An Oral History of the Crime Victim Assistance Field
Video and Audio Archive

Marty Goddard
Biography & Interview Summary

Picture from Marty Goddard
Interviewee:Marty Goddard;
Phoenix, AZ
Date of Interview:February 26, 2003
Location:Sacramento, CA

Marty Goddard


Marty Goddard has been a victim advocate for over 30 years, and is credited with developing the rape kit protocol.

Initial Involvement in the Crime Victims' Movement

In 1972, Marty Goddard began working for a small family foundation in Chicago that provided seed money for community organizations "that other corporations and foundations would not touch with a 20-foot pole." Through this experience, she joined the Board of Directors of the National Runaway Switchboard Metro Help organization, where she found out that "many of these kids were leaving" as a result of sexual abuse. As one of the few women working in foundations then, Goddard was invited to address a group of women in Chicago. As she describes:

"Frankly, my jaw dropped. I saw after an hour.....there were two distinct groups of women in that room. The most vocal and the largest used terms such as 'cops are pigs, prosecutors are pigs, we've gotta' do something, the area is bad.' And the other one was very quiet and very self-assured and composed, and whatever they contributed was very low-key -- 'let's see what we can do about the area; we need to do some research, find out what the problem is and what can we do to address and fix the problem.' The divide was so great that after the meeting, I asked the second group, 'Could I have your name and your telephone number?' "

She then joined with Dr. Cynthia Porter Erie, an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago on a mission that would take them to cities across America. Goddard and Erie would conduct "cold calls" on local law enforcement agencies, and ask "to talk to someone who could tell us what's happening in your city and state regarding victims of rape. How are they handled? Do you have any brochures?" She describes then joining forces with Cook County States Attorney Bernard Carey and Police Sergeant Rudy Nimocks to address the problem of providing services for victims of rape and, in particular, the need to obtain quality medical evidence to prosecute rape cases:

"What is the problem? The problem was we weren't able to apprehend very many people and when you did get somebody in custody, you couldn't prove your case. So then what do you do to solve that problem? First thing you do is you want to develop a way to collect trace evidence. And we beat our heads against the wall and we visited each other's agencies and by the time we got to the crime lab--which eventually became my second home -- at the Chicago PD, we talked to all the employees, didn't matter what level, and said 'what is it that you people need.?'..... They said 'Marty, we don't get evidence.' Sometimes people try and they take two slides with swabs from say the vagina or the mouth and or the rectum. They put it on the slides. They make the slides. They rubber band 'em together in there face to face. So there goes that. It's worthless. It's just absolutely worthless. We don't get hair. We don't get fingernail scrapings....we don't get decent clothing evidence. And they would take scissors....and just cut off clothes.

"And if you don't have replacement clothes and you're going to take the patient's underwear and jewelry and shoes and nylons and slip and their dress and their coat in the winter in Chicago, that's what happened, and put 'em in bags, turn 'em over to the crime lab, well excuse me, but what is she supposed to go home in? And not everybody wanted to tell their mom or their husband or their roommate that they had just been raped, so a lot of people wouldn't call."

Interview Summary

Context of the Era

In 1975, Goddard incorporated the Citizens Committee for Victim Assistance and began to raise funds for this effort. She describes gender barriers that existed because at the time, most of the corporate and philanthropic power was held by men,

"and they didn't get it. They didn't understand, and I understand because that was my Dad's didn't say the word 'rape' -- not in public and not in private. You didn't say, in those days, 'incest' just didn't talk about that stuff."

She also describes the amazing grassroots efforts promulgated by individuals in cities across America, who were just beginning to build connections to one another, often through reading a news article about a victim or victim advocate in another state. "Creating positive change" became Goddard's motto: "Do not contribute to the problem. Contribute to the solution."

Greatest Challenges

Goddard described numerous challenges in developing the initial protocol for the rape kit. "Nobody would give me the components, the combs and the slides and the swabs and the mail folders and the paper bags and the printing materials and the box....and I didn't have any money." To the chagrin of many feminists in the field, the initial support and funding came from the Playboy Foundation. Goddard humorously recalls that a cadre of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) joined her staff at the Playboy Foundation to create the first rape kits for distribution in Illinois. Later, with a discretionary grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, the rape kit protocol was introduced to all 50 states, with much thanks and credit given by Goddard to then-Assistant Attorney General Lois Haight Herrington.

In the early 1980s, Goddard joined the Office of the Attorney General's new Victim Assistance Program, and discovered a tremendous backlog of rape cases. After instituting a comprehensive training program for law enforcement and others who worked on rape cases, the backlog was eliminated in 13 months.

Early on, Goddard also challenged the news media that published details about rape victims' identities as the status quo. She also recalls taking on a greeting card company, which changed its policies as a result of her intervention:

"So here's the card. One of my Board members brought it in and was freaking out and I said, 'Ruth, what's the matter?' And she said, 'Read this.' And it said: 'Help stop rape' on the front of the card; open it up and it says, 'Say yes'."

As Goddard explains, it was "one incident by one incident. It took forever..."

Successful Strategies

She noted that one of the most important strategies was simply, "Don't name call." Goddard elaborates:

"....Be nice. Have a little class, and keep one foot in with the institutions, and one foot out, and then you can move any way you want. But keep one in and keep one out so you're not bought."


Goddard cites an early failure as "the political bickering between victim service groups" and among groups the represented specific victims' interests, such as domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.....

"There are major ego problems. So just because you're doing good for the world, doesn't eliminate that problem." She also points to a lack of funding for comprehensive victim services as an ongoing problem.

Goddard also believes that victim service providers rarely receive the acknowledgment they so rightly deserve:

"...People who provide what I consider to be the basic human services to other fellow human beings are not recognized appropriately. If they're paid at all, they are paid on such a low scale that hardly anybody can believe. One of the states I worked with was North Dakota. And I was addressing everyone from the state who worked in rape victim services. And afterwards, as we were all just kind of talking and seeing what the next meeting would hold, I don't know how it came up but I said,'well how much do you make?' And she said, '$9000' and she had a child! And I found out that was not abnormal..."

Greatest Accomplishments

"I have to hand this to President Reagan," Goddard says. "The Victims of Crime Act...and the creation through the Department of Justice of the Office for Victims of Crime" were the most important accomplishments. She specifically credits Lois Haight Herrington and Jane Nady Sigmon, who began and built the Office for Victims of Crime: "If it hadn't been for those two people, both of whom were super qualified...these women knew what they were dong. (Without them) we would not be here today talking."

Continuing the Field's Growth and Professionalism

Goddard believes the field needs to be "more organized" and "work together through our differences." She cites the need for mentoring as the most critical solutions to continue the field's growth and professionalism, and recalls:

"Frankly, you know, I'm 60-something and a lot of us are gonna' be up there soon. In 10 years, 15 years, 20 years...what are we gonna' do? We were so rushed and so poor and so overburdened back in the old days that we didn't have time to mentor anybody....Mentoring somebody is a luxury. And being able to be mentored is a luxury.....So what we need to do is figure out a way that will encourage people to come in, and say, 'Look, you won't have to live on $3000 a year...Things aren't so bad. The way has been paved. Please come into the field, because we need smart, energetic people who really want to do this'."

Goddard advises newcomers to the field to take care of themselves. "Learn to delegate and put your false ego aside," she stresses. "It's okay to give credit to other give them responsibility and not have to lay awake at nights worrying, 'Is it gonna' get done right?' "

Vision for the Future

Goddard would like the field "grow to a much larger size and much more influential size that it exists as today." More collaboration, less "politicking" and expanded training are also part of her vision.

Greatest Fear

Goddard fears that funding cutbacks will have a devastating impact on the field and the availability of greatly needed victim services:

"But the fact of the matter is it really isn't fair.....And why don't we just take a look at one of the biggest businesses in this country and what is it? It's the criminal justice system. It isn't the 'victims' justice system.' It's the criminal justice system. The number of jobs, the billions of dollars collectively that goes to the prison system... .. that goes for medical treatment, that goes for lawyers, that goes for courthouses, that goes for all of this stuff. ..... I'm all for defendants' rights, let me assure you. But add up what the victims get, add up all the compensation programs in this country, add up all the victim services, and it will be an appalling gap....Now victims are you and me in the past, in the present, or in the future. Regular people go about their business and something happens to them. And if they are lucky enough to survive, in my opinion and the opinion I hope of the majority of the citizens of this country, they deserve to have the services available."