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This final episode in the 2022 Sexual Assault Awareness Month mini-season in the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Natasha Alexenko - a sexual assault survivor, advocate, author, and founder of Natasha’s Justice Project – who discusses sexual assault response reform and her recent trauma-informed advocacy efforts with refugees and Native American populations.
An introductory note indicates that as a sexual assault survivor and advocate, Natasha Alexenko has dedicated her career to improving the lives of sexual assault survivors. She has worked both nationally and internationally in discussing sexual assault response reform and her recent-trauma-informed advocacy efforts with refugees and Native American populations. In the interview, she reviews her experiences as a sexual assault survivor. After her rape at gunpoint by a stranger when she was a college student, she reported her sexual assault to police, went to a hospital, and completed a rape kit, motivated by wanting to “make sure that this dangerous person was taken off the streets and unable to harm others. “ She later learned that her rape kit remained unprocessed in a storage facility for nearly a decade. Her rape kit was eventually tested nearly 10 years later. This produced a DNA match in CODIS. The man who assaulted her was a career criminal who had committed crimes across the country and is currently in prison. Alexenko has written a book about her experiences and has promoted legislative measures across the country to address rape-kit reform and sexual-assault reform. She discusses the work of Natasha’s Justice Project, which she established in 2011, when few people were aware of the backlog of unprocessed rape kits. Her work has assisted in building support for funding to process rape kit backlogs.