Founder, Advocate, & Activist
Meet Amanda Nguyen, a woman who is making her mark on the United States’ legal system and paving the way to civil rights for sexual assault survivors. Taking action after her own assault and experience with the justice system, Nguyen has brought together a community of advocates and survivors, providing a platform to reclaim power and agency. Her organization, Rise, seeks to make meaningful changes in an unfair and faulty system that has historically undermined survivors’ civil rights. Rooted in support and solidarity, Rise and Nguyen’s mission combat rape culture and the ineffectual legal system that perpetuates it. Sharing her work and beliefs with us, Nguyen is hopeful for a just and safe future.
Can you tell our readers about Rise and its mission?
Rise empowers grassroots rape survivors and allies to pen their own civil rights into existence. We did this by drafting, organizing, and passing the Survivor Bill of Rights through Congress unanimously, in a historic 7 months, a feat only 0.016% of bills have done in modern US history. In 2016, hundreds of thousands of people reached out saying they want to take our model bill and pass it in their home States. Over the past months, we have been organizing and developed Rise campaigns in 25 states ready to fight for these civil rights, including New York State. We are primed to scale up and solidify the movement across America.
In what ways has your story encouraged other survivors to talk about sexual assault?
The most meaningful part of Rise has been the outpour of support from both survivors and allies. It is important to me that people are able to be empowered to speak up about their experiences. It is also absolutely ok for people not to feel the need to share - talking about rape can be scary. I have heard from survivors across America and the world that Rise has given them hope.
Sexual assault on women of color is often ignored or more dangerously, normalized. What is Rise doing to help women of color navigate the legal system?
Inclusivity is a cornerstone of our policy planning. Our mission is to protect and codify civil rights so that everyone, regardless of gender, color, social economics, can have equal rights under the law.
What other ways do you envision survivors' rights to be secured, if not through the legal framework?
Fighting rape culture and securing civil rights for survivors can take any form. The strength of Rise is through the diversity of professional experiences that Risers (Rise volunteers) bring to the table. You can sing about why you think this is bad. You can help us code a platform that informs people of their rights. There is a limitless field to what anyone can do to contribute to this movement and we invite everyone to go to Risenow.us to sign up to do so.
What does healing look or feel like to you?
Healing is different for everyone. My justice is through penning my own civil rights into existence and making sure that no one has to go through what I went through with the justice system.
How have the communities you belong to supported you in ways that the legal system has not?
The legal system can be institutionally discriminatory towards survivors.
In your eyes, what is an ideal system?
One that is fair and equal to all.
How do you prefer to define yourself in a world that is constantly trying to label people who have experienced sexual assault or belong to a marginalized community?
I am a pathological optimist. I believe in engaging in our democracy to fight for our rights, whether that be as a survivor, a citizen, a government official or an astronaut.