Vanderbilt student honored for advocacy work

WSMV-TV - Local News
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A Vanderbilt University student will soon be honored with the so-called Nobel Prize for child advocates after creating self-defense videos that help women fight back and live life on their own terms.

Dallas Jessup, 20, began her mission to empower women when she was just a high school freshman and saw a frightening video of a Florida girl.

"A man came up and said something to her, and she went away willingly. And four days later, they found her body. And I watched that going, 'that did not have to happen to her,'" Jessup said.

So, an idea was born to produce a video showing other girls moves she learned as a black belt and in street-fighting classes.

"I took a script writing class at a local community college, and the professor loved what we were doing and said, "I have friends in the industry, can I show it to them?' And from there it kind of spiraled. We had a crew of 30," Jessup said.

That video is jammed full of easy to remember self defense moves for real life situations, and in the six years since it was posted it has been seen 1.8 million times in 65 countries.

"The eye gouge, which is simply done by raking across the eye balls. And if you're in a really dire situation, you can jam your thumbs into the center of the eyes," Jessup said.

Her advocacy campaign is called Just Yell Fire, and she said doing just that is an effective way to get attention and help in a frightening situation.

"Granted, the average Good Samaritan would get involved if you yelled help, but that's not always the case. And if you yell, 'rape' or 'I'm being taken,' people are afraid to get involved," she said.

After she enrolled at Vanderbilt, Jessup said she discovered another shocking statistic. One out of every four women in college will experience some form of date rape before they ever graduate. And that led to a whole new chapter in her mission.

The Vandy senior created a new video for safety in campus life, wrote a book, runs an informational website and continues to campaign on national television.

Jessup will also get a grant for her work with the World of Children Award on Oct. 25.

For more information, visit the Just Yell Fire website: