Over 11,000 rape kits (sexual assault evidence collection kit) were found unprocessed in 2009 in a Detroit Police storage facility. After only 1,600 of those kits were processed, 100 serial rapists and ten convicted rapists were identified. But Detroit isn’t alone! Nationwide, there are an estimated 400,000 untested rape kits. Here’s the thing–rape kits are very important and should be processed immediately. Why? Because they help identify the rapist. Sounds pretty important, no? What in the world could account for rape kits not being processed?
It’s being reported that police departments say testing evidence is expensive and they just don’t have the resources, they’re making choices about which cases they believe are worth moving forward. Wow, so this is the swift arm of justice working to allow women who suffered through sexual abuse to feel supported? These unprocessed rape kits basically show women that their rapes are barely even blips on many police departments’ radars. Luckily, the White House recently announced they’d devote $35 million in next year’s budget to grants for processing unopened kits.
Activist, “Law and Order: SVU” actress and The Joyful Heart Foundation founder, Mariska Hargitay said, “To me, this is the clearest and most shocking demonstration of how we regard these crimes.” Hargitay has launched a project called End The Backlog to pressure cities and states to prioritize testing their kits. And thankfully, 17 states have proposed new legislation to address their rape kit backlogs.
Here’s the problem with rape kits not being processed, “One would assume that if someone endures a four-to six-hour invasive examination, that that evidence would be handled with care,” Sarah Tofte, the director of policy and advocacy for Joyful Heart, explained to ThinkProgress, “They’re making subjective judgments about whether they’re likely to get a conviction, what this rape looks like, whether the victim is credible, and what the victim’s worth to society is…Ultimately, it’s about, does this victim deserve justice?”
It’s been said that most rapists are serial rapists, therefore, processing these rape kits and identifying these rapists help in preventing future assaults. That sounds like a win-win situation. Detroit is not alone in these unprocessed rape kits–in Memphis, Tenn., alone, there are more than 12,000 untested rape kits, going back to the 1980s. In Texas, there’s about 16,000 untested rape kits. Ohio has over 3,000 unprocessed kits. SMH, this is an issue!
Here’s hoping that $35 million starts rolling out so that we can uncover more serial rapists and prevent future rapes from these criminals!
Check Out This Gallery Of Celebs Who Survived Domestic Violence:
Celebrities Who’ve Survived Domestic Violence
Rihanna and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Chris Brown had a very public breakup and domestic violence dispute in 2009. He was 19 and she was 20.
2. Kelly Rowland
In her song "Dirty Laundry", Kelly Rowland revealed for the first time ever about an abusive relationship in her past. She talks about verbal abuse and her abusive boyfriend turning her against her mother and sister, saying “Nobody love you more than me. Not your mommma, not your Daddy and not B.”
3. Tamar Braxton
Tamar admitted that she had “two boyfriends that like to beat up girlfriends” on “Braxton Family Values.” She’s gone on to say she has no regrets because those abusive relationships helped build her self-esteem and led to her marriage to Vince.
4. Halle Berry
“I saw my mother battered, and could not do anything to stop it – my father was tyrannical, lashing out at her for no reason. I felt the effects that had on our family — I’ve experienced what these women have gone through,” Berry said during a 2009 interview. “I never had to run to a shelter, but I did choose the wrong partners. Not always good men. Luckily, in recent years, I have been smart enough to hit the door when violence even becomes a possibility. That is something I will not tolerate.”
5. Claudette Ortiz
“I noticed that I think happened with me at that time, your worth is broken down, so in some situations you don’t realize the avenues that you do have to get out,” The songstress said during an interview with Hello Beautiful. “In other situations its hard to get out. People view it as ‘oh girl you can get out of that situation’ but its not that easy. When you’re afraid and then there are not that many options especially with women who are involved. I didn’t have any children with him so, thank God. Women who have children with their abusers, it’s even harder, you don’t want to remove the children, its embarrassing to some women, and then sometimes people have their opinions on how you should be handling something. Most of the time its people who have never been in the situation.”
6. Robin Givens
Givens has been very vocal about her violent marriage to former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.
7. Tina Turner
Tina Turner first opened up about her story of brutal physical abuse by ex-husband Ike Turner in her memoir, I, Tina: My Own Story.
8. Evelyn Lozada
Evelyn Lozada described her domestic dispute and divorce from former husband Chad Johnson as the darkest days of her life.
9. K. Michelle
Although some people have doubted K. Michelle’s story, the reality star and singer stands by her truth. “I had people send me hate, send me Tweets and do things to me, like I was the one who did it to myself,” she said. “I think a lot of women don’t tell their story, and men, just because you don’t know what people are going to say to you. And more and more, women are coming forward. And I think, if you go through that, you have to use it to help other people. You have to be strong.” Today, she has a partnership with the Saving Our Daughters nonprofit.
10. Whitney Houston
The late Whitney Houston detailed her abusive marriage to Bobby Brown during a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey. “He slapped me, but he was on probation for traffic violations,” she said. “You can’t slap somebody if you’re on probation. It went to domestic violence court.”
11. Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey talked about her abusive relationship with Tommy Mottola (1993-1998) during an interview with Larry King. “Abuse has several categories… emotionally, mentally, in other ways. It’s scary,” she said. “I just think you get into a situation and you feel locked in… For me to really get out of it was difficult because there was a connection that was not only a marriage, but a business where the person was in control of my life.”
12. NeNe Leakes
In her book "Never Make the Same Mistake Twice: Lessons on Love and Life Learned the Hard Way", NeNe tackles her painful childhood, the abuse she suffered at the hands of a violent boyfriend, her struggle to support her firstborn son, and her path to true love, self-acceptance, and pride. Additionally she founded The Twisted Hearts Foundation, an advocacy project that aims to make people aware about the issue of domestic violence against women.
13. Gabrielle Union
Actress Gabrielle Union has spoken publicly in the past about the attack she suffered while working the night shift at a shoe store in California when she was 19 years old. She tweeted about her own rape, saying, "Every victim/survivor of rape is unique, including how they THINK they'd like justice 2 be handed out ... During my rape I tried 2 shoot my rapist, bt I missed. Over the yrs I realized tht killin my rapist would've added insult 2 injury."
R&B singer Michel’le revealed that she was beaten by producer Dr. Dre during the course of their 90′s relationship. The domestic violence in the six year relationship (1990-1996) with Dre was apparently “very public” and she revealed she even had to have her black eyes covered in a few of her videos. She thought that it was part of a normal relationship and she saw the abuse as love.
15. Latoya Jackson
La Toya opens up about her abusive relationship with her manager and ex husband Jack Gordon in her reality series "Life With La Toya". She revealed that 'My spouse locked me in the closet ... he would beat me.' 'I knew that one day, I would be able to escape and brush myself off. That is what this show is about. It’s an extension of that and living the life you want to live.'
16. Cicely Tyson
Cicely Tyson married legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis on November 26, 1981, and they were married for three-and-a-half years. Davis’ physical and emotional abuse of Tyson has been a source of great frustration for many. And it was said that Miles also abused Francis Davis, a Broadway dancer who gave up her career to be with him.
17. Erica Mena
On her relationship with Fat Joe’s best friend Raoul, the father of her son & the video that exposed the demise of the relationship: "What you see with us is just me basically finally defending myself. It was a really a bad time. I was parting ways with that relationship and I thought I had moved on, but before you know it I was being attacked as if I was still in the relationship. It was seven years of it. It’s been a long journey for me."
18. Christina Aguilera
Christina has admitted that her Army Sergeant father Fausto made life hell for her family and she used music as an escape from the trauma of her beatings. She said: "I witnessed a lot of unpleasant things - a lot of pushing and shoving and fighting and quarrelling. Growing up I did not feel safe. Feeling powerless is the worst feeling in the world. I turned to singing as an outlet. The pain at home is where my love for music came from."
19. Keke Wyatt
"R&B Divas" star Keke Wyatt left her first husband and road manager Rahmat Morton after years of abuse, and even a miscarriage. She is also known for stabbing her ex-husband in self-defense. She is now married to Michael Ford.
20. Jaslene Gonzalez
"America's Next Top Model" winner Jaslene Gonzalez revealed her history with domestic violence on the reality show. She partnered with Liz Claiborne for the "Love Is Not Abuse" campaign, to inspire domestic violence victims to seek help.
21. Lisa Wu
Former "Real Housewives of Atlanta" star Lisa Wu spoke candidly about a violent relationship, most associate with ex-husband Keith Sweat. She said her mission was not to expose, but to show women that life can get better. Although she married Ed Hartwell, the couple have since divorced.