END THE BACKLOG is a program of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a national non-profit organization founded by actress and activist Mariska Hargitay with the mission to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever.

END THE BACKLOG, the cornerstone of Joyful Heart’s Policy & Advocacy work, focuses on shining a light on the rape kit backlog in the United States. Our goal is to end this injustice by conducting groundbreaking research identifying the extent of the nation’s backlog and best practices for eliminating it; expanding the national dialogue on rape kit testing through increased public awareness, engaging communities and government agencies and officials; and advocating for comprehensive rape kit reform legislation and policies at the local, state and federal levels. Ultimately, we seek to change attitudes about sexual violence and abuse, educate the public, improve systems to lessen the trauma survivors experience and ensure greater access to justice for survivors. 

Backed by staff members who are national experts on the rape kit backlog and board members who themselves have successfully eliminated backlogs in their communities, Joyful Heart works to identify jurisdictions with rape kit backlogs and to assist them with developing and implementing survivor-centered reforms. As they move forward with clearing their backlogs, we provide guidance and expertise on best practices, such as how to re-engage survivors whose kits went untested for years or even decades, a process called victim notification. Through our ongoing research, we make information available on where the backlog exists and how jurisdictions have improved their rape kit testing policies. We work to ensure that survivors and their experiences are at the center of all reforms.

Kym Worthy alongside Mariska Hargitay at the National Press Club.


"Joyful Heart now provides us with expertise, guidance and a national perspective. They are helping to find ways to secure the funds needed to test the remaining kits and ensuring that all efforts to end this atrocity, including the creation of a victim notification process, remain victim-centered."

- Kym Worthy, Wayne County Prosecutor


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END THE BACKLOG is a JOYFUL HEART FOUNDATION initiative and a proud supporter of