New PSA shows how rape victims are forgotten on warehouse shelves as rape kits go untested

Every 98 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. That staggering number is made even more shocking when one learns that victims often never get justice because their rape kits remain untested, sitting on warehouse shelves.

A harsh new public service announcement puts the victims in the place of their rape kits, shelving their stories while their rapists remain on the loose.

In the aftermath of a sexual assault, a victim who chooses to undergo an exhaustive and invasive forensic evidence collection examination — often referred to as a rape kit— expects the kit will be tested and the evidence used to prosecute the attacker. Victims and the public alike assume those kits are tested, when in fact there is a backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits, sitting on shelves in warehouses for months, years, even decades while perpetrators remain free to commit other sexual assaults.

The national campaign, 'Shelved,' was developed by new agency Invisible Man, founded by former Y&R creative Rachel Howald. It was created for Law & Order SVU actor Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation and its End the Backlog program, in partnership with Viacom Velocity. The PSA seeks to draw awareness to the rape kit backlog to encourage legislative reforms to improve the handling of rape kits, to eliminate the backlog, and to ensure it doesn't keep happening.

In the haunting spot, a forklift carries a woman, the personification of her rape kit, past other long-shelved victims of every age, race and gender as she describes the details of her assailant. Her voice is broken but hopeful as she says, “All those details plus the DNA, is enough evidence for you to catch him, right?...right?”

'Shelved' was directed by famed filmmaker and cinematographer, Ellen Kuras, who is best known for her work on the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and recent directing work on Ozark. In an industry where fewer than 7% of directors are women, Kuras is an unprecedented three-time winner at Sundance for Best Dramatic Cinematography and her documentary feature film ‘The Betrayal’ was awarded an Emmy Award and an Academy Award nomination for direction.

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