This week I sat down with activist (and future astronaut) Amanda Nguyen. After being raped in college, Amanda discovered just how few rights victims of sexual assault actually had within the criminal justice system. One horrifying example? She learned that even though Massachusetts law gives a survivor 15 years to pursue legal action (the statute of limitations), it also allows the state to destroy the rape kit within six months — unless the survivor files an extension. That extension has to be refiled every six months.
Crazy right? That, and so many other nonsensical, unjust and traumatizing legislative hoops caused Amanda to make a decision to break the silence and fight back against the system that continued to victimize rape survivors.
Thanks to Amanda and the work of many others, the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act was unanimously passed in Congress in 2016. The bill pulls together a collection of rights that exist in different states and guarantees those rights whether or not the person reports the crime or presses charges. Passing a bill like that is a very. big. deal.
In our conversation, we talk about Rise, the organization that she now runs to help other survivors, why no one should ever be pressured to tell his or her story, and why she still has every intention of becoming an astronaut. It’s enough to help even the most cynical cynic believe that anything is possible — and to always reach for the stars.