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Meet the Authors

Nadia Telsey and Lauren R. Taylor are pioneers of the field of empowerment self-defense. Both are survivors of gender-based violence who, for a combined seventy-plus years, have been teaching skills for stopping harassment, abuse, and assault of those most often targeted: women, LGBTQIA+ people, teens, children, and disabled people.

"Get Empowered" co-author, Nadia Telsey, photographed by Annie Popkin.

Nadia Telsey 1947-2024

Nadia Telsey (she/they) pioneered the field of verbal and emotional (as opposed to solely physical) self-defense, and her work has influenced generations of self-defense instructors in the U.S. and around the world.

In 1970 she co-founded a feminist self-defense school in Brooklyn, N.Y. (now the Center for Anti-Violence Education). She’s taught empowerment self-defense to thousands of students, focusing on women, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups. Her class at the University of Oregon has been the subject of research on the efficacy of the approach.

Her teaching and service for years as director of Rape Crisis Network, with the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and

Photo: Annie Popkin

Sexual Violence, and on the Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force resulted in many awards, including from the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation, City of Eugene Human Rights Commission, and the Sexual Assault Task Force.

Nadia wrote a version of this book in 1988, called Self Defense from the Inside Out, and used it successfully with about 2,000 young women. At her request, Lauren updated and revised the early version extensively. 

Nadia requested that people wanting to honor her memory and continue her legacy make “Get Empowered” available to incarcerated women. To participate, click here. 

Lauren R. Taylor

Lauren R. Taylor (she/they) 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. As an empowerment self-defense teacher and founder-director of Defend Yourself, she and her team have offered more than 1,500 trainings to some 35,000 people in the D.C. area and nationally. She specializes in teaching women, survivors, disabled people, and LGBTQIA+ people.

Lauren also co-founded Safe Bars, which teaches bystander intervention skills to those who work in bars, clubs, breweries, and restaurants to create safer and more inclusive hospitality culture. In 2016 she co-founded the National Street Harassment Hotline, in cooperation with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and Stop Street Harassment.

"Get Empowered" co-author, Lauren R. Taylor, photographed by Nasreen Alkhateeb.

Photo: Nasreen Alkhateeb

Lauren’s work has been featured in The Washington Post, Self, the Huffington Post, and on National Public Radio, Upworthy, Quartz, and Mic. She’s spoken at the National Sexual Assault Conference, National Center for Victims of Crime training institute, and AAUW’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, which together reach more than 7,000 leaders in the field of gender-based violence prevention and recovery.

Her writing has been published widely, including in The Washington Post, Everyday Feminism, and the Ms. Blog.

Lauren has been recognized with the following awards:

Lauren talks empowerment self-defense with Ms. Magazine

Video: David Van Taylor

Places You Can Find Out More

More about Lauren R. Taylor: 


More info on Defend Yourself:


Follow Defend Yourself on socials: 

Center for Anti-Violence Education:

Photo of Get Empowered's audiobook narrator, Nicky Endres.
Photo of Get Empowered's illustrator, Nadia Fisher

Get Empowered’s illustrator,

Nadia Fisher:

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