She founded Just Yell Fire, a nonprofit which teaches self-defense skills to girls. Seven years later, Ms. Jessup has grown and so have her efforts.
Ms. Jessup produced “Just Yell Fire,” a self-defense video for high school girls, in 2006.
Last summer, she produced a second film for college women highlighting the dangers on campus and focusing on ways to prevent and escape date abuse, sexual assault or violence.
“Any girl anywhere in the world can watch for under an hour, for free how to get herself out of a situation,” Ms. Jessup said.
The way to get out of a situation, she advises, is not to stay and fight, but try to disable the attacker for just a few seconds so the victim can run. Bite him, gouge him in the eye, or simply yell “Fire” to get someone’s attention. She said, adding that unfortunately, people often ignore a call for help and are reluctant to get involved if they hear a girl scream “Rape!”
Ms. Jessup, who has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, says the two films exemplify the
mission of Just Yell Fire, which is empowering young women.
“We’re also going to schools, shelters in local areas to make sure girls work one-on-one with us,” she said, “make sure they can understand the techniques and really do them in real life.”
To keep spreading the word, Ms. Jessup has begun a train a trainer program.
“We bring leaders in the community to certify them in the Just Yell Fire program, so that they then can continue in their community and keep girls safe,” she said.
Just Yell Fire now has a presence in 65 countries. Last year Ms. Jessup traveled to India where the Vanderbilt University senior spent two weeks speaking at a dozen colleges on how to avoid slave traders and sex trafficking.
Ms. Jessup has testified before Congress and her efforts have been recognized by a number of organizations.
Most recently, in October , she received the World of Children Award as a social changemaker, transforming the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.