The National Organization for Victim Assistance and Area 23

This remarkable pro-bono campaign highlights a cruel reality that haunts many rape victims. After their attacks, they are often saddled with fistfuls of medical bills as they try and recover. And since 91% of sexual assault survivors are women, it shines an unsparing light on gender inequalities in a way that resonates powerfully in the #MeToo era.

The campaign tells victims’ stories through real medical and hospital bills that pile up in the aftermath of an assault. Those include testing for STDs and pregnancy, antibiotics, pain medication, HIV prevention and emergency contraception. Creating an online gallery of customized bills, NOVA turns the bills into print ads, posters, online videos, press releases and digital billboards. 

The ads encourage survivors to expose this burden. And it connects them to the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) for financial help. But it also brings awareness of this injustice to the general public, opening discussions about how to better serve those who are recovering from these assaults.

The campaign “elevates the conversations we are having around rape and sexual abuse,” says April Mitchell, the 2019 Chair of Judges. “Many of us personally know someone who has been a victim of sexual assault. And in today’s environment of #MeToo, there are debates on the treatment of the victims. The Rape Tax highlights the financial burden, raising awareness. I commend the National Organization of Victim Assistance for this simple and unapologetic campaign.”

It empowered rape survivors to be advocates for change. Their outrage is generating high impact — the Times Square billboard launch reached an estimated 415,000 passersby, achieving 1.5 million impressions. Calls to NOVA increased by 60% and site traffic climbed 40%. Best of all, the campaign has generated an estimated $1 million for post-rape medical treatment.