Dr. Natalie A. Stephens
Founder, Rape Victim Advocates
Dr. Natalie Stephens (Turner), a true visionary and steadfast advocate for survivors of sexual violence, founded Rape Victim Advocates in 1974 in partnership with ten medical and nursing students.
Dr. Stephens was a trailblazer from the very beginning. She decided at 5 years of age to become a doctor and let nothing deter her from that goal. Dr. Stephens was one of four women in her medical school class at Syracuse University, all that the university would admit. She went on to intern at Baltimore City Hospitals (1945), at a women’s hospital in San Francisco, and at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Chicago (1948) where she became an attending physician.
Most of her career was spent in private practice as an obstetrician/gynecologist in downtown Chicago and as an attending physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where she was an Assistant Professor Emeritus in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Stephens also served at various other hospitals including Cook County (now Stroger) where she volunteered for years at the maternity center.
It was during her years of practice that Dr. Stephens realized that rape victims were leaving the hospital in an emotionally worsened state than when they arrived. Dr. Susan Burke, one of the 10 founding medical students, shared this about Dr. Stephens with the Chicago Tribune, “She was a champion for people who had very little voice. On a personal note, she taught me that I could make a difference in ways I never thought possible.”
RVA’s Visionary Award was renamed the Dr. Natalie Stephens Visionary Award in 2012 in posthumous honor of our founder, and recognizes the work of far-sighted leaders who have made a powerful and lasting impact on the issue of sexual violence in Chicago and beyond.