Rape survivors fight back against injustice of rape kit backlog

LORTON, Va. (WUSA9) -- It is a fact that DNA that could get rapists off the streets is just sitting on police department shelves, waiting to be tested.

Some estimate that upwards of 400,000 rape victims aren't getting justice, and this makes us all less safe.

A coalition of advocacy groups and self-advocates are forming the "Rape Kit Action Project," to push for legislation. They met Friday at Bode Technology in Lorton, Virginia. WUSA9 got a rare invite inside the meeting because of a story we did on the rape kit backlog, and the injustice it brought to light.

Natasha's Justice Project, RAINN, the National Center for Victims of Crime, Bode Technology and other organizations are working together on the project. Ilse Knecht of the National Center for Victims of Crime explains, "Our goal is to promote policies and laws across the country that require accountability for rape kit evidence."

We asked Rebecca O'Connor of RAINN why the kits sit untested, "Sometimes it is money. Sometimes it's just that states don't actually even know that they have untested kits."

The representatives from advocacy organizations were surrounded by 8 brave women, all victims and survivors of violent crimes, who came from all over the country to see how their stories can help get legislation passed so no one ever has to go through what they've gone through.

Some shared their horrific, life-changing stories of rape off-camera. They learned at the meeting tools to share them on-camera. You can call them an army of advocates trying to lift the veil on injustice.

Knecht says their input is invaluable, "It's very important because what we know about offenders, especially rapists, is that they're serial offenders, we know that they commit more than one rape, they rape people that they know, they rape people that they don't know and they commit burglaries and they commit homicides. These guys are not specialists and they don't stop."

If you are interested in helping Natasha's Justice Project, there is a comedy event Saturday, October 18, 2014 at the Jack Morton Auditorium at George Washington University that you can attend. Tickets can be purchased here: http://bit.ly/105go77.


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