In October of 2002, Julie Weil survived every mother's worst nightmare. She was ambushed in the parking lot of her daughter's church pre-school in Miami, FL with her daughter and infant son in tow. The three were driven to the remote edge of the Florida Everglades where Julie was beaten, tortured and raped multiple times at knife point in the presence of her children. Astonishingly, Julie and her kids survived the horrific attack and six months later their abductor was finally apprehended. In 2006, after a grueling four-year fight through the criminal justice system, Julie’s attacker was found guilty and sentenced to seven consecutive life sentences plus 15 years for the crimes committed against her family that day.
Julie's journey from being a victim to survivor has led her to advocate for women suffering from the effects of sexual assault all over the United States. In Florida, Julie is the survivor representative on both the Palm Beach County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and the Statewide SART, run by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence in Tallahassee. Her input directly helps the state shape policy so that it is more victim-centered. She finally saw one of her personal dreams come true by helping to set up the Butterfly House, Palm Beach County's first comprehensive Sexual Assault Exam facility, in her community in 2011. Julie travels across the country volunteering to tell her story to law enforcement agencies, State Attorney offices, medical professionals and advocates so that they have a better understanding of how coordinated community response can turn vulnerable victims into strong survivors.
As an active member of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network's (RAINN) Speaker's Bureau, Julie has been invited to testify in front of Congress about the need to improve both reporting numbers and prosecution rates for rape cases nationwide. Knowing that only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail, she is empowered to tell her story to anyone who will listen in the hopes that it will encourage women to speak out against rape and inspire legislators to pass laws that will help take criminals off the streets. Julie has also been extremely instrumental in recruiting members of both political parties to co-sponsor the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry (SAFER) Act of 2012, a bill designed to help end the backlog of untested rape kits in labs and police stations across the county. Julie is extremely passionate about the bill, which has been introduced in the House of Representatives and recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is confident that its passage will lead to both swifter justice for victims as well as safer communities.
With the hopes of helping to stop violence against women, Julie also travels around local communities and gives talks about prevention and safety to moms' clubs, pre-schools, and women's groups. She has also set-up website www.not-just-me.com to help rape victims and their families find the support that they need and to encourage women to start a dialogue about ending sexual violence. She recently won the “2010 Stamp of Courage Award” from the Office of the Attorney General and the “2012 Survivor Activist of the Year Award” from the State of Florida.
Julie is a 1993 graduate of the University of Virginia and received her Master's degree from the University of Miami in 1996. She currently resides in Jupiter, FL with her husband and two children. Julie's story is a concrete example of how a family's very personal pain can inspire progress.