Behind the rape kit backlog is cultural misunderstanding of sexual assault. Too often, victims who report to law enforcement are belittled, harassed, disbelieved, dismissed.
I am a survivor of an extremely violent sexual assault. I will always live every day in deep gratitude that I am still alive to even tell my story.
Even then, it can solve and prevent crimes.
A courageous survivor named Helena and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy appeared alongside Mariska Hargitay to shed light on the backlog. Helena waited 14 years for justice. Worthy is working to address the backlog of over 11,000 in Detroit.
As part of Joyful Heart Foundation's 6th Annual Gala, Audrey Polk took to the stage to share her story.
Ann M. is the mother of a survivor who was raped when she was just 12 years old in her own home. Her family had to wait ten years for the perpetrator’s arrest. Ann, along with other courageous survivors, played an integral role in advocating for the recent passage of a law expanding New York State’s DNA Databank to include samples from offenders convicted of all crimes. We thank her for sharing her story and giving a voice to survivors across New York.
We’re continuing our feature of stories from survivors of rape and sexual assault who have been affected by the backlog of untested rape kits. Today, Natasha shares her story with us. We thank her and honor her courage in sharing what she has experienced.
A young woman, Stephanie (not her real name), came to see me in my New York office. She had been raped in Chicago two years earlier, and had heard from an advocate there for rape victims that I was writing a report on untested DNA evidence from rape cases in Illinois. I took her for coffee so we could get to know each other before I interviewed her, and we talked about her teaching job, her move to New York City and my new son.
"I wanted to share my story, to help add a sense of reality of the impact of the backlog on rape victims."
"For my 17th birthday, in 1996, my mom gave me a vintage VW Rabbit. Days later, at a self-service car wash practically in view of my home, a stranger approached me and forced me into the car at knife point, instructed me to drive to several locations, and repeatedly assaulted me."