Dedicating her life to helping survivors of sexual assault find justice was not something Amy Pollpeter had always planned for. At the age of 16, after being bullied at school and needing a shoulder to cry on, she was raped by an acquaintance in his basement while his mother sat upstairs grading papers.
Fast-forward to 20 years later, after many years of healing through church and community. Pollpeter is now a criminalist for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Crime Lab, helping survivors get the justice they deserve. As a forensic scientist, she works on all kinds of cases, but says sexual assault forensic exam kits take up the majority of her time as they take the longest to process.
“All aspects of my job are very rewarding, but I get a lot of satisfaction when I can get justice for a survivor,” says Pollpeter. “I know that I’m making a difference for these people. People in small towns of Iowa and small towns around the country think that sexual assault doesn’t happen there. In reality sexual assault does happen here and it knows no boundaries. I see sexual assault from victims in all cities and towns and of all ages. It can happen to anybody.”
“I decided to join the RAINN Speakers Bureau because this crime had silenced me for nearly 15 years, and still silences many others. So many survivors feel like they are totally alone in the world. I realized I had a voice and by speaking I could not only raise awareness about this too-often unspoken-of crime, but also let other survivors know that they are not alone and provide hope with the knowledge that you can heal from it. The work that RAINN does is so important and encouraging – I am proud to be a part of it.”
Preserving DNA evidence can be key to identifying the perpetrator in a sexual assault case and in proving that the crime took place. Learn more about the importance of DNA.
The Debbie Smith Act provides funding to state and local law enforcement agencies to perform DNA tests on evidence they collect from rape crime scenes. The act is up for renewal in 2014 and has been introduced as part of S.822, the Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2013. S.822 will renew the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant program and help us assess and reduce the backlog of untested DNA evidence from open rape cases (commonly known as rape kits) and bring perpetrators to justice.