FOUNDER OF RISE, A NATIONAL NON-PROFIT FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHTS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS
AMANDA NGUYEN is an astronaut-in-training and the founder of Rise, an organization that advocates for the legal protection of sexual assault survivors. Rise originated in Amanda’s traumatic personal story: when she was a twenty-two-year-old college student at Harvard, she was raped. Within twenty-four hours of the assault, she did exactly what she was supposed to do, going to the hospital to have a rape kit examination. Even though she took immediate action, there was no guarantee that the critical evidence would be preserved long enough to be of use. That’s because Massachusetts, where she was living at the time, keeps rape kits in evidence labs for only six months. What this means is that every six months, survivors have to fight to keep their critical evidence from the trash.
“My theory of change is that hope is contagious.”
-Amanda on how a movement is started.
When Amanda took a closer look at the laws that aim to protect victims of sexual violence, she found a truly broken system. As she told me during a recent interview, “Fighting for the civil rights of rape survivors started from a very personal place. I remember walking out of the hospital and feeling so alone. People tell survivors to go to the criminal justice system, go get help. But when I went to try to get help, I was met with a legal labyrinth. It’s quite retraumatizing to have to go through this continually and to fight to hold on to critical evidence in a violent crime—in my own rape—when other crimes are not treated this way. That’s why it is a civil rights issue. Evidence for other crimes is stored indefinitely. You wouldn’t throw away evidence in a murder case; why would you destroy evidence in a rape case? That’s where I started researching what my rights were and decided to try to rewrite the law."