Who I’m Turning To: Amanda Nguyen

In my previous article, “Who I’m Turning To: Maria Shriver,” I promised to write about inspiring people I turn to when I am in search of hope, and today, I am choosing to discuss Amanda Nguyen, a rape survivor and the CEO of Rise, an organization that protects the rights of sexual assault and rape survivors. A true inspiration, Nguyen has passed a total of 27 laws for 72 million people with the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights that was passed by Congress in 2016. That said, she hopes to continue moving forward in the fight for justice and for it to finally be served to those it has failed for centuries. 

In 2013, Amanda Nguyen was raped as a college student in Massachusetts. Following her traumatic incident, she soon went to a local rape crisis center, and from there, she quickly realized the injustice for rape survivors in that if she did not report her case to law enforcement, her rape kit (the collection of evidence following a statement of sexual assault) could be destroyed after six months even though the statute of limitations for rape in Massachusetts was 15 years, be if she didn’t file for an extension that could possibly be denied by law enforcement.

Therefore, the fact that her rape kit could be destroyed far before the statute of limitations expired infuriated her because if she chose to report her case to officials after the six-month limitation, the chances of Nguyen winning her case would be minimal to none, as without a rape kit, there is such little evidence that could help her win in court. Nonetheless, she recognized that the criminal justice system favored the rapist over the survivor.

However, despite her realization, she saw two options in front of her: accept injustice, or rewrite the law, and be it that one option is far better than the other, she chose to rewrite the law. 

In order for a long story to be short, as of October 7, 2016, Amanda Nguyen has changed the lives of millions of sexual assault survivors with the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights. In this bill, it is stated that survivors must be notified of their rights, receive free rape kit examinations, have their rape kit preserved for the same duration as the statute of limitations (this varies state by state), and be notified before their rape kit is destroyed.

Believe it or not, before this bill was passed and signed into law, rape kits could cost as much as $2000 in some states, which is absolutely ridiculous if you ask me.

Also, I believe it is important to mention that the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights was the 21st bill in modern U.S. history to have a unanimous vote, and this is significant because both Republicans and Democrats were able to set aside their differences and come together for something that is so unfortunate and affects the lives of too many people, and if you think about it, that thought alone is something amazing to think about that can bring people some kind of hope. 

Fortunately, with the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, survivors are guaranteed the justice they deserve. Additionally, if they choose to bring their case to trial, survivors have a far greater chance at winning because the evidence from their rape kit can be used in supporting them.  So, the reason I turn to Amanda Nguyen when I am in need of hope is not necessarily because of what she has done, but because she is proof that it is not what happens to you, but it’s about what you do with what happens. Indeed, what happened to her is horrible and traumatic, and it is even worse to think that rape is something that happens to too many people in this world.

That said, she shows that from our experiences, there can be fires that spark within us and encourage us to begin making the changes we want to see in the world. Also, the thing too is that those changes aren’t only going to inspire us or change just our worlds; they can change other peoples’ as well. 

Amanda Nguyen has changed the lives of millions of rape survivors, and it is because of her and others at Rise who have worked for change and to give them the knowledge that there is someone out there who is fighting for them and believing in them to know that they are believed and their experiences are valid. 

All in all, I hope this article inspired you or gave you just a little hope, but as I’ve said before, if not, that’s okay too. However, for one last thought: what is something you would want to see change in the world or something you’d fight for?  Maybe you’re the change somebody needs.