No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.
Alice Walker, Author, The Color Purple
The Bystander Project is working to create long-term systemic change around sexual abuse and assault by advocating for legislation that protects victims, not punishes them. We work with other organizations and advocates to further their important work to create far-reaching change by Ending the Rape Kit Backlog, Expanding state mandated, age-appropriate sexual abuse education in public schools and Reforming the Statute of Limitations Laws in Rape and Child Sexual Abuse.
ENDING THE RAPE KIT BACKLOG
- When tested, DNA evidence contained inside rape kits is an invaluable investigative tool to solve and prevent crime. It can identify an unknown assailant, reveal serial offenders, and bring opportunities for justice and healing to survivors.
- To accomplish these things, however, rape kits must be tested. Each kit is an invaluable investigative tool to solve and prevent crime. It can identify an unknown assailant, reveal serial offenders, and bring opportunities for justice and healing to survivors.
- The rape kit backlog is a result of stretched resources, and the low priority rape kit testing is given by law enforcement. In the many jurisdictions where there is no law or policy that mandates the testing of all collected rape kits, whether or not a kit is tested is based on the discretion of police or prosecutors. There are various reasons why law enforcement may decide not to request a kit for testing, including a lack of resources necessary for testing requests.
- Untested rape kits also represent the fact that many rape cases are closed before making it very far in the criminal justice system.
Learn more about Ending the Rape Kit Backlog at www.endthebacklog.org. END THE BACKLOG is an initiative of the Joyful Heart Foundation (www.joyfulheartfoundation.org), to shine a light on—and eliminate—the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in the United States. Joyful Heart Foundation is a national organization started by actress and advocate, Mariska Hargitay in 2004, with hubs of service in New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu and recently a San Francisco Bay Committee. Joyful Heart Foundation's mission is to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever. JHF carries out it's mission in three ways: Healing, Education and Advocacy.
EXPANDING ERIN'S LAW TO ALL 50 STATES
Erin's Law requires each state to mandate the implementation of age-appropriate prevention-oriented curriculum in public schools. The goal is to equip children with the know-how to recognize sexual abuse so they can tell an adult. The program also aims to instruct school personnel about sexual abuse and the best ways to recognize and combat it. Finally, it seeks to teach parents and guardians about sexual abuse signs, as well as equip them with the necessary information needed to support victims of sexual abuse.
- According to Erin's Law's official website, www.erinslaw.org; the law has been passed and implemented in 26 states. And while some of the remaining states have more work to do than others, nearly half of the country still needs to adopt this critical law to protect our children.
REFORMING STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS LAWS IN RAPE AND CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE (CSA)
- Rape and Child Sexual Abuse are nationwide problems. The vast majority of sexual abuse never gets reported.
- Current SOL laws favor the Perpetrators over the Victims. In some states, the statute of limitations is too short for many victims, who often find the courage to speak out and confront their abuser or recover painful buried memories of abuse only after the statute of limitations has run out.
- Identifying Predators. Eliminating the SOL laws in rape and CSA allow the disclosure of the identity of previously unknown predators to the public so others will not be abused in the future. Rapists and Predators generally have more than one victim. While criminal SOLs can not be retroactive, civil SOLs can be. Publicly identifying predators could have the dual benefit of bringing justice to victims and preventing future abuse by the same perpetrator.
- Justice. Remedy the wrong done to sexual abuse survivors caused by an overly short statute of limitations that placed predators and their enablers in a preferred position to the victims and give sex abuse survivors their day in court.
Learn more about Statute of Limitations Laws Reform at our partnering organization, CHILD USA (http://www.childusa.org) is an online advocacy platform designed and overseen by Professor Marci Hamilton and her Cardozo Law School students. Through legislative updates and tools to take action, it is the most comprehensive website about Statute of Limitations for child sex abuse for the public, the media, scholars, and survivors. Here, you can find out what laws exist in your state, and contact your legislators to vote for laws that protect survivors, and give them the opportunity to get the justice they deserve.