion about me. That’s not who I am. Like I am a very, like, I, I love life.
I love being outside. I smile at people. I go to New York, people think I am weird because I will smile and make eye contact with people and they’re like, who is this weird person? Right. You know? But like, don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. I’m a very kind and nice and. And that’s who I am, and that’s the energy that I have.
But I am very, will very quickly go into self-defense mode, you know, and address things that need to be addressed in the moment as necessary. But the impetus of, oh, well, we have to just be mean and, and, and hard all the time. So that there’s no miscommunication, no, that’s not our responsibility.
But if someone is going to cross that line and cross our boundary, then us being empowered to speak up and say what we want, not [00:29:00] only lets the other person know how to interact with us so that if future interactions can be respectful. It also can help other people because maybe that person’s doing the same thing to other people and they just assume it’s okay, or the other people aren’t comfortable saying something.
And by us addressing it now we’ve given that person pause and as something to think about when it comes to that. Another thing that it does by us setting boundaries is how that person responds to our boundary, gives us information about them. So if I set a boundary with somebody and they. Go off the rails.
They get really angry. They start calling me names, all these things. Well, that person is showing me who they are. The first thing it does is it shows me that I was really justified in setting a boundary with this person. My intuition was correct. If this person is gonna go to that extreme, by me simply expressing what I need, and then it gives me information to decide whether I wanna keep this person in my life.
If it’s someone I know, if it’s a family member, it might be a longer conversation, or if it’s, you know, if it’s somebody else, it just, Allows us [00:30:00] to make more decisions like Doug, like you were saying, the, the decision tree. Right? The interaction tree. Each reaction we get from people and the interactions we have gives us more information, and that helps us move to what decision we can make next.
Doug: And I, I think even the point that Kelly started with on this was that moment of self-reflection to ask yourself. Right. That’s, that’s, I would equate that less to self-doubt and more towards ownership. Right. And you’re trying to own, and as you talked earlier about the need to control the controllables, I.
And so I think it’s, it’s always healthy to take that moment to, to ask yourself that thing while not allowing yourself to cross over into the self-doubt or the woulda, should’a, coulda and just say, look, what, what is my piece that I own of this? Okay, nothing cool. Then I can move on into this, into how I respond to this individual.
Whether if you do own something in it, then that also gives you another data point in how you gauge your response along the way as well. So I think that’s a really… anybody that doesn’t have that ability to self-reflect, I think [00:31:00] is gonna be hamstrung a little bit in dealing with any of these situations as they go out there.
Kelly: I feel like that’s a Doug-ism. I think that was just a Doug-ism. I gotta mark this and make sure that…
Doug: I don’t know about that,
Kelly: We pull this one out and, and write that down as a Doug.
Doug: But I really do love what you’ve talked about though, about controlling the controllables, right? And because there are things that are beyond your control. Other than your reaction to those things. And then there are things that are within your control that you can work on and adjust or modify or improve.
And so it’s it that knowing self right helps you develop ownership over those pieces as you, as you interact with the rest of the world out there.
Nicole: Yeah. And to add onto that, and to go back to what Kelly had said about the being self-reflective, I think that, there’s another piece to that and it allows us to check in with ourselves. I. And to then trust how we’re feeling. So we self-reflect and say, how did I feel about that? Well, I [00:32:00] honestly really didn’t like that.
But sometimes we then, Add justifications to that? Well, I didn’t, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. And when we start, like picking it apart as to why, maybe, you know, we don’t wanna say anything about it, but if we really just sit with the, okay, how do I feel about what just happened? And be honest with ourselves about it and if, and if we feel uncomfortable, we feel like it was disrespectful, we feel like it was unnecessary.
We feel like in, in any way where we’re like, you know, this wasn’t okay with me. Then to have the, have the options available to then address that. So that we don’t have to feel that way in the future. I think being able to trust ourselves is very important.
Doug: So you guys have a bunch of offerings at Girls Fight Back, right? And, and so one of the things I would think of, you know, as you, as our listeners who this is their first exposure to you, what do you tell them to start, right? This may be their first time listening to something that’s changing their ability to think about ownership of their.
Personal safety and security. [00:33:00] , what do you tell that person to start that’s just new to this?
Nicole: Oh, the first thing that I would say is just remember that you are worth fighting for. Like, you are valuable. You deserve to walk through the world feeling safe, feeling powerful, feeling confident. You don’t deserve to experience violence. You don’t deserve to have to deal with harassment or racism or sexism or anything else that is, you know, that, that, that affects your quality of life and is harmful to you, to your mental health, to your physical health, like you don’t deserve that. And you are worthy of being able to speak up for yourself to say what you need and to pursue a life where you can do the things that you wanna do without being restricted and feeling safe and comfortable being able to do that.
And I think from that framework, everything else builds.
Kelly: I love it. If I could give you a standing ovation. I feel like yes. Say it again. Louder for the people in the back, Nicole. That’s [00:34:00] this. Is exactly why Doug and I wanted to do this podcast is we wanted to have the real conversations so that people could thrive, unafraid, and live their life. Doing the things they love.
And one of the things that you love is being outdoors and hiking. And I just recently saw one of your posts about showering when you’re camping, like backpacking for multiple days, how do you shower outside as a solo camper? And that to me was, oh my gosh, I’ve never thought of that because I always thought, I’ll jump in the river, I’ll jump in the lake.
That’s not always the option. So I think it’s really cool that you decided to expand. Talk about outdoor safety as a solo hiker. ’cause so many women love getting out in nature, love hiking, and have so many fears around doing it safely. So I’d love if you could talk a little bit about your passion for [00:35:00] that and then make sure, make sure to mention that virtual class that you have coming up.
’cause this podcast, you know, is releasing mid August in your class. Is August 30th, so those listening to this podcast as it drops, you can register and get great advice from Nicole in a couple weeks.
Nicole: Yes, thank you for, thank you for sharing that and I’ll, I’ll share all the information for that as well. Yeah, so I’ve been an outdoors person my whole life. I grew up in the desert. Like I said, my dad’s a retired Marine, so I grew up in a small desert town called 29 Palms, and I was right near Joshua Tree National Park.
And so being outside was just a part of my childhood. During summers, occasionally we would go visit my aunt and she lived in the Eastern Sierras. On the west side of the eastern, well, I guess the Western Sierras then, but we, we would go visit her and, you know, she had dogs and, you know, space and there was trees and I just was so passionate about just [00:36:00] connecting with nature.
So when I became an adult and could travel to more places and, you know, acquire more skill and go on more difficult hikes. And it’s just something I so love and I’ve mostly always done it solo because I’ve never wanted to let anyone else. Schedule or anyone else’s, you know? Oh, I don’t wanna do that.
Okay. Well, since they’re the only person I could go with and they don’t wanna do it, that means I can’t do that. And I was just never subscribed to that. So if you don’t wanna do it, great. I’m gonna go do it by myself. Wait, you can’t go, great. I can’t. I’m gonna go. You’re not available that weekend. I am.
Okay, great. I’ll see you next time. Right? Like, I’m just
Kelly: You can be jealous. You can have fomo. When you see my pictures of my awesome height later.
Nicole: Exactly. Like, I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna go anyways. And there were so many times that I had people tell me, oh, it’s not safe for women. Oh, you shouldn’t do that. Or You’re just asking for trouble. You’re looking for trouble, blah. And I just would say no. Like we don’t say this to men. Men go hiking solo and camping, backpacking, solo and exploring all the time.
And nobody says anything about that other than, wow, that’s great. What an explorer you [00:37:00] are and how brave And, but women do an, oh, well, it’s dangerous. Women are not inherently weak. Regardless of what society may say, we are not inherently incapable of protecting ourselves. We are not incapable of learning the skills that we need to backpack solo safely or hike solo safely or travel like we can learn all the skills we need, and we are strong.
We are stronger than. Society says that we are. And when it comes to physically defending ourselves, it’s not even about strength. It’s about what, what parts of our body are available to use as weapons in that moment and what vulnerable parts on another human that we can strike. So it’s not even about the fact that you have to overpower someone or be physically stronger to be able to physically use your skills if that’s what you choose to do in the moment to escape.
So it was about, un un, that’s not the right word I wanna use. It’s about. Unpacking all of the myths that exist that keep us in fear and replacing it with information. Like one of the hashtags I use is, facts, not fear. Because yeah, let’s, let’s learn the [00:38:00] real, real, like, yes, violence happens. I’m not, I’m not trying to sugarcoat the fact that it does, but I.
I also wanna give us the tools and the skills to know that we can address things that we encounter in our life. And if we encounter a worst case scenario, there’s still things we can do. We’re not helpless. We’re not weak. And so by giving people the, you know, that information and helping them break through those fears, then they can, we can give people more access to the things they wanna do or the new things they wanna try.
And so, I started my outdoor defense series in 2019, after many years of friends saying, you should combine your love of the outdoors and self-defense. And I just thought nobody would care, honestly. I was like, nobody cares. Nobody wants to hear about this. No one’s gonna listen or watch. Like I was just in my self-doubt, like nobody’s gonna wanna hear what I have to say.
And then when I finally started it, I was like, whoa, people actually wanna hear what I have to say. Say about this, this is really hitting a nerve. And because I’m coming from that empowerment perspective and just giving people a range of, of tools that, of, and skills to use and, you know, helping them to go out [00:39:00] and do those things without, you know, trying to scare them first.
It just really has really resonated with a lot of people. And I love that I’ve been able to create programs like the virtual one coming up. To train people in skills that they can use. So it’s August 30th in conjunction with a company, an outdoor group called Backcountry Women. So we’re doing a virtual, yes, I’m hiking solo class on August 30th at 4:30 PM Pacific Time.
And if you go to my Instagram account and click on my link tree, the link is there, or you can go to Backcountry Women and the link is there and it’s open to the public and you can get your ticket and it’ll be a, I believe it’s a 60 minute, class plus, q and a and it’s interactive. And we’re gonna be talking about solo hiking, safety and self-defense and empowerment and animal safety.
And, you know, it’s just, it’s just a way to help people have more access to what they love.
Kelly: And we’ll, and we’ll put the link in everything, in the show notes and on the, in the, Web webpage for this episode. So if you’re listening to [00:40:00] this driving, doing whatever, if you’re multitasking, make sure to go to the Diamond arrow group.com/podcast and go to Nicole’s podcast episode so you can get all of that information to get registered.
Because it is, there are a lot of women, we have a local group called She Ascends. And they’re actually going to Iceland in a couple months and doing a hike as a group of women going out and doing a hike and just. Sharing a little bit about travel safety from one of our previous Thrive Unafraid episodes, one of them said, Hey, I’m, we’re, I’m with the group gonna Iceland and we’re gonna make sure we talk about the travel safety.
And I’m like, great. So I’ll make sure to tag that group in this episode too, because it aligns with their mission. They want women getting out and having confidence going on hikes and doing things like that in nature that they love. So any, as we’re getting close to the end here, any last. Thoughts that you want to make sure we cover in this episode?
You’ve given us so [00:41:00] much good information. Thank you so much to bringing this to our listeners.
Nicole: Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you for inviting me here to speak on this. I did have one, one quick scenario that I wanted to share with you that just happened recently. I shared about it on my stories and I think it’s kind of relevant to this conversation, if that’s okay.
Kelly: Yeah. Yeah.
Nicole: So I, I was walking to the grocery store again, walking in my neighborhood.
I swear I’m gonna put together a compilation book. I was walking to the, walking to the grocery store at like eight because I needed something. And I passed these three men who are just standing on the side, like in front of a car, like all talking. And so I, as I walk past, I look at each of them in the eye just briefly and keep walking.
And one of the guys as I was walking away or. As I make eye contact with him, he goes, yo. And so I said, yo right back to him. ’cause like, what? And then I start walking away and he goes, you have a beautiful body. I turned around and I said, do not make comments about my body. That’s disrespectful. [00:42:00] And he throws his hands up in the air.
He goes, what? I, it’s the truth. I love your body. And I turned around again. I said, do not make comments about my body. I. That is disrespectful. And then I just turned around and kept walking. And so he didn’t say anything else as I was walking. I don’t know what he said to his friends when he left, but like, cat calling is not okay.
And I, it doesn’t matter what I was wearing, but I wasn’t wearing anything. Like, I was wearing overalls and a tank underneath it and flip flops. I mean, just a normal summer outfit. You know, it wouldn’t have mattered if I was in, you know, a miniskirt and a crop top. It doesn’t matter, like nobody. Has the right to make unsolicited comments about your body.
And I get this question a lot when people come into my session, they say, how do I deal with catcalling? What do I do? And that’s one of those things where there is no one tip, there is not one thing that you can do. There’s a range of things you can do. You can ignore it and walk away. Or if you feel safe like I did in this moment, I addressed it by just saying the truth.
[00:43:00] What I wanted and what it was, it’s disrespectful and I don’t want you to do that. And I, you don’t have to say anything else if you don’t want to. I don’t know if that’s gonna change that person’s mind about doing it in the future, but that’s not my responsibility in the moment. But I felt like I took back my power in that moment by not just letting it go because I felt safe enough to say something in that moment, and I just wanted to leave viewers with that.
Like say something if you feel safe and comfortable and you have the right to be able to do that.
Kelly: I know there was, I was in New York City last month doing a training and walking around. I love walking around, even in urban environments and. Walking under the scaffolding next to the buildings. There was some construction workers and I could hear them talking and as I got closer, the guy said, wow, you’re a pretty lady.
And to me, honestly, I was walking so fast, New York style, I just said, thank you, making eye contact and kept walking like however you respond. Do it in a way that’s [00:44:00] comfortable to you. I’m, I felt like if I stopped long, like too much longer to have a conversation, well, that’s, that’s only engaging. Like instead saying, thank you.
He probably wasn’t expecting that and shut it down, and he was like, oh, again, figure out what works for you. I love how you addressed that, Nicole. and, and called it out in removing emotions not being like jerk and telling ’em off and escalating. You simply stated your boundary being direct. So I love that.
Thank you for sharing that, that scenario. Anything else from you, Doug?
Doug: No, ma’am. You got it. I think this is helpful for our listeners For sure.
Kelly: Right. Well, thank you again, Nicole, for taking time to join us and well, we can’t wait to continue. Make sure you follow her listeners. You can follow her on Instagram, on Adventures of Nick and. N I K, adventures of N I K and Girls Fight Back, and [00:45:00] then you have websites and on Facebook and Twitter and her Nicole Snell Outdoor Defense YouTube channel, just.
Search YouTube for Nicole Snell. It pops right up, I promise, and we all will have all the links posted on show notes on the episode webpage. So until next time, listeners thank you for your continued support. Make sure to like, subscribe, leave a review, and thrive unafraid and stay sharp.