There can be days when you find yourself completely bewildered or disoriented by our political reality. How does real change happen in a country caught up in the latest scandal? How can our democracy work if elected officials don’t work together?
But a group of determined individuals did make the impossible happen — we got Congress to pass a landmark civil rights bill, the Survivors' Bill of Rights Act, unanimously. In fact, President Obama signed it into law on October 7. This law impacts at least 25 million sexual-assault survivors, and it's about supporting people who have been let down by the criminal-justice system.
To put it in perspective: The last time Congress passed a bill unanimously was six years ago. And since 1989, only 0.016% of bills have passed both chambers of Congress unanimously on the record, according to a Quorum analysis. That’s less than one tenth of a percent. So, yes, this feat was nearly impossible.
I remember walking out of the hospital after my rape-kit examination. I have never felt more alone in my life.
And that means a lot to those 25 million people. But it also means a lot to me. This law represents probably the only form of justice I will ever see. I remember walking out of the hospital after my rape-kit examination. I have never felt more alone in my life. I remember asking myself: Where do I go from here? To go from that moment of despair and loneliness to seeing the leaders of the nation in Congress unanimously stand up for this gives me a sense of hope.
Watching the bill pass Congress and getting it signed into law not only represented personal justice to me, but also hope that our nation can still function. Fifty-six percent of millennials consider themselves social activists.
As a result of this bill’s passing, rape survivors in federal territories will no longer live in fear that their untested rape kits may be destroyed before the statute of limitations.
Social media has lowered the barrier for young people to enter into advocacy. It gives us the tools to spread our mission in an engaging, authentic way. Along with championing our survivors' bill of rights, Rise wants to be a model for millennial advocacy and inspire collective action and fight for the issues they care about. As millennials push past Baby Boomers as the largest generation, our voice has become more important than ever. Big brands, corporations, and politicians are fighting to win our sponsorship. We can leverage that power to demand the issues we care about are at the top of the agenda.
I want people to understand that if we were able to do this, it means that anyone can change this country.
Our work is not done. Because most rape cases are adjudicated at the state level, it is important to generate momentum to carry out this work in the states. This federal bill is a model for state legislatures to adopt. Your support is necessary to put this important civil rights issue on the map, and make state legislatures across the country take notice.
Our theory of change is simple: Hope is contagious. If people see a way to create change on an issue they care about, they will join the movement. It is with extraordinary hope for this nation that I ask you to join us. It is possible for anyone to make a difference. Rise with us.