top of page


Lauren R. Taylor is a leader in the field of preventing, interrupting, and healing from gender-based violence. Her book, “Get Empowered: A Practical Guide to Thrive, Heal, and Embrace Your Confidence in a Sexist World,” co-authored with Nadia Telsey, was released by Penguin Random House in 2023.


Lauren has been working to end gender-based violence since 1978, when she co-founded Washington, D.C.’s, first shelter for abused women and their children. She’s a survivor who, for more than 35 years, has been teaching skills for stopping harassment, abuse, and assault to those most often targeted: women, LGBTQIA2S+ people, and disabled people.


As a trainer and director of Defend Yourself, Lauren and her team have reached more than 40,000 people in the D.C. area and nationally.


In 2014, Lauren co-founded Safe Bars, a bystander intervention training program for bar, restaurant, brewery, and club staffs that works to decrease unwanted sexual aggression in nightlife.

The program has trained trainers and set up Safe Bars programs in dozens of cities and towns across the U.S.


In addition to “Get Empowered,” Lauren’s writing on interpersonal violence and violence prevention has been widely published in The Washington Post, Everyday Feminism, the Ms. Blog, and other media.


Lauren’s work has been featured in The Washington Post, Self, the Huffington Post, and on National Public Radio, Unworthy, Quartz, Mic, CNN, and more.


Lauren has presented widely at national conferences, including the National Sexual Assault Conference, Creating Change (The National LGBTQ Task Force), the Women’s Convention, the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (American Association of University Women), National Center for Victims of Crime’s Training Institute, and more.

Image of Lauren, a middle-aged white woman, holding a microphone and speaking to a crowd. Her t-shirt (partially obscured) says "No is a complete sentence."


  • Co-founder, My Sister's Place, Washington, D.C.'s, first shelter for abused women and their children (1978)

  • Organizer, Washington, D.C.'s, first March to Stop Violence Against Women (1978)

  • Co-founder, Lesbian Health and Counseling Center (later affiliated with Whitman-Walker Clinic) (1981)

  • Founder, Defend Yourself: Empowerment Self-Defense training for those targeted for gender-based violence (1997)

  • Co-founder, professional development conference for Empowerment Self-Defense practitioners (2000)

  • Co-founder, director, Safe Bars: Active bystander training for those who work in bars, restaurants, breweries, clubs, and concert venues  (2013)

  • Co-founder, National Street Harassment Hotline (2016)

  • Co-founder, Empowerment Self-Defense Alliance (2016)

Photo: Leigh Mosely

Photo of Lauren sitting in a chair. Photo is a back view. You see Lauren, in a leopart-print coat, holding a sign that says "Shut down sexual violence."
"Get Empowered: A Practical Guide to Thrive, Heal, and Embrace Your Confidence in a Sexist World." Co-authored by Nadia Telsey; released by Penguin Random House. ORDER HERE 
Selected publications

Lauren sitting on the ground with her arms spread widely. In front of her written in chalk is a big pink heart and the words "Defend Yourself."
Selected speaking engagements​
  • Houston Women's Convention 

  • Creating Change (The National LGBTQ Task Force)

  • National Conference of College Women Leaders (American Association of University Women)

  • National Sexual Assault Conference

  • National Center for Victims of Crime’s national training institute

Selected appearances


Photo: Thomas Van Veen

Selected news coverage: Defend Yourself

Selected news coverage: Safe Bars

  • “Step Up in the Club,” Slate  

  • “These Bartenders are Fighting Sexual Harassment,” MicMedia            

  • “How bartenders fight harassment and workplace violence,” CNN        

  • “When Harassment Is the Price of a Job,” The Nation              

  • “I Train Bartenders to Prevent Sexual Assault,” MEL

  • 50% of Sexual Assaults Involve the Use of Alcohol,” Upworthy

  • and coverage in Wine & Spirits, Imbibe, The Spirits Business, Tales of the Cocktail, Restaurant Hospitality, and more!

bottom of page