Liz in September, Reel Affirmations
D.C.’s LGBT International Film Festival Returns
July 23, 2015
Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene, Tagg Magazine
An Interview with ‘For Sizakele’ Author Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene
July 27, 2015

Fight the Fear with Brandi Carlile

Lauren Taylor of Defend Yourself teaches class at CQWS (Photo by Donnie Riggs)

At times, the difference between life and death depends on self-defense. Singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile understands the importance of providing the community with a violence prevention initiative. Her campaign is joining forces with the local Defend Yourself instructors to bring Fight the Fear to Washington, D.C. All women, particularly LGBTQ, including transgender men and women, as well as gender nonconforming, are welcome to attend. Participants will learn a broad overview of self-defense skills followed by an extra hour specifically geared to the LGBTQ community.

Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile (Image courtesy of

Carlile was inspired to start Fight the Fear Campaign after an attack on a lesbian couple in Seattle. Teresa Butz and her partner were awakened in the middle of the night to an attacker who brutally raped and cut them. Butz managed to get out of a window but bled out in the street in front of their house as neighbors tried to help. Her partner who survived the attack recounted how her only plan was to stay completely still in the hopes that the man would leave. Carlile, an out lesbian herself, was stirred by this horrific crime to join the fight in ending gender-based violence. She had already established the Looking Out Foundation in 2008, and used that to fund the Fight the Fear Campaign in honor of Butz. The goal is to make self-defense available to as many as possible and to give the community a sense of safety knowing they have a plan. Fight the Fear Campaign is hosting classes surrounding Carlile’s tour dates this summer.

Defend Yourself prides themselves on their holistic approach to self-defense. The workshop will start off with being aware of warning signs, red flags to watch out for, how to deal with street harassment, and ways to prevent an attack. From there the focus will be on ways to be assertive and hone your verbal skills to defend yourself. Then techniques to physically defend yourself against an attack and get away safely will be established. During the last hour of the class, instructors will build on what was previously taught and expand on specific vulnerabilities in the LGBTQ community.

Lauren Taylor, the founder of Defend Yourself, stresses the significance of self-defense classes because “if you get even just some of these skills, you can live with less fear.” She hopes to give all of her students, “the confidence to live your life the way you want to live.” Students who have taken their classes praise the instructors’ ability to create a comfortable, supportive environment to find the confidence to focus on their strengths.

Defend Yourself with Brandi Carlile takes place Saturday, July 25 at 2 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church, 733 8th St. NW, Washington, D.C. For more information or to sign-up contact or call 301-608-3708.