Rape survivor pushes for better police training with help of Sen. Franken

Abby Honold was sexually assaulted while a student at the U of M.
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Sen. Al Franken is pushing for a new bill to better help survivors of sexual assault, all thanks to Abby Honold

When Honold was 19, she was raped by a man who had interned for Franken. It was a high-profile case that happened at the University of Minnesota in 2014.

The man went to prison last year, and Honold turned to Franken to make sure other victims don't have the same experience she did after reporting the rape. 

When she was being interviewed by police after the rape, she said her "brain was working on autopilot," so it was a struggle for her to give the account in chronological order like the investigator wanted, Honold explained during a news conference Thursday, according to WCCO.

"I felt myself mentally shutting down and not wanting to talk about it anymore," she said, according to MPR News. "I just wanted it to be over and I just wanted to go home."

Franken's Senate bill would establish federal grants for law enforcement training that will focus on how first responders and investigators interview potential victims. 

Honold credits the forensic nurse who worked with her at the hospital for helping put her rapist behind bars for multiple assaults. 

The nurse – using a technique called Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) – asked Honold about what she smelled and tasted. This method helped her remember more details about the rape. 

FETI started in the U.S. Army. And over the summer, the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA) got a grant to train law enforcement agencies in this technique for free. 

Franken's bill, which he plans to introduce in a few weeks, would expand that training to law enforcement and first responders across the country, FOX 9 reports

Sexual assaults 

Most sexual assault victims never tell police about what happened. 

In fact, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center says rape is the most underreported crime, even though the agency says 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. 

RAINN says only 344 of every 1,000 sexual assaults end up being reported to law enforcement. 

Victims don't report sexual assaults to police for a variety of reasons. From 2005-2010, some of the top reasons given by victims included feeling as if the police would not – or could not – do anything to help, according to RAINN.

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