Working in the States to Champion Change

RAINN’s public policy team is working in key states in 2021 to improve support for survivors and champion changes in policy to help more survivors get justice.

RAINN’s team of lobbyists is at work in five state legislatures: Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, and Virginia, partnering with local sexual assault prevention advocates, sexual assault coalitions, prosecutors, law enforcement associations, and survivors.

“A coordinated effort is crucial to making change at the state level,” says RAINN’s vice president of public policy, Camille Cooper. “It’s critical to connect with local leaders and advocates so that lawmakers can understand the very real impact of their decisions on their communities. The members of the RAINN Speakers Bureau also play a critical role by sharing their experiences in testimony and with local media.”

Among the issues, the team is working on are bills to:

  • Eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for sex crimes, including rape and sexual assault.
  • Increase the availability of sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs).
  • Require trauma-informed victim interview training for law enforcement.
  • Institute a system for tracking rape kits.
  • Implement statewide sexual assault response protocols.

“Each state has its own unique circumstances and laws,” Cooper says. “But there are some common threads through all this work–making sure survivors have access to survivor-centered, trauma-informed care and law enforcement response, and making sure they are able to pursue justice should they choose to. We know healing from sexual assault is not linear and we want to make sure survivors have the option to pursue justice when they feel ready to do so.”

In 2020, RAINN helped pass 10 bills in five states to improve laws for survivors, including legislation in Virginia to create a state coordinator for SANE services and require hospitals to provide treatment or transfer services to survivors seeking forensic exams.

“These efforts make a real difference for survivors of sexual assault every day,” Cooper notes. “Imagine going through the worst experience of your life and going to the hospital only to be told there is no one who is trained to help you. It happens every day, and we want to fix that.”

You can read more about RAINN’s policy work here. To stay updated, sign up here or follow us on Twitter at @rainnaction.

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