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Debbie Smith, Advocate for sexual assault victims

Born 1955.

In 1989, Debbie Smith was raped by a masked stranger in Virginia, U.S.; despite giving DNA evidence her attacker was not identified until six years later. Since then, Smith has campaigned for the elimination of delays and backlogs in DNA testing in the criminal system, and founded H-E-A-R-T, an organization that supports rape victims.

In 2004, the U.S. federal government initiated the "Debbie Smith Act," which conducts DNA analyses of backlogged DNA.

"Debbie Smith has worked tirelessly to solve the nation's rape-kit testing backlog. Thanks to her work, and the federal law named in her honor, thousands of victims have gotten justice and their rapists have been locked up. America is a safer place thanks to Debbie. We are inspired by her, and grateful for all she does for sexual assault survivors."

— Scott Berkowitz, Founder of RAINN, a support network for victims of sexual assault

Credit: Debbie and Rob Smith | H-E-A-R-T: The Debbie Smith Act