About the Gwinnett Sexual Assault Center & Children’s Advocacy Center
Founded in 1986 as Gwinnett Rape Crisis to provide support to victims through a crisis line and accompaniment through forensic medical exams (aka, “rape kit” exam), the Gwinnett Sexual Assault Center & Children’s Advocacy Center is now a ‘dual services’ center with specialized services for children, teens, and adults.
We provide free, confidential support and services to victims and survivors of rape, sexual assault, and child sexual molestation and abuse. We work with survivors of all genders regardless when the violence occurred and whether they choose to report. Support to children and their non-offending care givers is offered with care.
What We Do
- Crisis intervention, Advocacy & Support, and Legal Services are available from our professional staff and trained volunteer advocates.
- Our Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Coordinators work with law enforcement when a sex crime is reported and forensic services are required and organizes our team: Advocate, SANE, and Forensic Interviewer (for children).
- Our specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) and Forensic Interviewers can provide forensic services to collect evidence which may be used in a criminal investigation.
“That is simply not acceptable. We can do much better.”
~ Ann Smiley, founder of Gwinnett Rape Crisis (1986)
While volunteering at Gwinnett Medical Center, Ann Smiley was asked to remain with a young woman who was being admitted due to severe injuries sustained when a man raped and beat her. Ann asked the tending physician, Dr. Cora Salvino, when the rape crisis counselors would respond. When Dr. Salvino told her that we have no such services in our community, and the patient would have to seek support on her own after discharge, Ann’s response changed the course of treatment and care for people of all ages victimized by sexual assault and abuse in Gwinnett County. Ann convinced the City of Duluth (Georgia) to rent a vacant property to Gwinnett Rape Crisis for $1 per year and recruited and trained volunteers in victim advocacy in accordance with the prevailing standards. A crisis line was launched. Relationships with law enforcement were cultivated. Soon trained crisis volunteers responded to crisis calls 24/7 and responded to the local hospitals when rape victims were brought there. That wasn’t enough for Ann. She believed crime victims should not have to sit in an emergency department waiting room for hours. So she created clinical space at GRC so the forensic medical exams and police interviews could be done in a calm, quiet, safe location.
Ann Smiley passed away in 1994, leaving a legacy of care and direct services to ease the burdens sex crimes impart on their victims.
Our next strong leader came in the form of Ann Burdges. Under her 20-year leadership, Gwinnett Rape Crisis grew into the Gwinnett Sexual Assault Center and Children’s Advocacy Center (GSAC-CAC). The organization grew to provide specific services for kids whose childhoods are harmed by sexual molestation, assault, and/or abuse. As a certified Children’s Advocacy Center, we provide highly specialized forensic-medical, forensic-interview, victim & family advocacy, and legal services with a pediatric focus.
AnnieB, as she is affectionately called by long-time GRC/GSAC-CAC volunteers and supporters, brought a rare combination of education and experience in nursing, social and behavioral sciences, and law enforcement sex crimes/homicide investigations to the mission. In addition to steadfastly pursuing a specialized climate of services for sexual assault and child sexual abuse victims and their families here in Gwinnett County, Georgia, AnnieB trained law enforcement, SANEs, allied professionals, and the Department of Defense Military SVU across the state and nationally.
AnnieB’s vision for a free-standing center with comprehensive victim services including forensic-medical, advocacy, and legal services provided in a respectful, compassionate environment is realized. Her commitment to expanding the capacity of victim services throughout the state is evidenced by the highly-rated SANE Training program offered through GSAC-CAC.
In 2017, Ann Burdges accepted an exciting opportunity as Director of Communications and Systems Innovation with End Violence Against Women International. She brings a distinguished career of grassroots experience to the policy arena. We wish her much success in her new role, as policies, programs, and practices shape the environment in how both the perpetrators of sex crimes and their victims are treated.
We are building on the foundation of excellence and commitment to victims and survivors that drove Ann Smiley and Ann Burdges.
Our professional staff remain engaged in providing services without disruption.
As we prepare for new Executive leadership, GSAC-CAC’s transition plan is underway with Marina Sampanes Peed serving as Interim Executive Director.
Join us as we explore new ways to collaborate to:
- Raise informed awareness of sexual violence and the toll it takes on individuals, families, neighborhoods, schools, and employers
- Build our community’s capacity to identify and prevent sexual assault and abuse from occurring
- Improve our collective response to assist people directly impacted by sex crimes.
The crisis response services happen with team of seven full-time staff members, 18 part-time and on-call staff, and more than 30 specially-trained crisis advocacy volunteers.
Interns also support our mission. In addition to learning more about the unexpected challenges sex crime victims endure, interns work on special projects which contribute to the advancement of the mission.
FUNDERS & DONORS
We couldn’t provide all these great services – free of charge to victims — without these funders and generous financial and in-kind donors.
- Office of the Governor Criminal Justice Coordinating Council: Administrator for Victims of Crime Act & Violence Against Women Act Federal Funds
- Governor’s Office of Children and Families
- United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women
- State of Georgia Department of Human Services: Family Violence Division
- Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
- Gwinnett Health & Human Services
- Children’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia
Foundations & Civic Organizations
- Community Foundation of NE Georgia
- Assistance League of Atlanta
- Variety Club of Georgia
- Jackson EMC foundation
- Lilburn Women’s Club
- Rite Aid Foundation KidCents Program
- Carolyn’s Message Service
- Gwinnett Hospital System
- Juliet Asher, M.D.
- Helping Mamas