Thank you for turning towards this issue.

My name is Maile Zambuto and I am the Executive Director of the Joyful Heart Foundation. Joyful Heart’s mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and the shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues.

One of the issues we have been working on in recent years – in collaboration with an incredible array of advocates and public officials – is the elimination of the backlog of untested rape kits in the United States. Experts in the federal government, including the US Department of Justice and members of Congress, estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in police and crime lab storage facilities throughout the country.

In an effort to bring increased public attention to this problem, Joyful Heart launched The site is intended to offer a comprehensive view of the current state of the backlog and the various efforts underway to address it.

The rape kit backlog presents a significant barrier to justice. But it is just one way we need to improve our community response to sexual violence.

When a person is abused in anyway, it is often difficult to disclose. Victims may be concerned that they will be judged, that the person they tell won’t believe them or will consider it their fault, that there is nothing that can be done, and they would rather forget it. One way we can make it easier for survivors to come forward is to ensure that the community around them is as supportive and knowledgeable as it needs to be.

The vision of the Joyful Heart Foundation is a community that: is empowered with knowledge, courage and compassion to help survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse heal mind, body and spirit; values and dedicates resources to individuals and families that have been impacted by these issues; and seeks to ignite and foster an open dialogue about how to collaboratively end the cycle of violence and abuse.

At Joyful Heart, we envision a community that is strong enough not to turn away from the epidemics of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. We envision a community that says to a survivor, "We hear you. We believe you. We feel for you. You are not alone. And your healing is our priority."

Your presence here is an indication of your willingness to be a part of that community. I want to thank you and honor your courage and your commitment. Together, we can ensure healing and justice for survivors of sexual violence.

- Maile M. Zambuto

Executive Director, Joyful Heart Foundation

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