10 June 2022
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Advocates and state leaders are celebrating a new law named for a Minnesota rape survivor. It’s designed to improve how law enforcement responds to cases of domestic violence and sexual assault.
In Congress, Minnesota leaders pushed it over the finish line, thanks to one woman’s courageous fight to improve the process of reporting for survivors.
Abby Honold called 911 after she was raped by another student while attending the University of Minnesota eight years ago.
“I was traumatized, I was a teenager,” Honold said.
But she says the response that followed intensified her pain. The police officer dispatched, she says, wasn’t trained on how to handle a case like hers with care.
“If I had received a caring response from the beginning I think a lot of that trauma would’ve been lessened for sure,” Honold said.
Honold fought for years after attack to ensure better police response for other survivors. The Abby Honold Act that passed Congress is the culmination of that work, creating a federal grant program for law enforcement to implement trauma-informed trainings in departments across the country and improve response to sexual assault crimes.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar led the effort in the U.S. Senate.
“The victims and survivors of these crimes show incredible courage coming forward and we must treat them with the utmost respect in the investigative process,” Klobuchar said.
The effort was cheered by advocates and Mendota Heights Police Chief Kelly McCarthy, who says the step by Congress is significant for law enforcement in Minnesota.
“We’re one step closer to having that training and making it easier for departments to have that,” McCarthy said.
And for Honold, a legislation in her name represents turning pain into purpose.
“To be able to take by far the worst thing to ever happen to me in my life and to be able to make something out of that … even if one survivor is helped by this, it would be worth it,” Honold said.
The provisions were included in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. It was a bipartisan effort that also got support from Republican Rep. Tom Emmer.
Klobuchar says grants will be funded at the end of the year.