The Advocate: Dr. Rae Taylor studies lethal domestic violence. Here’s what she can teach us

October 2020: A Note from Tracy Schott, founder of Voices4Change and the director and producer of the documentary Finding Jenn’s Voice and Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Inkandescent Women magazine — It is with awe and pride that we have the opportunity to introduce you to Dr. Rae Taylor, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Criminology and Justice at Loyola University New Orleans.

This truly amazing advocate for women studies lethal and nonlethal interpersonal violence, specializing in violence against women. Her work has been published in a number of scholarly journals and books — which is what brought her work with Tracy Schott and her documentary, the focus of the October 2020 issue of Inkandescent Women magazine.

Prior to academia, Rae worked as a victim advocate for the Office of the State Attorney in Florida, where she worked with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and other violent crimes. She remains active as a volunteer advocate in New Orleans.

After just an hour pre-interview on the phone with this truly amazing woman, it became clear there is much work for us to do together. We are going to start with this feature on her, and we’ll keep you posted on What’s Next!

Scroll down for the questions she’ll be answering for us in print, and soon as a podcast on the Truly Amazing Women Radio Show on 

What’s Next: 4 Questions for Dr. Rae Taylor

Hope & Cynthia: Tell us about your business / industry and where it was before the pandemic hit in March 2020. 

Dr. Rae Taylor: I am a college professor, so my “industry” is academia/higher education. Before the pandemic, I was teaching my students in the classroom and sometimes online, meeting with colleagues and students in person, and doing a ton of research and advocacy within the community. Now, nearly everything is taking place online. I have worked harder than ever to move my teaching online and to create the same level of engagement and intimacy that I have in the classroom with the difficult topics I teach. Research productivity has slowed significantly, as being home with kids and having to spend more time than usual on other job demands makes it hard to do work that requires substantial periods of quiet and concentration.

Hope & Cynthia: Where were you personally in your life when COVID-19 arrived in the US? What were your short and long-term goals at that time? 

Rae: I was in much the same place as now personally, though going to restaurants and spending time with friends regularly! Now, we stay home. I was and am first a mom and wife, but my professional life looked much different. My husband is also a professor, as are most of our closest friends, so we tend to have a lot of crossover between personal and professional. Also, academics tend to work around the clock and through the weekends, so the lines between personal and professional are always blurry. Pre-COVID, I was on research sabbatical, and my short term goals were to finish a ton of research I was doing and to write the papers for that work. Then, we were all at home, frightened, and spending most of our time and energy keeping our family healthy, entertained and minimally affected emotionally. Long-term, my goals have not changed, but are more at the mercy of the extended time they will take. I want to focus on living in the present and appreciating every moment with my family. I want to continue to be the best teacher I can be. I want to conduct policy and practice-oriented research that makes a difference in the lives of people. I want to give of my time and expertise to community work that makes a difference as well.

Hope & Cynthia: What are your thoughts now about your industry, your business, your personal life, your heart?

Rae: I worry about academia, especially about my students and how they will be affected long term emotionally with all the isolation and generally weird experience that college is right now, physically, as many college students have gotten sick, and professionally, as they likely face the toughest job market in many years. I want to create the most enriching experience for them when they are in my classes and in my role as an advisor. As the chair of my department, I want to continue to be an advocate for my colleagues and to take on as many of the burdens for them that I reasonably can to alleviate some of their stress and anxiety. I wish I could take away all the collective anxiety, isolation, fear and uncertainty for my students and colleagues. Everyone is struggling. It is heartbreaking.

As for my personal life, like so many (most?) people, 2020 has dealt us some hardships beyond COVID, but it has continuously given my family and me rich perspective on what is important. We talk regularly about how fragile life is, how fleeting time is, and how much we have to be grateful for. Even when we were fully quarantined, having groceries delivered, washing every item in the bags (washing a gallon of milk in the sink must be similar to trying to handle a greased pig), and struggling with cabin fever, we spent time talking about our blessings. I hope we continue this mindfulness and practice of sharing these things out loud long after COVID-19 is behind us.

My heart hurts for those who are struggling in all the ways so many are. I ache for those who, like my husband, have lost loved ones. I worry about the fate of our democracy. I fight letting my feelings of anger and resentment toward those who have exacerbated this crisis inhibit my fight for justice. And, I also search for hope. I believe that some revolutionary things are happening, and I am inspired by the tenacity of those leading these movements. I stand in solidarity with them, as an ally, an accomplice. I want my kids and everyone else’s kids to inherit a healthy, safe, just place to spend their lives. That is worth fighting for.

Hope & Cynthia: Now the big question — What do you see coming next? 


  • For your industry: Like many fields, academia will struggle for a while with lower enrollments and morale issues, but education is here to stay. We will continue to evolve to meet the demands of new technology and ways of learning, and I think we are learning and growing from the news ways the pandemic has forced us to do our jobs. I think we will carry some of these things with us when we are post-COVID.
  • For your organization: My university is a small liberal arts school in the heart of beautiful New Orleans. Our mission is social justice-centered, and, however our evolution looks, I believe we will remain true to that mission and will continue to attract the same bright, civic-minded young people who spend a few years with us and then go out and change the world.
  • For yourself: The older I get, the more I value and savor joy and peace. I would love to do lots of traveling and continue to have tons of fun experiences in our city and others, but, if in ten or twenty years I look back and say that I spent most of my time with my family and sitting on my porch with a glass of wine, I’ll consider that a life well lived.
  • For the country: Oh, gosh. What I hope is coming next is an awakening and unity. We are deeply divided in ways that should have long been resolved and reconciled, and those efforts must continue as long as they are still problem. Equality should be the paramount goal. If we don’t value any race or ethnicity, sex or gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, or economic class over another and continue to allow for stark power differentials based on any of these things, everyone will be better off in every way. I hope we never stop fighting to achieve equality. It’s revolutionary, and that takes time, but look how quickly we can do things when we decide they are important. But, we are also divided in some other ways that are, frankly, absurd and humiliating. Doubting science. Not supporting access to affordable healthcare for every person. Believing the government should have control over women’s access to birth control and other reproductive rights. Not respecting the separation of church and state. Believing the talking points rather than learning how to find the truth. I could go on and on. These are issues that have been worked out in plenty of cultures and could be here, but for willful ignorance. I have no patience for willful ignorance, and I think that is at the root of most of our problems.
  • For the world: Again, my hope is for unity and peace. I get how lofty that sounds, I really do, but we are a human race and we share a planet. We have to figure this out.
  • For women: Women are going to continue to fight like hell for equality and for safety. One in three women are victims of violence at the hands of an intimate partner. One in five women are victims of sexual assault. That is pandemic. Equality for women in every way – getting rid of rigid, antiquated gender roles and expectations, equal representation in the workplace, media, academia, and government, and closing the wage gap for goodness sake- these are essential. As long as anyone is oppressed for any reason, we will see persistent rates of poverty, violence, and preventable disease and death. Women are leading these movements and will continue to until we work ourselves out of the job, which is the ultimate goal.

Hope & Cynthia: One more question — tell us the one question we didn’t ask you and should have!

Rae: I love this question! It is my signature last question when I am interviewing subjects for research, and often where I get the richest data. I have been really into reflection and discernment these past few years, since I turned 40. Part of that is getting to know who I was, my “inner child,” as they call it, and taking care of her in ways that the adults who should have did not. So, I guess I would like the chance to answer what I would like to say to her.

I would tell her: You are safe. You are important. You are not selfish- you are incredibly compassionate and giving. You are not dumb. You are smart. I can’t wait for you to see how smart you are. You are strong. So strong. Yes, you are emotional, but that’s because you are passionate. That passion will be one of the greatest gifts you have, and it will drive all the best things in your life. I am sorry anyone tried to dim your passion because they did not understand it or found inconvenient. You matter, and one day, you will help others realize that they matter too. And you will help them find their strength and safety.

Learn more about Dr. Rae Taylor at here. And be on the lookout for more from this truly amazing woman!

Financier of the Month

The Advocate: Dr. Rae Taylor studies lethal domestic violence. Here’s what she can teach us