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U.S. House passes bipartisan bill named for Minnesota sex assault survivor Abby Honold

Honold has become an advocate for sex assault victims since her 2014 rape.
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A bipartisan bill named after a Minnesota sex assault survivor has passed in the U.S. House.

The bill, named the Abby Honold Act after the Minnesota native who was raped in 2014 while a student of the University of Minnesota, was introduced in the U.S. House in late 2017 by Rep. Tom Emmer, with the same bill proposed in the Senate by Amy Klobuchar.

It finally received a vote in the House on Thursday, with Honold's local representative, Rep. Ilhan Omar, among those co-sponsoring and speaking in favor of the bill.

"She has been a fierce champion of this initiative, and was the driving force behind the legislation that bears her name," Omar said.

On Twitter, Honold said: "I am ecstatic about this. This bill has been in the works since 2016, and it passed the House finally! It would establish a grant program for law enforcement to both receive trauma informed training and report back their results."

The bill introduced by Sen. Klobuchar in the Senate is still awaiting a vote.

What does the bill do?

The bill directs the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women to make competitive grants available to law enforcement agencies and victim services organizations, so they can introduce "evidence-based, trauma-informed approaches in responding to and investigating domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking."

Honold was critical of the response by local police when she reported her rape at the hands of serial rapist and fellow college student Daniel Drill-Mellum.

In the immediate wake of the attack, Honold said the investigator assigned to her case was dismissive during her interview, at a time when she was struggling to remember the exact details of the rape and remembered parts out of order – which happens commonly with victims of rape.

On Twitter this week, Honold – who is now a sex assault victim's advocate – wrote that after telling the detective she'd told her attacker to stop, he replied: "It doesn’t sound like you said the word ‘no’ - boys really understand the word no."

Her case was initially dropped by Minneapolis police, as the Star Tribune reports, until an officer with the University of Minnesota took up her case, ultimately leading to Drill-Mellum's conviction.

Honold was able to give a much better and clearer interview to a sexual assault nurse who examined her, and Honold believes that all sexual assault victims should be treated in that manner.

Also this week, Honold joined Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo as MPD announced it would be overhauling how it treats sex assault reports, so that priority is placed on the health of the victim.

You can read a full Twitter thread of Honold's experience by clicking the tweet below (trigger warning).

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