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‘I was exhausted, broken:’ On heels of proposed Survivor Act, rape survivor shares her journey

January 31, 2019

A Raleigh woman who survived a sexual assault is speaking candidly about her fight for justice as lawmakers prepare to introduce the Survivor Act to the General Assembly in the coming days.

The Survivor Act aims to clear the backlog of more than 15,000 untested rape kits sitting on shelves in North Carolina by putting $6 million in state funding over the next two years towards sending the kits to outside labs for testing.

Life was good for Rachael Brooks when she was 22 years old. She had graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and recently moved to Washington, DC.

But things took a turn when a man who was supposed to take her home, didn’t.

“I was taking a cab home and, unfortunately, the cab driver was not a cab driver,” Brooks said. “He sexually assaulted me in his car on the side of the road.”

Brooks, now 32, said she decided right away to report her assault. WRAL News does not normally identify the victims of sexual assault, but Brooks wanted to speak publicly about her experience.

“The rape kit took about three hours. Previous to that, I had to wait for the sexual assault nurse to get there,” she recalled. “The whole day was completely debilitating. I mean I was exhausted, broken.”

After filing the report and completing the rape kit, Brooks had to wait for a year-and-a-half.

“That period of silence was particularly difficult for me. I was just getting to the point where I had come to terms with the fact that I just wasn’t going to hear anything,” she said.

Brooks said it’s her own traumatic experience that makes her a firm supporter of the Survivor Act. The bi-partisan support for the bill leaves her hopeful, but for victims, Brooks knows every day can be devastating.

“You’re kind of in this state of purgatory where you just, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You may never have justice,” she said.

Brooks’ attacker is now in jail. She is currently working on a memoir to share her story and help other victims.

As for the 15,000 untested rape kits, the Durham Police Department has the largest backlog of untested kits with more than 1,700. The Raleigh Police Department has the second largest backlog, with 1,400 untested kits.

As for the 15,000 untested rape kits, the Durham Police Department has the largest backlog of untested kits with more than 1,700. The Raleigh Police Department has the second largest backlog, with 1,400 untested kits.

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