One in six women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, yet only 6% of rapists ever spend a day in jail.
Julie Weil , a Jupiter mother of two, felt the pain of rape firsthand. In October 2002, she was brutally attacked in the back of her minivan while her young children were forced to watch.
Julie fought back. Her rapist is behind bars. And now, by telling her story Julie has been able to create change, here in Palm Beach County and across the country.
Below you will find key safety tips from Julie, information about the services she has helped bring to our area and how national legislation will help sexual assault kits move off evidence room shelves and into laboratories.
Basic Safety Tips from Julie Weil:
Palm Beach County Victim Services Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Team:
The Palm Beach County Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center is the only certified rape crisis center in Palm Beach County.
Through grants from the Office of Violence Against Women and the Florida Department of Health victim advocates helped 897 sexual assault victims and assisted with 142 sexual assault exams at the Butterfly House last year.
Victims of sexual assault are provided with expert care through certified and trained employees from the beginning.
Before the crisis center and the Butterfly House, when an individual was raped here in Palm Beach County, they were taken to a local hospital where they were examined. There a victim was helped by local law enforcement and hospital doctors and nurses that may or may not have been trained to help victims. While the medical staff was trained in patient care, they may not have been trained in forensic collection.
Now, there are sexual assault nurse examiner or SANE trained nurses that provide forensic rape exams and medical care for rape victims. These nurses have gone through 40 hours of SANE training, meaning they are specially trained on how to collect evidence from rape victims.
The Butterfly House
The Butterfly House, is a dream come true for Julie. When she was raped in Miami, the experience of meeting with
law enforcement and going through the rape exam was grueling. But, she said she feels lucky that people were dedicated to her case and dedicated to helping her.
When she moved to Palm Beach County soon after being raped, she was surprised to learn there was not a rape crisis center anywhere in the county. When she told lawmakers about this, they were shocked and at first did not believe her.
With the help of local lawmakers and other area victim advocates, she has been able to make the Butterfly House a reality. At the center, rape victims are taken into a private room, where they can be examined, talk with certified rape experts and police all at one time.
What makes it so special, Julie says, is the fact that there is a room for them to shower, change their clothes and begin to put their lives back together. A victim does not have to wait until they go home to shower or be transported to a police station to give their statement.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 2013:
In February 2013, President Barrack Obama signed an extension of the Violence Against Women Act into law. This law authorizes more than $650 million a year over a five year period to be spent on programs that will help the criminal justice system prosecute and respond to crimes.
The extension of the act will help pay for hotlines, transitional housing, legal assistance and law enforcement training. Some of this money can also be used to fund the testing of rape kits, something Julie helped fight for.
VAWA was originally signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994.