May 2012

Senators Launch Bipartisan
Effort to End DNA Backlog

Senator Cornyn
Sen. Cornyn

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Houston Mayor Annise Parker (D) today called on Congress to pass the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act to help eliminate the national backlog of untested DNA evidence from unsolved rape cases. “For far too long untested rape kits have been piling up due to limited resources prescribed by antiquated laws, denying justice and compounding the pain for an untold number of victims in cities across Texas and the nation,” said Cornyn at an earlier press conference in Houston.

Sens. Cornyn and Michael Bennet (D-CO) last week introduced SAFER in the Senate with strong bipartisan support (and the strong support of RAINN). Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Al Franken (D-MN), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are original cosponsors of the Senate bill. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Ted Poe (R-TX) are the lead sponsors of the House bill.

For years, RAINN has led the national fight to provide victims with the justice they deserve, working with Congress to pass and fund the Debbie Smith Act, which has helped take thousands of rapists off the streets. “The SAFER Act builds on the success of the Debbie Smith Act and is the vital next in eliminating the DNA backlog,” said Scott Berkowitz, RAINN’s president.

RAINN Speakers Bureau member Lavinia B. Masters, who was raped in Dallas in 1985 at the age of 13, shared her story at today’s press conference. Masters’ rape kit sat untested for more than 20 years. When it was finally tested in 2006, the DNA profile from her kit was linked to a serial rapist who had committed multiple sexual assaults, including the rape of an elderly woman.

Express your support for SAFER by contacting your members of Congress.

ABC Family’s Make It Or Break It Tackles a Difficult Issue
make it or break it

In the final two episodes of the season, ABC Family’s hit drama, Make It Or Break It, revealed that one of the main characters was sexually abused by her former gymnastics coach. RAINN partnered with ABC Family and the show’s producers; following the episodes, Make It Or Break It’s official blog offered information about sexual assault, self-care tips and more:

You may not have been assaulted yourself, but you may know a friend who has been. There is so much you can do to help. If your friend confides in you that they have been sexually abused, make sure that you are there for them… RAINN’s website provides helpful information on how to help a loved one through this experience... And remember, it’s NEVER too late to get help.

RAINN’s Celebrity Auction: Recap
rainn auction

An FBI seal, fresh from USA’s White Collar set, and the script of the pilot episode of AMC’s Mad Men, signed by the show’s cast and creator, highlighted an auction of celebrity items this month to benefit RAINN. The auction was arranged by Online Hotline volunteer Rob Zorella.

Other auction items included an autographed pilot scripts from NBC’s 30 Rock, a large gift basket from ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, and a signed Kate Spade purse from Christina Ricci’s private collection.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of the cast members and producers who contributed to this auction, and to Rob for making it all happen,” said RAINN’s president, Scott Berkowitz. “The money it raised will go directly to help survivors through the Online Hotline.”

Hold Your Horses!
rainn em in

Seattle RAINNmaker Jen Shipe organized a group of supporters last weekend for the ‘First Annual Human-Powered Horse Race’ — a boisterous, novel event to raise funds and awareness for survivors of sexual violence.

During the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes, more than 150 people turned out to Fred Wildlife Refuge to watch the race on the big screen. But they also showed up to wager on a live, more ‘amateur’ race: one run atop inflatable toy horses. Watch the human-powered horse race here!

Thanks to Shipe, guests enjoyed many laughs, but also had the opportunity for serious reflection as speakers discussed sexual violence prevention and awareness.

Paige Denim’s RAINN Blue
RAINN blue wash

Paige Denim’s new line, RAINN Blue, is in stores and online now! As seen in InStyle and People StyleWatch, RAINN Blue is available in four styles: the Silverlake Short, Vermont Jacket, Kylie Crop, and Lou Lou, and is available in Paige stores in Los Angeles and New York, boutiques nationwide and online. 20% of the proceeds will be donated to RAINN.


 RAINN in the News

dear abby “If you and your sister haven’t had counseling to come to terms with what happened to you, please consider contacting the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). The website is, and the toll-free number is (800) 656-4673.” — Dear Abby

forbes logo “Scott Berkowitz, the president of RAINN, says that while data on reported incidences of rape is often unreliable, researchers and advocates have historically seen higher rates of sexual violence in native communities.” — Forbes

sun sentinel “It's a hard issue to talk about, but so was breast cancer once. Our long-term goal is to get to the point where rape is [understood as] a crime and there [is] no shame attached to it.” — Andi Bottner in the Sun Sentinel.

Lawmakers Making a Difference
Sen. Bennet
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)

“Victims of violence shouldn’t have to wait for justice. Unfortunately, the current rape kit backlog forces them to do just that—and sometimes it prevents justice altogether. That’s simply not acceptable. The SAFER Act will target the backlog and strengthen the tools available to law enforcement so they can work more quickly and efficiently to bring offenders to justice. I look forward to continuing to work with RAINN to move this critical piece of legislation forward.” — Sen. Michael Bennet

Sen. Mark Kirk
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)

"Every two minutes someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. Victims deserve justice, not further victimization by the system designed to protect them. The state of Illinois faces a horrific rape kit backlog with just 6% of reported rapes having kits tested over the past decade. The SAFER Act will give law enforcement nationwide better capabilities to track sexual assault cases and prevent these vicious crimes. Organizations like RAINN provide essential support and services to sexual assault victims and it is important that we continue to work with RAINN to raise awareness on this important issue." — Spokesperson for Sen. Mark Kirk

More News
A Bat Mitzvah Mission

Twelve-year-old Kelsey Hirsh of Schwenksville, PA, will have more than one reason to feel accomplished this fall. When she is bat mitzvahed in September, Kelsey will also have raised thousands of dollars and awareness to fight sexual violence.


Prompted by allegations of abuse at Penn State, Kelsey decided to channel the community service component of her bat mitzvah preparation towards helping survivors.

With the support of her father, Charles, she created Bands4RAINN. The wristbands, designed by Kelsey herself, bear the slogan: “HOPE. COURAGE. STRENGTH.” and have raised more than $3,500 for RAINN to date.

Buy yours today for just $3!

A 2,650-Mile Modern Love Story


After being sexually assaulted in college, RAINNmaker Aspen Matis set out on a cross-country hike to restore her spirit. Along the way, she found acceptance and love. She walked 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada and raised funds for RAINN to help others with stories like hers. Aspen’s story of hope and perseverance was featured in the Modern Love column of the New York Times.

Aspen’s hike is over, but there’s still time to help her reach her fundraising goal. Learn more about her journey and her campaign to help survivors.

Spotlight on the Speakers Bureau: Sharra Smith
Sharra Smith

“As a speaker for RAINN I get the opportunity to reach many people looking for a light. I don't care if I am talking to one or 100 people — just being able to make a difference is a great honor that I take very seriously. I get to remind society that my one voice will turn to thousands and that we will not go silently in the night any longer.”

Learn more about becoming a member of RAINN's Speakers Bureau

Online Hotline Spotlight: Annie Levin, Assistant Shift Manager
Annie Levin

“Being a staffer allows me to help others while getting a lot in return in terms of training and learning how to work with trauma populations. It also means I am lucky enough to be a part of the awesome Online Hotline family and to have met so many great people.”

Learn more about volunteering for RAINN

Join RAINN on Facebook!

facebookTo get the latest news from RAINN about current issues, ways to get involved, and other information, join RAINN's Facebook page!

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