Founded by Mariska Hargitay in 2004, Joyful Heart’s mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light on the darkness that surrounds these issues.
Every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. After a sexual assault, a victim’s body is a living, breathing crime scene. Her body is examined with an ultraviolet light, photographed and swabbed for the rapist’s DNA. The invasive and often traumatic exam usually takes 4-6 hours and produces what is known as a rape kit. Today, experts estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of untested kits sitting in crime lab and police storage facilities in the U.S.
In 2010, Joyful Heart launched our End the Backlog campaign to improve sexual violence response by ending the backlog of these untested kits. To do this we will: expand endthebacklog.org, the only site dedicated to raising public awareness about this issue; partner with Detroit to help end their backlog of 10,000+ rape kits; and create victim-centered best practices that can be implemented nationwide.
We have seen that when jurisdictions end their backlogs, arrest rates double and more perpetrators are convicted. Survivors experience healing and justice, perpetrators are held accountable, and sexual violence is prevented.