Founder Of Rise Sparks Conversation About Rape Survivor's Rights At MCON
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Politics and Activism

Founder Of Rise Sparks Conversation About Rape Survivor's Rights At MCON

Ordinary people create change.

Founder Of Rise Sparks Conversation About Rape Survivor's Rights At MCON
Emily Yu

Perusing headlines or flipping through news channels can leave you convinced that people are content to sit by and critique rather than act. However, a certain two days in D.C. this past week demonstrated that the headlines do not always reflect people's attitudes and willingness to create change.

Activists from all over the country attending MCON (Millennial Engagement Conference) in Washington D.C. sought to use their experiences at the conference to empower, build, and ultimately create change. These activists were not willing to settle for social injustice as the norm. They created not only open conversations but learned how to kickstart the change the world needs. MCON featured numerous amounts of compassionate and knowledgeable speakers who had aggressively identified problems within our society and then produced a powerful solution. Amanda Nguyen, President and Founder of Rise, did just that.

“I remember leaving the hospital and feeling alone.”

Amanda opened with this during her talk at MCON to recount her experience of being raped during her final semester at Harvard. Instantly, the whole atmosphere of the auditorium changed. Shifting in seats stopped, reporter’s pens paused over their paper.

Amanda looked into the crowd, trying to find the eyes that needed to hear her story most. Her next words created an audible reaction from the audience because they were filled with such love and understanding. She said, “To those rape victims in the audience: you’re not alone.”

Amanda did not use her story to create an emotional reaction but instead went on to list facts and statistics about sexual assault victims. She described how limited her options were when going through the legal process of filing a rape case. She highlighted that rape kits, which contains all forensic evidence of the case, were often destroyed after 6 months unless you were willing to pay to keep it from being destroyed, which she said could cost up to $2,000. She remarked to the audience how she had to continually fight for her rape kit to not be destroyed. Amanda described to the audience how she grew frustrated and wondered why her civil rights were not being both protected and recognized.

Amanda on stage at MCON as she presents a photo of her looking at rape kits. Each box on the shelf holds 20 rape kits. She said, "It's hard to look at."

So, she decided that she wouldn’t wait for the laws to change, she would write them.

Rise is a Millennial-driven national nonprofit working to implement a Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights federally in all 50 states. Amanda, at the age of 24 and alongside her team, passed the “Survivors Bill of Rights Act 2016” unanimously through the House and Senate. To put this in perspective, just .016% of Bills get passed unanimously through the legislature and only 20 bills in modern US history have been passed unanimously. The unanimous pass of Rise’s Act shows that protecting the rights of sexual assault survivors is something we all agree on.

“I have this theory that hope is contagious. If you present a solution, people will run with it," Amanda said as she discussed the success of the Act.

Rise has had nine laws passed unanimously, but as Amanda put it, "nine laws and counting." There are twenty-five million rape survivors in the US, which is equal to the Texas population. The rights of rape survivors are still being overlooked and Rise is determined to not stop until these rights are fully recognized.

When asked how her organization has been so successful, she simply replied, “Ordinary people create change.”

She then flashed a picture of her team which consisted of mothers, business leaders, and nurses. It was this unique team of ordinary people that helped create necessary change. Amanda’s young, 25-year-old smile shown upon the crowd as she said this and the Millennials in the room began squirming in their seats excited by someone like them who was fired up and determined to not stand by and let injustice chokehold society.

Her next words filled the room with their positive outlook. “Our generation is one of the most hopeful and compassionate generations,” said Amanda. She then followed it with a statement that echoed in the audience’s mind: “Millennials are going to save the planet and this democracy.”

She was met with well-deserved thunderous applause upon making the statement. But she wasn’t done, both in her speech and her efforts. She stressed that it is important to tell your story to others, but you must follow it with a very clear call to action. Stories impact, action changes.

Amanda closed with, “The ability of a democracy [to succeed] depends on both sides being able to hash it out.”

Rise is a powerful example that when individuals are shown the problem and the impact of the problem, bridges are extended and Americans unite. Amanda is willing to do what we all can do: Change the world.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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