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Ashley Bendiksen        

Top Youth Motivational Speaker, Expert on Domestic & Sexual Violence, Award-Winning Activist

Ashley Bendiksen is a national speaker and award-winning activist, leading change in the areas of domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, as well as resilience, mental health, and personal development.

She's been seen on major news media, including the #1 true crime podcast on iTunes, and was featured in an 8x award-winning documentary on Notoriety Network. Bendiksen graduated as Valedictorian of Salve Regina University with a B.A. in Administration of Justice and built an accomplished career in criminal justice, victim services, primary prevention, policy, advocacy, and communications. She is sought after as a top speaker for youth and schools, in addition to training first responders, victim services providers, workplaces, and military bases.

As an activist, Bendiksen has spearheaded countless social change initiatives, successfully lobbied for the passage of new laws, and held leadership and chairperson roles for dozens of nonprofit and grassroots organizations. She is also the founder of the Blue Hearts Project - a global storytelling platform for survivors of abuse - and co-manages an online support group alongside ABC’s The Bachelorette, Katie Thurston. In her local community, she serves on two boards of directors, which includes her county’s domestic violence resource center.

Passionate about mentoring youth, Bendiksen is also the co-founder of Island Youth Coaching - an agency specializing in life coaching and college consulting for teens and young adults. She also coaches trauma survivors as a Certified Life Empowerment Coach, Victim Advocate, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Practitioner. Bendiksen is also extensively trained in trauma recovery, holistic wellness, and alternative healing modalities and is experienced in providing LGBTQ+ and BIPOC-informed support, as well as assisting non-cis and male survivors.

Bendiksen held the title of Miss Rhode Island for America in 2021. Before this, she held the title of Miss New Bedford 2009 and placed in the Top 5 in the Miss Massachusetts pageant. She also serves as the editor of two major magazines in her community.

Speech Topics

Resilience & Managing Challenges: Choosing to Rise

Through powerful, real-life storytelling Ashley teaches students the skills they need to stay positive and focused when faced with life challenges, disappointments, or sudden plot twists. As someone who has overcome adversity, Ashley knows the power of mindset and perspective, as well as seeking help when help is needed. She also knows that great opportunity always exists in moments of perceived limitations. This presentation, therefore, combines Ashley’s story, with simple but effective strategies every student can implement when facing obstacles.


  • How to stay motivated and focused
  • How to manage negative emotions
  • Power of reframing and positive thinking
  • Strategies for self-care and social/emotional well-being

Leadership & Achievement: Anything is Achievable! From Big Vision to Reality

From homeless and a college dropout to Valedictorian, award-winning activist, nonprofit founder, and social entrepreneur, Ashley is living proof that “anything is achievable.” Her story motivates students of all backgrounds to aim high and believe in themselves – from struggling at-risk students to motivated student leaders. This presentation helps students stay focused, motivated, and positive – no matter what challenges they face. It also inspires students to discover who they are, define what they want, set big goals, and become leaders – personally, in their communities, and even globally.


  • Discovering YOU and YOUR biggest vision
  • Reframing challenges to see possibilities
  • Daily practices for self-leadership
  • Active participation and experiential learning
  • Overcoming adversity, succeeding in a non-traditional path
  • *Variation: Idea to Impact, Launching a Social Change/Advocacy Project

Staff Development: Be a Lifeline! Empowerment to Intervene

It’s critical for youth-serving adults to stay informed on the issues today’s youth face, plus know how to effectively respond or refer help for a student who’s been harmed. This presentation helps adults understand the prevalence and secondary impact of teen dating violence on students, and their role to help a student in need. Attendees will hear Ashley’s story, coupled with valuable education and skills training. Depending on the audience, Ashley can also address how to role model healthy relationship skills across all ages. For direct service providers (those working with abused or at-risk youth), Ashley offers professional development for improved and effective response and support.


  • Teen dating violence awareness + common red flags
  • Secondary impact on SEL, academic, and student well-being
  • Simple intervention and referral techniques
  • Increased overall school wellness
  • *PD Variation: Trauma-informed and empowerment-based support

Dating Violence Prevention: Stand Up, Speak Out, and Press Reset!

At 14, Ashley was excited about her first dating relationship. Unfortunately, it became abusive, starting a cycle of unhealthy relationships that would negatively impact Ashley during her entire adolescence – personally, socially, emotionally, and academically. Sadly, Ashley’s story is not unique. In the U.S., 1 in 3 teens will experience dating violence, while 1 in 5 high school students know someone being abused. This can be physical, sexual, or more commonly, emotional. These behaviors impact student mental health, safety, social-emotional well-being, and academic achievement.

As a survivor turned subject matter expert, Ashley teaches teens what a healthy relationship looks like, what to watch out for, and what to do when abuse occurs.


  • Awareness of dating abuse and top red flags
  • Qualities of a healthy relationship
  • How to set boundaries and priorities
  • Seeking help and how to help a friend
  • *Variation: sexual assault awareness, prevention, and consent

Bystander Intervention: Your Power as a Difference Maker

As bystanders, every student has the power to be a leader, helper, and change-maker in social settings. Bystanders play a key role in preventing harm. Unfortunately, research shows that most bystanders don’t act because they’re just not sure what to do or how to help. This dynamic and interactive presentation helps turn ‘passive bystanders’ into ‘active bystanders’ through education, simple intervention strategies, role-playing, and scenario-based activities.

A proven violence prevention tool, students will learn to spot risks and harm (from assault to bullying and hate speech) and learn easy but effective techniques to intervene.


  • Leadership as a bystander
  • Increased sense of responsibility to help
  • How to spot red flags and safely offer help
  • Finding your unique intervention “style”
  • Enhanced school culture, attitudes, safety and wellness

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