If you have not heard of Amanda Nguyen, it’s time we introduce you to this female powerhouse and activist who is changing the future for survivors of sexual assault, and for women everywhere. In a time of #metoo and a time when women are tired of suffering in silence, Nguyen is using her voice and her power to take change into her own hands.
Amanda Nguyen is a rape victim, but more importantly, she is a survivor. And while many people might assume that the actual act of sexual assault and rape is the most traumatic part of that experience, Nguyen found that the aftermath of her rape was equally damaging.
In 2013, Nguyen was Raped in Massachusetts
While she was a student at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Nguyen was raped. But because of her personal circumstances at the time of the rape, she did not report the crime. Shortly after her assault, Nguyen was a Deputy White House Liaison for U.S. Department of State living in Washington D.C., and her schedule and resources made it difficult for her to report the incident.
But she had time to report the crime — the statute of limitations to report a sexual assault crime and bring charges against an assailant was 15 years. Unfortunately, the rape kit, which is performed immediately after the crime and contains crucial genetic material and evidence from the crime, can legally be destroyed in just six months if the crime is not reported, according to Massachusetts law. Which means that while a victim still has an opportunity to report the crime, the invaluable evidence that may be able to identify and convict the criminal will be destroyed, unless you do something about it. Talk about a twisted criminal justice system.
Even more baffling, those statutes of limitations differ from state to state, so while it is six months in Massachusetts, it is only 30 days in Florida. As if being a victim of sexual assault isn’t traumatic enough, but then victims have to worry about protecting their rape kits in addition to caring for themselves, healing and pressing charges against their attacker. Nguyen is working hard to transform and standardize the way that rape cases are processed, and the ways that rape victims are treated by the justice system.
She Founded Rise, a National Civil Rights Organization
As a result of personally experiencing the severe shortcomings of the criminal justice system after her rape, Nguyen took matters into her own hands. She founded Rise, a nonprofit organization that fights to protect rape survivors, who are “continually re-victimized and betrayed by our country’s failure to make good on these promises,” she explains on Rise’s website.
According to the site, America “lacks baseline procedures for rape survivors depriving millions of Americans basic liberties.” Liberties such as access to one’s medical records or the police report from their crime. Liberties such as having their rape kit protected until the statute of limitations for the sexual assault has ended. There are irregularities in survivors’ rights from state to state and overall she found a blatant disregard for victims’ rights. But Rise is working to change all of that.
They are helping victims pen their own civil rights into existence by training people to stand up for their rights and educating them on how to influence legislation and create change. They are empowering survivors, working to protect victims rights and change the way the American justice system works to benefit everyone, especially rape victims.
“No one is powerless when we come together. No one can make us invisible when we demand to be seen.”
In 2016, She Drafted the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights
The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights was written and introduced to Congress in February of 2016. It protected a victim’s right to not have their rape kit destroyed before the statute of limitations is up, in addition to not requiring that a victim of sexual assault pay for her own rape kit. Shockingly, before this bill, victims had to pay for their own examinations and evidence collection, something that not even criminals had to pay for. The bill also required that survivors have access to their rape kits and medical records, and that they are given 60 days notice before their rape kit will be destroyed so they have enough time to access and protect their medical information.
Just eight months after being introduced to Congress, the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights was passed unanimously through Congress and signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama. This is a huge accomplishment no matter how you look at it, but even more impressive, this is only the 21st bill in modern U.S. history that has passed unanimously without any opposition. “The statistic for that is .016 %,” Nguyen proudly declared at the 2018 Women@Forbes Kickoff to the Forbes Under 30 Summit.
The goal of the federal bill was to inspire states to follow suit and pass similar versions of the bill on a local level. To date, 14 states in the U.S. have passed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, and Rise is on the ground working across the country and in other countries to pass the Survivors’ Bill of Rights.
Nguyen Was Nominated For the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize For Her Work
In recognition for her work with Rise to pass the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, Nguyen was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018. The nomination was clearly a huge honor, one that only 16 women have achieved in the 117-year history of the Nobel Peace Prize. Nguyen’s work has only begun, but her influence is already empowering and impacting survivors around the world. As she explains, “no one is powerless when we come together. No one can make us invisible when we demand to be seen.”