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.
Many times over the course of the last couple of weeks, people have approached me regarding the passage of legislation expanding the New York State DNA Databank. Some have been congratulatory, some have been concerned, but, mostly, a great many have simply had more questions than anything else. To the ordinary person, DNA is something that you hear about on TV crime dramas or read about in biology class. Unfortunately, I didn’t come about my knowledge of DNA through either of those modes but, rather, through circumstances that I would give anything to change.
Eleven years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom, raising my children—two sons and two daughters—and living a rather ordinary life. That all changed in the More >
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.
“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand: there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend; some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold.” –Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
J. R. R. Tolkien has a knack for putting thoughts into words that I, alas, do not. How could I possibly put into words my journey and all the events that brought me to where I am today?
In 1993 I was violently raped, sodomized and robbed at gunpoint by an unknown assailant. When I escaped and thankfully found myself in my apartment, my roommate insisted that I go to the hospital. I agreed to wait for an ambulance, even though my first instinct was to take a shower. I am so very grateful today that I made that choice.
In the early 1990s, DNA More >
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.
Then, in the middle of our introduction to one another, Stephanie said: “After this experience, I don’t feel safe anymore. I am a tough girl, but it made me feel like if something happened, the law isn’t there for me. It doesn’t really work.”
Stephanie was talking about the fact that the DNA evidence, known as a “rape kit”—collected over a period of hours in the emergency room with medical personnel examining her entire body—had never been tested. Her rapist had never been interviewed by the police or arrested. And now, two years later, she was trying to come More >
We’re continuing our features of stories from survivors of rape and sexual assault who have been affected by the backlog of untested rape kits. Today, Michelle share’s her story. We thank her and want honor her courage in sharing what she has experienced.
I wanted to share my story, to help add a sense of reality of the impact of the backlog on rape victims.
I was raped in 1984 by two men during a home invasion in Boston. They had a knife; I was blindfolded, raped repeatedly by both of them, tied up with a phone cord, gagged, and eventually left alive, much to my surprise. Perhaps it was the blindfold that saved my life. As I begged the men not to kill me, one of them said, “We don’t kill people. We just need the money. We’ve been doing this for seven years.” They were unafraid and unapologetic. They told me their first names; they did not wear gloves.
They left fingerprints all over the apartment, and I submitted to a rape kit thinking that this would help catch the men who did this.
The police interviewed me once. I called about a month after the attack and was asked by the More >
Nothing expresses the impact of the rape kit backlog like the words of the women and men affected by it. Today, we share Helena’s story. We thank her and want honor her courage in sharing her experience.
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.
After being held captive for hours, I convinced him to let me free. He threatened to kill my family if he heard a report of the crime on his police scanner, or saw his picture in the paper. He took my license so he’d know where I lived and promised that, one day, he would come back and make me “his girlfriend.”
After I flagged down a police cruiser and was taken to the hospital, I sat on a metal table for hours, where I endured the harrowing evidence collection process and disclosed every last humiliating detail of my assault to indifferent detectives.
Several days later, my VW was returned to me covered in handprints, the shape of my body imprinted in the dusty hood, where More >