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 >
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 Endthebacklog.org. 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 More >