Amanda Nguyen

The Rise of Amanda N. Nguyen: Civil Rights of Sexual Assault Survivors

A social entrepreneur, civil rights activist, and the CEO and founder of Rise, a non-governmental civil rights organization. A description that should be enough to intrigue you. But Amanda Nguyen is the powerhouse behind proposing and drafting the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act.  This monumental bill is the 21st bill in modern U.S. history to pass unanimously through Congress. That’s not all Nguyen has also been credited with kickstarting the movement to stop violence against Asian American community. As you must have seen the viral video calling for media coverage on Asian American hate crimes. That went viral on February 5, 2021.

The unstoppable Amanda is also nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

She was also been the recipient of the 24th Annual Heinz Award in Public Policy. And been featured in the coveted Time 100 Next, Forbes 30 Under 30, lists of most influential people in the world. Another feather in her cap is receiving the Nelson Mandela Changemaker Award.

Education and career

Nguyen also has an impressive educational background which consists of a degree from the coveted Ivy League. Particularly, a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University, graduating in 2013.

To fulfill her career aspirations she interned at NASA in 2013 and has also worked at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. If this opportunity wasn’t impressive enough she also worked in the capacity of Deputy White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of State. She left her job at the State Department in 2016 to work full-time at Rise. Encouraged by her mentors during her time at NASA, she is in training to become an astronaut. Currently, she is also on the board of directors of R Street, an American conservative and libertarian think tank.

We the Future Poster
Believe Survivors

Image Source:www.fellowsblog.ted.com

Events

Unfortunately, tragedy struck in the year 2013, while studying in Massachusetts, Nguyen was raped. While Nguyen chose not to press charges immediately since she did not feel she had the necessary time and resources to participate in a trial that could potentially last for years.

To her dismay, the police officers informed her there was a 15-year statute of limitations for rape in Massachusetts. So, she decided not to press charges but to do so at a later date when she was ready. Meanwhile, she had a rape kit performed and discovered that, if she did not report the crime to law enforcement. Shockingly, her rape kit would be destroyed after six months if an extension request was not filed. Even though this was the case, she was also not given official instructions on how to file for an extension.

This experience made Nguyen consider the system to be broken, partially because the extension request would force the survivors to relive their trauma all over again. Nguyen met other survivors with similar stories and concluded that the current legal protections were insufficient. She embarked on a journey to bring about change.

Rise Foundation
Rise Foundation

Image Source: www.forbes.com

Rise: Non Profit Organization Protecting Sexual Assault Survivors

To facilitate this much-needed change, Nguyen founded a nonprofit organization named Rise. The aim of this organization is to protect the civil rights of sexual assault and rape survivors. Furthermore, Nguyen explained that the organization was named Rise to “remind us that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can rise up and change the world.” Nguyen was the head of the organization in her spare time until September 2016.

Rise is a complete volunteer organization that raises money through a popular crowdfunding platform named GoFundMe.

Nguyen’s aim is for Rise to pass a Sexual Assault Survivor Bill of Rights in all 50 U.S. states as well as on the national level. She has also traveled to Japan where a similar bill was presented.

The Sexual Assaults Survivors Rights Act
The Sexual Assaults Survivors Rights Act

Image Source:www.forbes.com

Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act

To protect survivor rights on the federal level, Nguyen met with New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen to discuss legislation in July of 2015. The Senator introduced this drafted piece of legislation to Congress in February 2016. Furthermore, to amplify and draw attention to this legislation, Nguyen partnered with Change.org and comedy website Funny or Die. This initiative was taken in part to draw as many people as possible to vote on this very important piece of legislation.

Nguyen deployed a Change.org petition that called on Congress to pass the legislation. The Funny or Die video and Change.org petition garnered support from Judd Apatow and Patricia Arquette on the Twitter platform.

As of 28 February 2016, the Change.org petition gained 60,000 of the 75,000 requested signatures. Furthermore, the petition grew even bigger as in October 2016, there were more than 100,000 signatures.

This petition was well very received which ultimately resulted in the bill being passed through the Senate in May and the House of Representatives in September.

Furthermore, it passed unanimously in both chambers of Congress and was signed into law in October 2016 by then-President Barack Obama.

The new law protects, among other rights, the right to have the evidence of a rape kit preserved without charge for the duration of the statute of limitations.

On October 12, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown approved a bill titled “Sexual assault victims: rights”.

Rise Justice Labs Cohort 2020
Rise Justice Labs Cohort 2020

                                                     Image Source: www.facebook.com/RiseNowUS/

The Impact of Rise Now

The impact of Rise Now ranges from translating ballots into different languages to making sure that survivor rights are heard. Furthermore, they also train grassroots organizers to pen their rights into existence no matter where they’re from.

The success of Rise Now can be witnessed from its impressive track record. Specifically, getting 33 laws passed impacting over 85,00,000 people all over the world and also training over 200 organizers in the community.

In addition to these efforts, Rise Now provides complete background support to bring about change. From organizing training, legislative networks to access to professional services. Mainly, lawyers, accountants, and lobbyists as well as office space and seed funding to succeed.

The Rise now site has a unique function to invite anyone to pen their rights into existence through the hopeanomics process. Let’s dive into this process in detail.

Hopeanomics process

Rise’s theory of change is built on the idea that hope is contagious. As Rise began in 2014 as an effort to bring equality to sexual assault survivors across the country and around the world. But along the way, the organization transformed into something even bigger. It became a model that empowered everyone. It made it possible for anyone to be in the driving seat of democracy, scale hope, and ultimately create impactful change.

The Hopeanomics™ organizing curriculum serves as the blueprint to drive democracy and scale hope that can easily be applied to other social issues, empowering ordinary citizens to pen their own civil rights into existence. By gamifying the process of law-making, Rise has innovated hope and democratized power.

Currently, no organization provides comprehensive social movement acceleration to assist activists in establishing a campaign, equipping boots on the ground with tools, gamifying the legislative process, and coaching grassroots efforts as they discover their voice. Until now

Rise Justice Labs is a first-of-its-kind social movement accelerator with State by State legislative reform: Survivor Bill of Rights, a Universal Survivors Bill of Rights, and Zero USA (Gun Violence Prevention).

Apply

You can accelerate and amplify your campaign and/or social movement through RISE Justice Labs acceleration. The Rise Justice Lab acts as an incubator to kickstart your campaign into high gear with the resources and networking of the organization.

Donate

As RISE runs on donations, you can show your support for the noble cause. As your donation has the power of empowering everyday citizens with the tools to innovate democracy and pen their own rights into existence.

 

Pretty Big Deal Podcast with Ashley Graham & Amanda Nguyen
Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nju_lvEWO6o

Interview with Ashley Graham

Personally, I came across Amanda Nguyen’s powerful story and work through the podcast ” Pretty Big Deal” by Ashley Graham. She is a supermodel, style icon, and barrier-breaking body activist, she sits down with some of her brilliant, inspiring, and honest friends about what makes them a Pretty Big Deal. Most importantly, absolutely nothing is off-limits in this podcast, so we get a deep dive into the work and life of Amanda Nguyen.

Amanda Nguyen with Evan Rachel Wood
Image Source: www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/Evan-Rachel-Wood-brings-Nobel-Peace-Prize-nominee-Amanda-Nguyen-Emmys

Public Statements

Nguyen made a strong statement at the globally watched 2018 Emmy Awards. She attended the ceremony with longtime supporter Westworld actress Evan Rachel Wood. Their first encounter was at the 2017 Women’s March. Moreover, later teamed up to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. They bonded over sharing their personal experiences with rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Mainly, to encourage states to pass the federal bill. A celebrity and an activist came together to make a very powerful public statement to facilitate change.

Survivor Fashion Show

Amanda reclaimed the powerful statement most commonly heard on the red carpet and fashion shows “What are you wearing?”. This statement turns to inappropriate triggering trauma for survivors of sexual assault. Most importantly, Amanda wants to reclaim that very question as both a survivor and lover of fashion.

Furthermore, when she first attended Fashion Week, she had a “light bulb moment,” her mind uttered the following:

“I realized I’d heard this question before in my life, after my rape. The exact same words, but in dramatically different contexts.”

Amanda came up with a genius idea to combine her two passions to create change. Her organization, Rise plans to produce a survivor fashion show in partnership with a United Nations campaign to amplify the impact. The Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who’s a fan of strong, empowering, and thoughtful designs by the likes of Phillip Lim, Alexander McQueen, and Dapper Dan, merged her passion and work into a success. Mainly, for survivors to get a chance to walk the runway and reclaim the statement ” What are you wearing?” And the best part is, it’s going to be survivors walking along with a celebrity ally or the first lady of their country. Consequently, for survivors to have a pillar of support when they strut their stuff on the runway. Certainly, that’s how Amanda drew the inspiration to confront this victim-blaming question, and use fashion to empower herself, as well as other survivors.

Amanda Nguyen is a revolutionary who turned her unfortunate circumstances into a ray of sunshine for survivors. Be it, men or women, everyone has a chance to legislate their civil rights into law through RISE.

Amanda Nguyen and Terry Crews Testifying before the Judiciary Committee
Image Source: www.c-span.org/video/?447596-1/terry-crews-testifies-survivors-bill-rights

Terry Crews Testimony

A noteworthy driving celebrity driving force in this movement is “Brooklyn Nine-Nine Star ” Terry Crews. Additionally, he played a vital role in testifying before the Judiciary Committee. Mainly, to help create additional civil rights protections under the Sexual Survivor’s Bill of Rights and ensure it is enacted in all 50 states. It was unanimously passed in Congress and Amanda and Terry are currently working to get it passed on the state level. The 49 year old in an emotional testimony, called out an incident with a high powered Hollywood Executive, who groped his gentials. Terry exposed the cult of toxic masculinity that exisits in society. Furthermore, the bill also focuses on providing fully goverment subsized rape kits. The reason behind doing so, is to alleviate the finacial burden to seek justice.

The main key takeaways from his testimony, are- all survivors have rights, sexual abuse is prevalent in Hollywood and beyond; he forced to opt-out of Expendables 4 as he was told to drop his case; anyone can be a victim and he took a non-violent approach for a reason. 

In conclusion, Amanda Nguyen, the name synonymous with being a civil rights activist whose work should be amplified and glorified. As it deserves the praise of each and every person alive in society. Let me know, what did you think about the work of aspiring astronaut Amanda Nguyen in the comment section down below.

“You can absolutely take parts of your life and use it to make the world a better place,”

For Amanda, fashion is just one of the many joys that inform her activism.

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