Episode 178: Outdoor Defense

Interview with Nicole Snell

Nicole Snell is a self-defense expert, the creator of Outdoor Defense, owner and CEO of Girls Fight Back, a solo adventurer, hike lead with Black Girls Trekkin’, and more.

Nicole’s Outdoor Defense series includes videos about subjects like: tools to address catcalling; the phrase, “I’m sorry”; safety while camping; and asking for help. By putting her two passions together—the outdoors and self defense—Nicole’s uniquely addressing a very real need for all people, but especially cis and trans women, nonbinary people and others that face gender discrimination. Through the stories we tell on She Explores, we’ve heard echoes of this need over the years: mothers passing down fear, people telling us where we should or shouldn’t go, silent warnings against taking on a trail or another new adventure solo. 

And yet, sometimes we bristle against speaking this need out loud. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to admit weakness or fulfill an expectation of what it means to inhabit the bodies we’re in. You’ll hear through our conversation with Nicole that to deny ourselves the tools that self-defense offers is counterproductive. Instead, Nicole sees self defense as empowerment: a means to open up more opportunities and access in the outdoors. 

In this episode, we’ll talk about why self-defense is important, hear some practical tips for outdoor lovers, and learn more about Nicole’s philosophy for developing the tools which will help facilitate a safer world for all.

Find the episode below, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you stream podcasts.

Featured in this episode: Nicole Snell

Hosted & Produced by Gale Straub

A Production of Ravel Media

Sponsored by Subaru & Deuter

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Featured in this Episode

Nicole Snell

Nicole at Machu Picchu
Nicole at Lander University – photo by Jeff Lagrone

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TRANSCRIPT

Note: This transcript was lightly edited and created using a transcription service. As such it may contain spelling errors.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I’m Gale Straub and you’re listening to She Explores.

Nicole Snell:

I didn’t actually start talking about self-defense and the outdoors until 2019. And that’s after I had been teaching self-defense for about six years. At that time, I had been traveling and adventuring my whole life, and I had had friends and family over the course of a couple of years, leading up to 2019 telling me that I should put them together. And I was just always very resistant because I felt like I needed to keep the two separate, like I couldn’t join the passions together. I didn’t think that it would fit. And I had a friend that really kind of pushed me and just told me, you know what? This is, you just need to do it. Like stop thinking about it, stop talking yourself out of it, just do it. And it was that kind of kick in the pants that I needed to push me to actually create outdoor defense. When I put the two together and I saw how it resonated with people, then I knew that that was the right choice.

Gale Straub – Narration:

This is Nicole Snell. She’s a solo adventurer, a hike lead with Black Girls Trekkin’, a self-defense expert and more.

Nicole Snell:

My name’s Nicole Snell. My pronouns are she her and I’m the CEO of Girls Fight Back. I am an international speaker and the self-defense instructor. And I created the series outdoor defense, which came from my passion of hiking and venturing and traveling, and my passion for empowering others with self-defense

Gale Straub – Narration:

Nicole’s outdoor defense series includes videos about subjects like: tools to address catcalling, the phrase, I’m sorry, safety while camping, and asking for help. By putting her two passions together – the outdoors and self defense, Nicole’s uniquely addressing a very real need for all people, but especially cis and trans women, nonbinary people and others that face gender discrimination. Through the stories we tell on She Explores, I’ve heard echoes of this need over the years: mothers passing down fear, people telling us where we should or shouldn’t go, silent warnings against taking on a trail or another new adventure solo. And yet, sometimes we bristle against speaking this need out loud. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to admit weakness or fulfill an expectation of what it means to inhabit the bodies we’re in. I learned through my conversation with Nicole that to deny ourselves the tools that self-defense offer is counterproductive. Instead, Nicole sees self defense as empowerment: a means to open up more opportunities and access in the outdoors. In this episode, we’ll talk about why self-defense is important, hear some practical tips for outdoor lovers, and learn more about Nicole’s philosophy for developing the tools which will help facilitate a safer world for all. All that and more, after this:

 

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Subaru: www.subaru.com/crosstrek

Gale Straub – Narration:

Before we jump in, I want to call out two important elements of this episode. First, a content warning that throughout this conversation, Nicole and I talk about self-defense and the potential for assault. Second, I want to underline that self defense is super personal. How safe you feel in the outdoors, whether it’s at the trailhead, in a crowded campsite, or alone in the backcountry, depends on a million different interacting factors. For example, how safe I feel in my mid-30’s is different than how I felt at 22. For me, it’s not so much about age as it is about having more experiences under my belt. Also, as a white woman my experience is inherently different than a woman of color: I don’t have to think about racism as a factor when assessing safety or whether a situation might escalate. The tools you choose to use to empower yourself are also dependent on your comfort level and individual philosophy for self-defense. This episode is a no-judgment zone and I hope it’ll be helpful for everyone listening. But enough from me. We have so much to learn from Nicole:

Gale Straub:

When did your personal interest in self-defense start?

Nicole Snell:

I’ve always really been athletic. And like I was the kid that liked to play sports on the playground. I was always play wrestling with my brothers and my friends at school. And I remember taking a martial arts class when I was in high school, because I just, I wanted to know more. I was always interested in learning more. That’s kind of what drives most of what I do in my life is I’m just curious. I want to know, Oh, I don’t know how to do this. Well, let me learn. So I took a martial arts class and I really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t allowed to stay in that class. And then I took more martial arts classes when I was in college. Again, it was perfect for college credit and it was for sports. I remember it was a few, several years ago actually now.

Nicole Snell:

And I was dating a guy at the time and we were play wrestling in my apartment and he pinned me to the ground and then was like laughing because he had me completely pinned and I couldn’t get out of it. And an alarm bell went off in the back of my head. I thought to myself, Nicole, like, you don’t know what to do. What if this was real? It wasn’t real in this moment, but what if it was real? What would you do? And I didn’t have an answer. It was just a blink in my head. And I didn’t like that feeling of not knowing of not having an option of not being able to think through a solution. And that is what ultimately sent me into a self-defense specifically to learn what I can do in situations like that.

Gale Straub:

Could you unpin yourself now? You think?

Nicole Snell:

Yes, yes I can now. And here’s the thing too. So the training that I got was through impact personal safety, where I’m a lead instructor now as well, they do full contact, fully realistic scenario training. And one of the things that they’re teaching you when you’re in a situation like that, where you might be pinned, is there a lot of dynamics going on? You know, there’s not just one type of situation. So for me, I’ll put it in context of my situation. So my ex was pinning me to the ground and my hands pinned. And he had, you know, my legs pin and he had his body weight on me and he was just sitting there holding onto me. But in that moment he can’t hurt me either because all his energy is being spent, holding all my body parts down. So I’m not really in danger at that moment. That knowledge gave me a lot of power because we don’t always talk about that. Like, if you’re being pinned in that kind of a way, there’s also not a lot someone can do while they’re also holding you down so much. So with the training of impact is they teach us how to think through. And then when one of your body parts is let go, like an arm is let go or something like that, how to keep your frame of mind so that when that opening comes, then you can take that opening and Stripe.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. You never think about that, but that makes so much sense. If you’re able to become in that moment, you can start to plan your next steps.

Nicole Snell:

Yeah, very often assailants who are committing crimes like this, they have done it before and they’re expecting things to go a certain way because maybe that’s the way it’s always gone. Maybe they’re so used to being able to scare someone or someone freezes, which are very normal responses. And I just want to put this out here right now, whatever anyone did to survive their situation. It was the right thing to do. And fighting back is a option. It’s a choice that you can make, or you can choose not to make. And no matter what choice you make, if it gets you out of the situation, it’s the right one. There’s no blame at all. I say that because assailants often expect a certain response. So if we give them a response, that’s not what they’re expecting. Then we have the element of surprise. And that’s also where we get our power in that moment.

Gale Straub:

Thank you for saying that. And one of the things that I really respect about all the work you do is how personal, you know, this all is that it all is dependent often on the situation that you’re in. It depends on who you are. Depends on so many different factors. And I know that anyone listening is really gonna appreciate hearing that from you knowing, you know, if they have been in a similar situation or if they even were trying to picture themselves in a situation like that. And didn’t think that they might be able to react in a similar way. So I just wanted to say, I really appreciate that.

Nicole Snell:

Oh, well, thank you. I, it’s so important. I’m a survivor myself. I work with a lot of survivors and that’s part of the reason why I’m became a victim advocate as well, was to be able to support and be there for survivors. And what’s called in advocacy terms is like a victim centered approach. It’s like empowering people to make the decisions that work best for them in this situation. And I think that’s, what’s so important why I enjoy teaching self defense so much is because not only can it be a preventative tool by getting people information, which is tools for your toolbox. Now you have an option of how to respond in a way that maybe before you would have drawn a blank, at least now you have an option, so it could be preventative, but in the instance that you are a survivor, it can help give you your power back because it gives you back that sense of control. And you find that, you know what, you are powerful that regardless of what message you’ve heard or what you’ve experienced that may make you think that maybe you’re not powerful or that you’re helpless, or that there’s nothing that you can do that you do have options that you are powerful. And that now if you face a similar situation in the future, now you have a choice and that can be very empowering and healing as well.

Gale Straub:

Hmm. I also love how much of your work is centered around how it is about opening up opportunities, how having these tools can make you more empowered to do the things that you want to love, or to take those chances that maybe you’ve been putting off or feeling a little nervous about. What are some of the ways that you’ve seen that philosophy show up through your work, especially with outdoor defense?

Nicole Snell:

Oh, I think one of the main things is teaching people about intuition and awareness. And these are things that we have innate in us as animals, because all animals have intuition. Humans are the only ones humans are the only ones with nor, and when we can harness our intuition, I mean, right. It’s like if you ask anybody, if they’d had a moment where they felt something weird and they ignored it, almost everybody can think of a time. I mean, I can still think of a time, but our power comes in knowing that our intuition is designed to protect us from danger so that when we face similar cases in the future where our intuition sends us a message, we can listen. And that is really key. A big part of self-defense is that it’s not about what you should do. It’s what you can do.

Nicole Snell:

It’s about doing the best that you can with the information that you have. I’ve hiked solo so many times, but you know what? I’ve been on solo hikes where something fell off and I turned around and went back home. I hike at night here, locally in LA because I know the trail, I know the mountains, but if I, for whatever reason was not feeling safe, or maybe I’m going on a new trail, maybe I might not do it at night. And back, there was a time I was exploring a trail that wasn’t too far from my house. It’s a new one, kind of like in the Hills. And I just hadn’t seen it before. And I decided to go check it out. And it was in the evening, the sun starts going down and it’s not a very well traveled trail at all. Like I needed a machete to like get through all the preps.

Nicole Snell:

And I was like trying to get in here. And I thought to myself, you know what, Nicole, this isn’t very smart because it’s going to get dark soon. It was just a walk almost, you know, like I didn’t have a headlamp, I didn’t have my backpack with me. I always had a water bottle. I wasn’t prepared. And I turned around. So it’s about having the tools to be able to assess your situation and make a decision that’s best for you with the information that you have not about going out and purposely seeking out dangerous things.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. And a lot of that is there’s overlap between those things that you do to get prepared for a hike and also the awareness of what you need to be aware of to keep yourself safe from other people on the trail.

Nicole Snell:

Yes. I try to use that parallel when I’m talking about outdoor defense and safety from people when you’re hiking, because there’s also safety from animals, there’s safety as far as well. What happens if you lose the trail it’s night, what do you pack with you? What if it’s a survival situation? What if you slip and fall and you slide down the mountain and now you need to wait to be rescued. So there are things that we may plan for in those contexts. Like for instance, I always bring a first aid kit. I have a multi-tool in case I’m in a survival situation. So I can cut trees, branches, cut, clothes to make tourniquets and shelters and things like that. Just a signal mirror, an emergency blanket. Like I carry just these little things with me, just in case there was an emergency worst case scenario. And I feel like self-defense is the thing that we can carry with us anywhere we go that can help protect us from dangerous situations from other people. And also from environmental things as well, because these are tools that we have their life skills, and then we can use those anywhere.

Gale Straub – Narration:

We’ll talk more with Nicole about adding more self-defense tools to your toolbox after this.

 

MIDROLL BREAK

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Gale Straub – Narration:

We’re back. Nicole shares that the foundations of personal safety are three tools: intuition, awareness, and setting strong verbal boundaries. I’m going to speak for myself and acknowledge that these three things can be difficult for me, especially boundary setting. But just talking with Nicole made me want to trust my own intuition more and to not perpetuate the socialization that has gotten in the way of my own enjoyment in the outdoors. Here’s Nicole.

Nicole Snell:

For me, it’s the foundation is intuition and awareness because those are the things that we use everyday to keep ourselves safe. Now, the physical skills, of course, I believe that everybody can benefit from learning the physical skills, if nothing else, than just to remind yourself of how powerful you are when you know that you can defend yourself with your body. Oh my gosh, it just changes you. It changes the way you look at things. It gives you a confidence that maybe you didn’t have before of knowing that you can handle yourself and having those tools for worst case scenario, of course, but the majority of safety situations that we face on a daily basis deal with using our intuition, our awareness and our verbal skills, you know, setting boundaries, telling someone that they’re making me feel uncomfortable or saying you’re falling a little too closely behind me.

Nicole Snell:

I need you to step back feeling competent, speaking up and using our boys. Those things not only help us with our self-defense, but they also serve as deterrent. Because if an assailant is looking to target someone, they are very often targeting someone who they perceive to be vulnerable or accessible, or maybe even distracted. And if we are aware, if we’re using our intuition, if we are competent setting verbal boundaries, then that can send the message to that person who may be looking to target you. Okay? This isn’t somebody that I want to mess with those skills alone are things that we can use all the time I have yet to actually use my physical skills. I’ve never had to heal Palm somebody or need somebody in the groin. I hope I never have to, but I know that I could, if I need to, but any time that I am out in public almost all the time, you end up setting some sort of a verbal boundary with someone or you’re using your intuition, or you’re aware of where did you park your car? And who’s standing too closely in line behind you in the grocery store. Things like that. Those are the things we use all the time.

Gale Straub:

I can say as an individual, I have a lot of trouble. I say, I’m sorry. All the time. I have a hard time speaking up for myself. I have a tendency to like defer to other people and try to accommodate. So a scenario that just popped into my head would be if, say I parked at a trail, head by myself, going planning and going for a solo hike that I was excited to go on solo. But someone continued to match pace with me just to be friendly, but it still didn’t make me feel comfortable. And it also, wasn’t what I had wanted for the day. What advice would you have for someone in that instance?

Nicole Snell:

I would turn to them and say, look, I came out here because I wanted to enjoy the Charles by myself on my own terms. So I don’t want to hike with you. Yeah.

Gale Straub:

And that’s literally what I just told you essentially, but I still asked you the question.

Nicole Snell:

No, it’s okay. So many people struggle with it. I struggle with it. I mean, come on. We’re all human. We’re all just trying to do the best that we can. I am only an expert of my own personal safety. I’m not an expert of anyone else’s personal safety, you and everyone. Who’s listening. You all know best. What is best for you. I may be able to help you and, and give you some additional tools and new ways to think about things and some skills you didn’t have before, but you are ultimately in charge of you. And there’s power in that. And knowing that you are 100% capable of defending yourself and making the choices that are safest for you and protecting yourself. Oftentimes we, and I don’t want to generalize, but societaly is things are still very binary as far as how the gender norms are concerned.

Nicole Snell:

So a lot of people who are women or who identify as women or who to other people may be, may look as if they would identify as a woman. They are expected to behave in certain ways, based on our gender norms. We’re expected to be nice, to be polite, to accommodate other people, to say, we’re sorry to put the needs of other people above our own needs. Things like that. What I challenge people to do with my courses and with our teachings is your comfort. And your safety is more important than someone else’s feelings. You don’t have to apologize. I’m going to pause for a second

Gale Straub – Narration:

I’m going to pause and replay that, because I don’t think most of us get to hear that often enough.

Nicole Snell:

Your comfort and your safety is more important than someone else’s feelings. You don’t have to apologize. You do not have to apologize for taking up space in this world. And if someone’s making you feel uncomfortable, it’s okay for you to tell them that or tell them I’m not interested in speaking with you. I’m not interested in hiking with you. I would appreciate it. If you didn’t follow me anymore, I’m not interested in talking and to a lot of people that sounds very maybe rude. It’s direct. Yes, but it’s not rude. We may consider it to be rude. Cause maybe that’s outside of our comfort zone of things to say, but the more we practice being comfortable speaking up for what we need and honoring what we need, then we can walk through the world more empowered.

Gale Straub:

That is such a good thing for everyone to hear, regardless of, of how they might react in that particular situation. It’s such a, an important reminder for everyday life. Just as much as it is for, for being on the trail.

Nicole Snell:

Yeah. Just, I sometimes still have trouble wanting to say, I’m sorry, especially now during COVID, when I’m not interacting outside with as many people. So sometimes now when I get out and I am interacting from six feet away with someone, I might slip back into old habits because I’m not in practice as much. And then I’ll say to myself, Nicole, like, you didn’t have to say, sorry. Like there was nothing to apologize for. Like, what am I apologizing for? There’s nothing to be sorry about. You don’t have to be sorry to set a boundary. And here’s the thing, too. If you set a boundary, like let’s use your example where you get to a trail, head by yourself and someone decides that they are going to hike with you today. So first of all, they didn’t ask you for your permission. So they’re joining you.

Nicole Snell:

Just assuming that it’s okay, which is not okay inherently. And two they’re making you feel uncomfortable. So your intuition is sending you a message. There is nothing wrong with you. Being able to turn to them and say, look, I am not interested in hiking with you, please, please. You can go, I’ll stop you, go ahead. And you continue on, but I am not interested in hiking with you. That may sound like it’s mean, but it’s not. You’re just setting a boundary. Now how that person reacts, that gives you a lot of information about them and their intentions. And you have no control over how someone reacts to your boundary. All you can control is what you say and speaking up for what you need. Not that person gets super offended and they call you a name and they Huff off. Well, I mean, so you don’t know that you don’t owe them anything.

Nicole Snell:

Now, if they get super hostile and they turn to you and they get really aggressive, okay? They just gave you a lot of information about them. And it’s great because now they’ve just shown you who they are now. You know, this person is potentially a threat or at the very least there are very angry. You know, just by how they’re reacting, that gives you information. What are you going to do? Are you going continue? The hike, knowing that person is within, you know, a few hundred feet of you at all times, are you going to maybe go to a different trail at that time? Like you have options now that maybe you didn’t have before. And then if for whatever reason, it escalated to a hundred, you still have options. You could run away. If you’re still close enough to your car, or if getting away to safety is not an option. And there’s no one else nearby. You can use your physical skills because you are capable.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I love that – setting boundaries opens up options for you. Before my conversation with Nicole I asked my team if anyone had any specific questions for her about self defense and Tori, who produces a lot of our ads, asked this one:

Gale Straub:

Say you did stumble upon someone on the trail who needed help, you know, who was in an altercation of some kind. What advice would you have for someone in terms of intervening on someone else’s behalf? If there is a situation that looks like someone could use help.

Nicole Snell:

Oh, that’s a great question. Oh gosh. I wish there was one simple way to answer it. There’s not really, if you come across something, you’re going to have to use your intuition. You know, we, I don’t, I would say we, I don’t want you to intervene in something that has already escalated to violence and now you could possibly be injured. So in a situation like that, unless you feel safe, intervening, then you can go get help. If you feel safe and comfortable calling nine one, one, or you, depending on where you are, if you can call the ranger or something like that to get emergency services, then you can always do that. If you’re hiking with a group, maybe the group together could intervene. You can ask the person, you know, do they need help or what’s going on? What I teach with my bystander intervention segment is I talk about non complementary behavior, which is where you kind of go into the situation with opposite energy sustain.

Nicole Snell:

Maybe you’ve walked into like an argument and it looks like it might be escalating. You can just say, Hey, you know, I saw a mountain lion up there. Did you see, you know, something to distract them something to take their mind off of what’s happening and seeing if you can get the person that is being assaulted or the person that is in need of help, see if you can get them to come with you or get out of the situation. But it’s all about bursting you to look and see what’s happening. Do you feel safe, intervening? And if you do okay, what are some of my options? And that’s going to be dependent on who you are, where you are what’s happening.

Gale Straub:

Absolutely. That’s great advice though. Thank you for, for taking a really broad question and coming up with some different scenarios that could occur.

Nicole Snell:

Well, you’re welcome. Thank you. I love, I love this stuff. I mean, gosh, this is, this is my passion talking about this. So this is wonderful. Ask away. One

Gale Straub:

Thing that I know that comes up a, when we talk about personal safety is whether or not to carry something like pepper spray or a knife or some other type of weapon, it always feels like a loaded conversation. It often is something that a lot of people feel differently about. If you’re comfortable speaking to it, I would love to hear what your thoughts are.

Nicole Snell:

I would be happy to speak on this. This comes up a lot. Like you said, I, I see it all the time. People DME about it. Whenever I do a Q and a it’s always one of the first things people ask is what do you carry? As far as like a weapon or a tool? What do you recommend that we carry you’re right? There are a lot of different ways to approach this and everyone has their own opinions. And I I’m going to express my opinions if they differ from anyone. Else’s I mean, no disrespect to anyone else. I’m just going to put out there my philosophies on it. First of all, I am an advocate for education and not necessarily an advocate for weapons, which means I am never going to suggest that someone goes out and gets a weapon and carries it with them.

Nicole Snell:

I am going to advocate for education so that if you choose to carry a weapon, my number one advice to you is that you have to train with it. You just have to, you can’t buy something. And then all of a sudden expect to know how to handle that tool or weapon in an adrenalized situation. That’s not something that’s talked about a lot. So let’s talk about the science of it. When your body is highly adrenalized, your gross motor skills go up. So big movements, big movements that don’t take a lot of articulation, you know, like a heel Palm or running, but your fine motor skills go down. That’s things that require your hands, your fingers, putting a key in a door, lock, putting a key in an ignition, switch, opening a zipper, or unlocking a pepper spray. Things like that. That take highly articulated movements.

Nicole Snell:

They’re not as readily available to you when you’re adrenalized, unless you’ve trained in that state, unless you’ve trained with it. So if you are going to get a weapon, you need to be able to train with it. You need to be able to get it out quickly. You need to know that if you don’t train with it, that it may not respond in the way that you expect it to when you are in a stressful situation. And then the second thing I’ll say about weapons is that anything that you bring into a fight, it can be used against you. We have to just accept that reality. It could happen. And the third thing is that I want to empower people to put their trust and their security and their safety in themselves and their bodies and their minds. Because those are the things that you’ll have with you.

Nicole Snell:

No matter where you go, there’s certain States where you can’t carry certain types of weapons, even certain counties, even some national parks, some countries, depending on where you travel, your availability of carrying certain types of weapons are limited. And if we have put all of our security into this external thing, hoping it’ll save us, then how do we then feel if we can’t have it with us now, are we all of a sudden not capable protecting ourselves now? Are we helpless? And we’re not a tool or weapon may not always respond. Like I said, in the way we expect it to, and it could fail, you know, it could break. So if you are going to carry something, just make sure you train with it and you practice with it. You understand how it works, how to use it, but know that you are enough.

Nicole Snell:

You have plenty of weapons on your body that you can use. And they are available to you 24 seven. If you are a person with a disability or an injury, there are modifications and other things that you can do and things that you can use. But that, that is what I’ll say about weapons. I don’t carry anything with me when I hike other than multi-tool. I carry that with me for wilderness survival emergencies. I don’t carry it with me as a weapon. I am not going to tell people that they shouldn’t. I’m just simply going to say whatever you do, just please educate yourself and put your security in yourself first and foremost.

Gale Straub:

Yeah, I can definitely see where with you laying all that out, that there is this, this risk of having a false sense of security too. It almost could be like a band-aid when, when you really should have invest in yourself in terms of building that foundation so that you can feel more confident going out and doing what you love outside.

Nicole Snell:

Exactly like self-defense and you can take with you anywhere. You take a class, you learn and you can learn from many different people. That’s going to be something that you can take with you anywhere you go.

Gale Straub:

What advice would you have for someone who doesn’t feel like they’re living in a world of don’t, but potentially their mother does, or, you know, like w what advice you have for, for people who have other family members or other people who worry for them, and they want to put those people at ease.

Nicole Snell:

Oh, you mean like me? Like my sister?

Nicole Snell:

Like, you know, that I don’t ever carry anything. And my favorite thing that I say to her now, she’s like, carry a weapon. And I’m like, I am a weapon. And it’s true. We are weapons. The sooner that we realize that, and we stop believing the messages that try to tell us that we’re helpless or that we’re weak or all these things when we’re not any of those things. But here’s what I say to her is I always tell her where I’m going. If I’m going to go so low, because I don’t know about you, but I saw that movie 127 hours with a guy had to chop off his arm because nobody knew where he was. I don’t ever want that to be me. That’s why, whenever I go on a solo hike, I’ll just tell her, I’ll text her. Like, Hey, I’m going to Griffith.

Nicole Snell:

I’ll be in this area that way, you know, two days goes by and she doesn’t hear from me. She can at least tell the Rangers where I was supposed to be in what area I let her know that. And I always just remind her, like, I am trained, I’m skilled. And I cannot eliminate all the risks that exist in my life, hiking or not. Right. We live in a world that is full of risks. We live in a world where violence exists and we can’t ignore that fact. But what we can do is we can learn how to manage our risks as best we can so that we don’t have to walk around living in fear reminders. Hey, I’m trained. I’m going to take all the precautions that need to, but I’m still gonna go out and live my life and make the best decisions that I can.

Gale Straub:

And hopefully leading by example in that way is going to help change, especially generationally.

Nicole Snell:

Yeah. It’s about understanding how capable we are and that it’s all about choice. I know I have friends that will never, ever want to go on a 12 mile hike ever, but then I have friends that are down with, you know, Oh, Hey, you want to go? You start at midnight and hiked 14 miles. It’s not about trying to force anyone to do anything that they don’t want to do, but helping them find the courage within themselves to know that they can do the things that they want to do, regardless of what those things are. They can,

Gale Straub:

You know, I was just going through all of your YouTube videos. I really appreciate all of the different scenarios that you come up with through these short instructional videos, because you really can’t get too micro with this because everything that you learn sets you up to be more prepared and have more confidence in the outdoors.

Nicole Snell:

Absolutely. It’s, it’s all about just developing that confidence. And the thing that I say, like the motto for my company is you are worth fighting for, and for someone who may not have said that to themselves, or even believed it themselves, or even thought that they needed to hear themselves say that that can be so powerful to know that you are worth fighting for. And once you know that, and then once you learn some of these really basic skills to be able to fight for yourself, if you need to and fighting, doesn’t just mean physical. It means everything that we’ve talked about, intuition, your awareness, your verbal skills, all those things are a way of fighting back, stepping in for somebody that may need help, can be a form of fighting back. And when we know we can do that, then it really does just open up our world. Because the question that we can ask ourselves is what would I do if I wasn’t afraid for my safety, what in the world would open up to me? If that wasn’t a concern? And that’s the question that I want to help people answer, what can I give to you? What tools and training can I give to, to help you feel more comfortable living the life that you want to live and making the choices you want to make without feeling like you have to live in a world full of don’t in order to be safe.

Gale Straub – Narration:

As Nicole mentioned in her intro, she’s the CEO and owner of Girl’s Fight Back, as well as the creator behind Outdoor Defense, an informative series on personal safety and self defense in the outdoors. She filled me on what she’s up to this year:

Nicole Snell:

Well, the work that I’m doing with Girls Fight Back is all the programs are already virtual. Now I made that transition last year. So everything that I do is virtual and the primary work that I do with girls fight back is for speaking engagements, seminars and things for groups is what I primarily do. So you have a group or a conference, or I do a lot of work with schools and corporations. Um, I do work with the military as well. I train them on boundary setting and empowerment and things like that. That’s what I primarily do with girls by facts. Our mission is to teach violence prevention and personal safety and self-defense, and make it accessible for women and girls. And those who identify as women and girls. And we have gender inclusive programs as well, because I believe everybody can benefit from learning this.

Nicole Snell:

So that’s why I have a whole range of different programs that range from just teaching boundaries, to teaching self-defense and boundaries, to focusing on how to get out of awkward situations with people, you know, and things like that. What I really want to do with girls by five is I want to travel around the world, teaching self-defense, and I want to work with organizations and get sponsored by organizations that can help me get this training into BiPAP communities, underserved at risk, vulnerable shelters, things like that. People who wouldn’t normally be able to afford this training or geographically wasn’t nearby to them. I want to reach those communities because I feel like this is so important. And actually women of color are one of the most at risk demographics for violence. I want to reach those communities

Gale Straub – Narration:

As for Outdoor Defense, Nicole kicked off Season 2 in January. You can find all episodes on YouTube, and you can support her work on Ko-Fi, a platform for supporting indie creators.

Gale Straub:

I know that you’ve traveled all over the world, and I know that you spend so much time outside and there was so much more that we could chat about it went by so fast. There’s so much more that we could talk about, and hopefully we’ll connect on in a future episode.

Gale Straub – Narration:

But in the meantime, you can learn more by digging into Nicole’s work through Outdoor Defense, and Girls fight Back for today. I want to leave you with Nicole’s vision for a more empowered world.

Nicole Snell:

I’m just so passionate about this work. We all deserve to live competently and freely. We all deserve to live our life without having to apologize for doing things or having to look over our shoulder every second, because of fear, you know, fear is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a response to danger and it serves a purpose, but I don’t want people to have to walk their life with that fear. I would love for everyone to have this training from the time they’re in elementary school, learning how to set boundaries and understanding how to use your body, to fight back and, and using your verbal skills and all of these things. Because if we had this at a younger age than imagine, that the ripple effect that we can have on the world, if everyone came into this knowledge sooner.

 

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