CRISIS LINE

Category JUSTICE

Someone’s Gotta Say It

 

Drunk Sex or Sexual Assault?

Challenging Perceptions: The Drunk Sex Defense Reconsidered

By Marina Sampanes Peed
Executive Director of Mosaic Georgia

How often have you said or heard “It’s 5:00 somewhere” as a signal to relax from work or studies? From moonshine, wine and beer to the latest spiked seltzers, alcohol has been a social lubricant for many millennia. But its effects on decision-making and behavior are far-reaching and complex.

It Has a Name: Alcohol Myopia

Alcohol myopia – a state where the drinker’s mental and emotional focus narrows. Alcohol decreases the number of social and environmental cues the drinker can focus on; it enhances their focus on immediate gratification and impulsive decision making. The combination of impaired judgment and lower inhibitions can lead to risky behaviors.

Alcohol affects several areas of brain function:

  • reduces activity in the frontal lobe, which governs attention, motivation, and learning.
  • reduces effectiveness of the pre-frontal cortex, which moderates behavior and aggression.
  • triggers the brain’s reward centers and increases feelings of euphoria.
  • enters the amygdala and makes the drinker less likely to feel threatened or afraid.
  • enters the cerebellum, which governs coordination and balance. That is why drunk people often stagger and stumble.

Alcohol myopia explains why someone under the influence may overlook the cues of rejection from another person. It’s like wearing blinders, where only the immediate experience matters, and everything else (including the other person’s wishes) fades into the background. Or the cues they do receive trigger an aggressive response.

To be clear: alcohol DOES NOT CAUSE sexual assault. Most people under the influence of alcohol are not aggressive and DO NOT assault other people.

Consider three common harms by intoxicated people:

Drunk Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37 people in the US die in drunk driving crashes each day. In 2021, 13,384 people died in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths – a 14% increase from 2020. Society rightfully condemns this behavior, recognizing the immense danger posed to oneself and others. No one asks for it.

Fighting While Drunk

Alcohol consumption is associated with aggressive behavior, consistent with lower inhibitions and impulsivity. Now, picture a heated altercation erupting between two guys at a bar, both under the influence of alcohol. Despite their impaired judgment, society does not hesitate to assign blame and hold them accountable for their violent behavior.

Sexually Assaulting while Drunk

When a drunk person sexually assaults – whether groping, fondling or worse – the responsibility narrative shifts. The assaulter’s behavior is neutralized by victim-blaming and excuses such as questioning consent and their responsibility, with the perpetrator often escaping consequences under the guise of “drunk sex.” “She was drunk, too.”….“She’s just embarrassed”….minimizing the harm to neutralize accountability. “He made a mistake. One error in judgment shouldn’t cost him his future.”

It must be asked: Why do we hold drunk individuals accountable for some actions but excuse them in another?

Confronting Double Standards

While some harms, like robbery, are readily condemned, others are met with doubt or denial.

If a man is mugged on the street and robbed of his watch and wallet, would he be asked:

  • Why were you wearing expensive clothes or a flashy watch?
  • Why were you out late?
  • How much had you had to drink?
  • Haven’t you been generous with needy people on the street before?
  • Did you say “no”? The suspect said you consented and gave him the watch and wallet without a struggle.

No, because in cases of robbery, the focus is rightfully on the perpetrator, not the victim.

It must be asked: Why in cases of sexual assault do we immediately shift to questioning the victim’s behavior?

Consider the “drunk sex defense,” where intoxication is an excuse in cases of sexual assault.

In too many cases, she reports that he raped her and he says she consented. All too often, survivors are subjected to scrutiny and blame while his behaviors are neutralized by deflecting and raising doubts about her.

Even though false reports of rape are among the lowest of all crimes (2-8% based on several rigorous studies), many investigations end after a preliminary interview with the victim and suspect. Without an offender-focused investigation, what he said she said is believed more than her own words. It’s no wonder that reports to law enforcement have declined in recent years to just 21% of all rapes.

Who is Aggressive when Drunk?

Predictors of who sexually assaults while inebriated include hypermasculinity, impersonal sex orientation (preference for sexual satisfaction without emotional connection or relational bonding), antisocial behavior, and low self-control. Males with unhealthy attitudes regarding sexual violence are much more likely to perpetrate sexual assault, have higher rates of alcohol use, and are much more likely to experience long-term alcohol-related problems. Alcohol is weaponized for physical and sexual aggression.

To make our community safer for everyone, each of us must confront our biases and cognitive dissonance surrounding the varied perceptions of drunk driving and sexual assault while under the influence. Until there are real consequences for all interpersonal violence, the aggressors have no incentive to change their behavior. Let’s confront these disparities and insist on a more equitable and just approach to addressing sexual violence.

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Someone’s Gotta Say It

 

Kindred Spirits Work to End Gender-Based Violence Around the World

 

By Marina Sampanes Peed
Executive Director of Mosaic Georgia

“The value of these exchanges and experiences includes building global solidarity in the mission toward a world free of violence.”

Lagan Denhard, MPH, Health Scientist, Gender & Youth Team, HIV Prevention Branch, Global Health Center, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

In October, Mosaic Georgia had the privilege of hosting a learning exchange with 30 public health practitioners from 21 countries across Africa, Asia, and the Americas, organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Global Health Center – HIV Prevention Branch. This remarkable gathering brought together practitioners from the Gender & Youth team, collectively dedicated to addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) on a global scale.

GBV, an internationally recognized term, includes any type of harm that is perpetrated against a person or group of people because of their factual or perceived sex, gender, sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The US Department of State shares, “Although persons of all gender identities may experience gender-based violence, women girls, and gender non-conforming persons face disproportionate risks across every context due to their unequal status in society.” Types of GBV include child sexual abuse; physical violence; intimate partner violence; all forms of sexual violence including forced prostitution, sex trafficking, conflict-related, forced pregnancy; child, early, and forced marriage; femicide; honor-based violence; female genital mutilation/cutting; technology-facilitated; and femicide.

Our excitement to show Mosaic Georgia’s community-based approach to preventing and responding to child abuse and gender-based violence in Gwinnett was met with curiosity and insightful questions.

The cornerstone of our model lies in providing specialty care outside traditional institutional settings like hospitals. Many hospitals worldwide lack the resources and expertise to provide trauma-focused care and support for patients who experienced sexual violence and the forensic & evidentiary practices needed to secure evidence for investigative purposes. We take great pride in being the first sexual assault center in Georgia to bring medical forensic care into a private, community-based setting 30 years ago. Mosaic Georgia shares proven practices with other communities in Georgia and states around the country.

One aspect of our approach that resonated profoundly is the practice of an advocate staying with the victim/patient during the medical forensic exam. One visitor remarked, “I think more young women would have the exam if they had confidential support. They are afraid to tell anyone for the shame it will bring to their family.”

Our international colleagues are no strangers to the challenges of addressing and preventing gender-based violence. The Global Health Center’s Gender & Youth team focuses on youth-specific and Gender Based Violence (GBV) programming as cross-cutting priorities in ending HIV as a public health threat. Many of them are providers themselves or have played critical roles in ensuring or expanding services for victims and survivors. At our gathering we learned about how CDC offices around the world are engaged in supporting GBV prevention and response efforts in one-stop public facilities, in communities, within integrated primary care services, in standalone clinics for the LGBTQ+ community, and for sex workers.

We have much in common with our colleagues despite visible differences such as nation wealth, household income, technology access, literacy rates, etc. For example, when crises arise (i.e., natural disaster, pandemic, economic scarcity), so does gender-based violence. The pandemic brought with it a rise in child sexual abuse here in Georgia. This very intimate violence creates additional trauma in an already stressful circumstance. Violence takes a long-term toll on physical and mental health, relationships, and overall quality of life.

There was great interest in how we maintain the trust of survivors and the respect of law enforcement when dealing with the complexities of these harms. We are fortunate to have an active, ongoing relationship with our local law enforcement agencies. The multi-disciplinary team model, adopted by Children’s Advocacy Centers across the country, stresses building relationships, regular meetings, recognizing and respecting each discipline’s roles and limitations, and healthy conflict resolution skills. Success requires mature leadership of all institutions to fully support the model. Again, the community-based setting creates a neutral forum for sometimes uncomfortable conversations.

From a public policy perspective, the community protocols for child abuse and sexual assault response and Georgia’s Sexual Assault Kit Tracking program generated a lot of discussion. They questioned how effective these measures are and if all parties participate. We explained the protocols must be certified by the Chief Justice of the Superior Court and filed with the State, and the Governor receives a report of Counties that are not in compliance. This is a strong incentive to participate, regardless of the political party in power.

During our exchange, common themes emerged.

A. Shame wields significant power. People – including faith communities, families, schools, and social groups – are uncomfortable talking about natural sexual development, sexuality, and sexual abuse & violence. Euphemisms are used to avoid offending others or causing embarrassment. This is intriguing given the widespread use of pornography.

B. Gender-based violence is widely under-reported due to victims’ unequal social standing as compared to heterosexual males. Homosexuality is a crime in some countries and culturally shamed in many others. Predators abuse these vulnerabilities with little risk to their safety or reputation.

C. Withdrawal or recantation of an abuse/assault report is common, especially among young victims. The reception of the outcry and the treatment thereafter often causes significant family disruption or financial pressures. Stigma tends to be placed on survivors more than perpetrators in every country.

D. At the same time, psychosocial support, especially when facilitated by peer navigators / advocates, holds immense power for survivors in the healing process.

E. The need for new strategies and accountability tools to prevent GBV, as no country has succeeded in reducing sexual violence with its criminal justice system alone.

Several opportunities to improving trust and safety for people most vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and violence were lifted up:

  • Early education of boys and girls on self-respect, empathy, healthy communication, can build a foundation for strong, healthy relationships.
  • Develop and support community-based peer navigators/advocates with knowledge and skills for confidential, judgement-free psychosocial support. Supporting local communities with trauma-informed training and activities can initiate great healing. Train-the-trainer models with sample program outlines/curricula can help jumpstart discussion for a community to create their own programs.
  • Build in training and understanding of the dynamics of Gender-Based Violence and maltreatment in public safety policies & practices. Include skill-building on trauma-informed practices when engaging with a victim of such interpersonal violence.

Our Wholeness Collective has harnessed the power of healing and mind-centering activities such as yoga, painting, dance, music, and spoken word in trauma-informed ways which reduces trauma symptoms of participants. These activities offer a path to healing that transcends language and cultural differences.

In light of these discussions, it’s evident that even when considerable economic power exists, the political will and commitment to end gender-based and sexualized violence worldwide has the capacity to be further strengthened. Cultural norms continue to shape attitudes toward gender and violence. When your ZIP code or village shapes your life experience and potential, the disproportionate male representation in local government contributes to the complexity of addressing GBV.

We recognize that this journey to reduce gender-based violence is one that transcends borders and demands collective action. The practitioners in Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Eswatini (formerly called Swaziland), Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe left us with inspiration and hope that we can each make a difference in our communities, with what we have.

The sounds of hope, resilience, and persistence rang loud and clear.

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From the Outside Looking In: Top 3 Reasons Mosaic Georgia is on My Giving Tuesday Shortlist

Mandy Headshot

By Amanda Makrogianis Mickelsen
Marketing Project Manager Consultant

Some causes are loud.

And some work is done quietly and selflessly behind the scenes, firmly but compassionately making a difference to those in a vulnerable place.

People (understandably) don’t like to acknowledge, let alone talk about, the disturbing topic of sexual violence. But it happens all around us. And in a world fraught with injustice, it is comforting to know there are helpers—people who care, working to minimize the suffering in seemingly small ways that make the biggest of differences.

I have worked for Mosaic Georgia’s Sexual Assault and Children’s Advocacy Center as a project management and marketing consultant for over two years, after feeling compelled to move from the corporate space to causes that contribute to a more just and humane world.

I become a donor each year on Giving Tuesday. I’d like to share with you why.

Burdens Lifted

Mosaic Georgia helps to alleviate the tremendous strain that envelops the lives of survivors and their families.

I have learned in my time here that sexual assault is not an isolated occurrence for the victim. There is a cascading ripple effect that can disrupt and sometimes debilitate the victim’s inner circle.

I imagine a mother who has just discovered the unthinkable who, amid the tragedy, is faced with the towering responsibility of single-handedly finding a safe living space for her children and providing for them while navigating the array of complicated social issues now encircling her. Mosaic is a place where she can find resources and referrals for rental assistance or transitional housing…a place where she can then access the legal services necessary to obtain a protective order or a divorce…a place where her little one receives a comfort kit with items that help them feel a little more safe and comforted as they realize they cannot return to the place they call home.

I imagine the tremendous burdens lifted at a time of immense stress, pain, shock, and confusion.

A Staff of Everyday Heroes

Mosaic allows their clients to feel seen, heard, safe, protected and as comfortable as they can be in those critical moments during a trying time no human being should ever have to face.

Whether a medical clinician or the first voice on the other end of the phone, everyone on the staff is caring and dedicated in a way I have never personally seen at an organization. From the moment someone walks through the crisis center door to the moment they leave their first trauma-informed yoga class, the team rallies around them, providing professional and compassionate care.

Every. Single. Time.

I consistently see messages of praise come through from parents who are grateful for the kind and caring way their loved one was treated at our center. And messages congratulating and affirming each other for coming together during a most trying case to provide the team support required to bring exceptional care to someone in crisis.

Some are there because of a personal connection to the mission and some are there to simply serve others in a time of need. They are a bonded group, collectively offering their clients dignity and warmth after a traumatic experience.

I am not a survivor so I cannot personally relate to how it feels to be in this situation. I do know that as I’ve gone through some of life’s more challenging times, the caring support people who were there with a lifeline in the moment I needed it, made all the difference in the world. The situation felt a little more manageable, and the weight of the ordeal was lifted just enough to get through with ‘one foot in front of the other’.

In those moments when we are most vulnerable, those with the lifeboats are all we have.

And it is critical that those providing the lifeboats have the resources and support they need to keep doing what they do.

Healing is Not Just an Afterthought

At a visit with a local women’s group I heard Executive Director Marina Sampanes Peed speak to the grim reality that the majority of those who come through their center will unfortunately not find legal justice, and instead will likely have to find a way to come to peace internally with the trauma that is now a part of their being. This is a tall order. Flawed societal ideals result in inequities within our systems. Hence many survivors are faced with the undeserved and unfair reality that a sense of peace that often accompanies accountability for their abuser will not be a part of their story.

To address the need for internal emotional reconciliation, last year Mosaic unveiled a Resilience Center that focuses solely on the healing aspect of a survivor’s journey. From yoga to art to meditation, the Wholeness Collective program offers trauma informed healing programs, counseling sessions, and support groups for those ready to rebuild and reclaim their lives, including child-centered healing activities. It’s a beautiful thing to see those wounded by trauma come together to talk, share, laugh, cry, dance, drum, paint, sing – to heal in many shapes and forms. This important holistic component is not merely an afterthought but a solid pillar of Mosaic’s integrative programs and services.

Covering all the reasons a donation to Mosaic Georgia is worthwhile would make this much too long a read! I have shared just the top of my list.

This Giving Tuesday I encourage you to join me in letting the staff at Mosaic Georgia know their work is valued, and showing survivors that they are supported. A tremendous amount of financial resources are required to provide such comprehensive services to those affected by sexualized violence. Please donate today!

Mosaic Georgia is a Sexual Assault and Children’s Advocacy Center that provides crisis intervention and support services for victims of sexual abuse, assault and trafficking. Services include forensic medical exams, advocacy, forensic interviews, legal aid, counseling, education & training, and healing-oriented wellness programs. In Gwinnett County, clients come to the safe and private setting of Mosaic Georgia instead of the emergency room.

Our mission is to take action and guide change for the safety, health & justice of children and adults impacted by sexual violence.

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Faces of Mosaic Georgia

Sarah Marin
Wholeness Collective Coordinator

Fun Fact: Sarah is your friendly neighborhood cat lady. She has 6 fur babies of her own, but is always feeding strays, fostering and trying to capture parking lot dumpster kitties. If you’re looking for a feline friend, just ask her!

Sarah’s passion for helping others, especially underserved communities, fuels her career in supporting survivors of trauma. With a BA in Psychology and Education, she brings valuable experience from her previous role as a Campus Advocate at a Sexual Assault Center, coordinating outreach programs, developing resources, and directly supporting survivors across 11 college campuses. Her work extended to assisting human trafficking victims and assisting/facilitating healing groups, particularly through art.

Sarah joins Mosaic excited to create a safe space for survivors to explore long-term healing through various avenues including art, music, movement, and nature. Fostering a mind-body connection, her goal is to empower them on their personal healing journey where they can find their individual, unique paths to resilience and well-being. She is passionate about inspiring their healing through the things that they love.

Her mission is to provide a safe haven for those impacted by trauma, fostering lasting change within the community. Sarah is now pursuing her Master’s in Counseling and is thrilled to join Mosaic’s incredible team, a one-stop shop for survivors seeking comprehensive support.

Maria Ortiz
Counselor/Therapist

Fun Fact: Maria is obsessed with the Twilight Saga and became a huge Paramore fan because of it.

Hola! My name is Maria Ortiz and I am a bilingual counselor/therapist at Mosaic GA. I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology at Georgia State University and dedicated most of my time to working on research studies in the Gesture and Language, and Child Health and Medical Pain (CHAMP) Labs. The studies I participated in analyzed gesture & language in bilingual children and families, and how pediatric patients with chronic illness perceived/coped with their illness including how it affected their health outcomes. My passion for clinical research and care led me to pursue higher education. I earned my Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Mercer University. While working towards my degree, I worked in the behavioral/mental health department at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) coordinating care for acute pediatric patients.

My clinical experience includes working with children on the autism spectrum, those with feeding and eating disorders, suicidal patients, and trauma survivors. As a first generation American with Honduran background, I enjoy being able to provide clinical services in Spanish. One of my professional missions is to support and educate Latinx families about mental health and wellness.

Lisa Pappas
Managing Attorney

Fun Fact: Lisa enjoys weightlifting and watercolor painting.

Lisa Pappas received her Bachelor of Business Administration from Mississippi State University (MSU), where she met her now husband Nick. Lisa then earned her Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of Law in 2009; she spent one year of this time as a visiting student at the University of Georgia. Most of Lisa’s legal career has involved working as a prosecutor. She’s been an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) in the Western Judicial Circuit, the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit, and most recently, the Alcovy Judicial Circuit. As an ADA she prosecuted serious, violent felony cases including child molestation, armed robbery, and murder. She joined Mosaic Georgia in February of 2024 with hopes to have positive impacts on victims of sexual assault.

Rachel Pearson
Advocacy Specialist & Volunteer Coordinator

Fun Fact: Rachel wrote an essay for a writing contest at her university and won! Her essay is published in her university’s literary magazine.

Rachel received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Human Services Delivery and Administration from the University of North Georgia. Before joining the team at Mosaic Georgia, Rachel was an advocate at a domestic violence shelter which enabled her to gain valuable insight on the work of non-profits catered towards ensuring the safety and justice of victims of family violence. Rachel started last July as an Advocacy Specialist and has recently taken on the role of Volunteer Coordinator as well. She is incredibly proud and grateful to work for an organization whose mission is focused on believing and empowering all victims of sexual assault, providing them with lasting resources, and working alongside law enforcement and other agencies to ensure justice.

Laura Mathew
Counseling Intern

Fun fact: Ratatouille is my absolute favorite childhood movie. I listen to the soundtrack when I study and cook. The movie’s ambience makes me feel really comfy. I still watch it 1x/year!

Laura Mathew is pursuing her Master of Social Work degree at the University of Georgia and previously has earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of West Georgia. She joined Mosaic in January 2024 as a counseling intern. Her previous experience included interning at a non-profit that served women survivors of sex trafficking and individuals who aged out of foster care. The organization provided support in overcoming their many challenges and aided in advancing their academic success. Her clinical interests revolve around helping children and adults who have had adverse childhood experiences. Laura is also interested in human trafficking prevention and education. Once she graduates in May 2024, Laura hopes to be more involved in assisting those who have been trafficked, utilizing rehabilitation and/or policy work that advocates for survivor rights and assistance.

Vernon Scott
Advocacy Specialist

Fun Fact: Apple juice is my comfort drink.

Dr. Vernon T. Scott is from the state of Georgia. He is in the process of earning a master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy with a Systemic Sex Therapy specialization. As a therapist, Vernon specializes in treating adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and Black men’s mental health. He is an advocate for trans rights and fighting against rape culture and its systemic impact within society. Vernon is a podcaster who uses his platform to provide healthy conversations related to the nuances of sexual expression and amplify the voices of those often forgotten by society.

Vernon has been a member of the Mosaic GA family since July of 2023. He is currently an Advocacy Specialist. Vernon strives to help families find a way to start their healing process and grow together.

Adina Becerra
Bilingual Advocacy Specialist

Fun Fact: Adina comes from Transilvania, the place where vampires are said to come from.

Adina grew up in Romania and earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Bucharest. Her thesis “Stalking on College Campuses” was published in the National Journal of Criminology, Forensics and Penology. She has a proclivity for foreign languages, being fluent in four (Italian, English, Spanish and Romanian). Her first summer job was as an Italian interpreter in High School for private Italian tourists visiting Romania. After interning in probation and conducting research in the Romanian prisons, Adina came to Atlanta and became a National Credential Advocate to better serve her community. Before coming to Mosaic, she volunteered for Dekalb CASA for 10 years, IRC and Day League before joining the Dekalb Solicitor General’s Office as a Victim Advocate in 2022.

Mairah Teli
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Youth (CSEC) Advocate and MDT Coordinator

Fun fact: Mairah’s average typing speed is 72 words per minute

Mairah Teli serves as the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Youth (CSEC) Advocate and MDT Coordinator at Mosaic Georgia. Mairah received her bachelor’s in English Education from the University of Georgia. After teaching in the Gwinnett County Public School system as a high school Language Arts teacher, she shifted her focus to social work and earned her Master’s of Social Work. Mairah worked within the nonprofit sector and has served in a variety of roles with a focus on victim services, trauma informed care, crisis intervention, and strengthening families. She is currently an LMSW and works with children and adolescents who have experienced human trafficking by providing crisis intervention, case management, and advocacy. Mairah is also an active member of the Georgia Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force. Outside of work, Mairah is passionate about community service and youth development. She leads a youth group program for adolescent girls, facilitates support groups, and leads a range of trainings on child abuse prevention and mental health in her local community.  

Brian Darden
IT & Data Administrator

Fun Fact: Brian is running his first marathon later this year!

Brian was born and raised in and around Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2013 with a BA in Sociology and recently completed a Master of Public Administration at the University of North Georgia. Brian previously worked for FOCUS, a non-profit in Atlanta that serves families who have children with developmental disabilities and who are medically fragile. He now works as Mosaic Georgia’s IT and Data Administrator where he handles all things technical and database-related.

Velma Wright
Paralegal & Legal Advocate

Fun fact: Velma is related to Viola Davis by way of her mother!

Velma works as a paralegal and legal advocate within Mosaic Georgia’s legal department, providing direct advocacy services to clients impacted by sexual assault, child sexual abuse or sex trafficking. She assists the managing attorney with civil legal matters in and out of court and criminal justice system advocacy services. Prior to that Velma gained experience working in the legal field for a number of organizations including Childers Schlueter & Smith, LLC and Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, and has also worked in the Gwinnett County Public Schools system as an educator. Velma has her BS from South Carolina State University and her Master of Arts in Human Services-Marriage and Family Therapy, in addition to her Paralegal Certification. Velma is passionate about being an advocate and serving others, especially children, through volunteer work. She is a graduate of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation, Inspire Atlanta Class of 2020.

Sara Longwell
Bilingual Legal Advocate/Navigator

Fun Fact: Sara loves horror movies, crafting, and building Legos with her family.

Sara Longwell is a Bilingual Legal Advocate/Navigator at Mosaic Georgia who works with victims of sexual assault to understand criminal and civil legal procedures, apply for Crime Victims’ Compensation, and find the resources they need. Sara believes that empowering survivors of sexual violence to make their own legal decisions on their own terms through education, the right resources, and compassion helps them build courage and confidence and to have authority over their lives.
Sara is Spanish/English bilingual, a certified paralegal, victim advocate, and crisis counselor. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Agnes Scott College and a master’s degree in Music Therapy and Music Education from the University of Georgia.

Esther Ko
Bilingual Victim Assistance Attorney

Fun Fact: Esther has a bunny named Bomi and a dog named Silver (they do not like each other).

Esther is a first-generation college and first-generation law school graduate. Esther attended the University of Georgia and Atlanta’s John Marshall School of Law. She has a passion to serve the public interest and fights for equal access to justice. In her free time, Esther enjoys volunteering at her local Korean community center to help with translation and other related services for those in need.
Esther started at Mosaic Georgia in August of 2023 and is excited to continue to serve in her role as Bilingual Victim Assistance Attorney.

Susan Nerenbaum
Marketing & Communications Specialist

Fun Fact: Susan is a devoted animal enthusiast.Dogs are her favorite, with cats running at a very close second!

Susan is a proud alumna of Georgia Gwinnett College, where she earned her Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing in May 2022. Her journey into the world of nonprofit marketing took its first steps when she became a Marketing and Outreach Intern at Mosaic Georgia. Driven by her unwavering commitment to effecting positive change, she smoothly transitioned into the role of Marketing and Communications Specialist at Mosaic after successfully completing her degree. Susan’s dedication is rooted in her aspiration to create a safer world for everyone. Beyond her professional pursuits, Susan’s heart beats for the great outdoors and having an active lifestyle. You’ll often find her hiking through nature trails, embracing the tranquility of the natural world, or eagerly venturing into new experiences.

Amanda Makrogianis Mickelsen
Marketing Strategist & Project Manager

Fun Fact: Amanda got a job working at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics after graduating from the University of Massachusetts – then after 15 years living in Southern CA – ended up right back in Atlanta in 2013 due to a documentary film her husband was making. The ATL always comes a callin!

Amanda feels lucky to have landed as a consultant at Mosaic Georgia where she works copywriting and project managing marketing initiatives and strategy. After gathering many years of account management experience in the corporate sector, Amanda put a focus towards her personal passion of health and wellness as a Wellness Consultant, and later a Chopra Certified Instructor, teaching meditation and the benefits of holistic health and yoga at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in CA. She currently teaches at Southwest Atlanta Yoga studio. Amanda feels passionate about serving the collective and contributing to a more just and humane world. She has served as Board President at the Doc B Cares, Inc. program and volunteers with various Atlanta organizations such as the King Center.

Amanda enjoys traveling, reading, meditation, the quiet of nature, cooking (when the mood strikes!) with her young son, swimming, and exploring new ideas. Oh, and she will soon-to-be enjoying RVing with her family!

Vanessa Zavaleta-Beltran
Client Experience Specialist

Fun Fact: Vanessa is the first one to graduate from her mom’s side of the family!

Vanessa graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s in criminal justice with a concentration in criminology and a minor in psychology in 2022. She spent time interning at Forever Family which is a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping at-risk youth. She began her journey at Mosaic Georgia in June 2022.

Danny Fernandez
Schedule and Intake Coordinator

Fun fact: Danny worked with capuchins and orangutans; the primary focus of his psychology degree was primate behavior. He also plays guitar in a band. 

Danny started with Mosaic Georgia during the summer of 2020 as a Client Experience Specialist. He has subsequently been promoted to Schedule and Intake Coordinator. Prior to joining Mosaic, he was working as a bar manager and beverage director in Atlanta. The pandemic encouraged him to change his life’s trajectory to become more aligned with community engagement. He had previously worked at The Ronald E. McNair Program from 2012-2014, an organization that assists first-generation college students matriculate to their PHD’s. Danny received his Bachelor of Science in psychology from Georgia State University in 2012.

Maryam Jordan
Professional Education & Training Services

Fun Fact: Maryam has been to five continents so far, but still wants to see and experience more of our world! 

Maryam Jordan manages Mosaic Georgia’s Professional Education and Training Services and has been with the organization since September 2019. She provides educational programs for medical professionals, law enforcement, educators, and other community members who may interact with victims of sexual assault. Maryam also manages outreach and community engagement efforts, where she draws from her experience working with people from various cultures. She is energized when she is able to go out into the community and educate about sexual assault awareness and prevention, especially to young people. Maryam earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Prior to joining the team, she worked in the international affairs arena where she lived, worked and traveled abroad and conducted training and educational programs for volunteers and members of an international non-profit organization. Maryam is a native Atlantan and moved to Gwinnett County over 10 years ago with her husband and three children. In her free time, she enjoys “getting outdoors” and hiking in the North Georgia mountains with family and friends.

Marilucia Munoz
Bilingual Advocacy Specialist

Fun Fact: Mari loves to read true crime books. 
 
Mari Munoz is a first generation American with family origins in Mexico and Honduras. She graduated from the University of North Georgia with a Bachelors in Human Services Delivery and Administration in 2022. While getting her Associate’s degree, she discovered a strong interest in helping people of all sorts and in various ways. Her years of studying included multiple internships; the last one was with the DA’s office. In her time there it became clear that she wanted to become an advocate and help survivors during their process in the legal system. Mari started at Mosaic Georgia as a Bilingual Advocate in July of 2022.

Liliana Jimenez
Bilingual Advocacy Specialist and Campus Outreach Coordinator

Fun Fact: Liliana won the College of Health Sciences Outstanding Student award at her graduation.

Liliana graduated from Georgia College & State University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health in 2022. When she first started interning at Stepping Stone CAC she fell in love with this work and wanted to continue doing it after graduation. Liliana started as a full-time Bilingual Advocacy Specialist at Mosaic Georgia in May. Since then, she has also started as a Campus Outreach Specialist and works with surrounding campuses to spread awareness and implement on-campus education. Liliana is very excited to continue supporting victims of sexual assault.

Helen Cha-Choe
Director, Advocacy & Forensic Interviews

Fun fact: Helen played tennis in high school and recently rediscovered her love for the sport.

Helen is the Forensic Interview Manager at Mosaic Georgia.  Prior to joining our team in July 2018, Helen worked with the Asian American and immigrant communities and provided immigration legal and educational services, as well as legal advocacy to victims of domestic violence at non-profits in the Metro Atlanta Area and has also counseled high school students at a non-profit in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has always had a strong commitment to public service, previously working as a federal government attorney for over twelve years in New York and Washington, D.C.  Helen received her Bachelor of Science degree from Georgetown University, her J.D. from the University of Hawaii School of Law, and her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies.  Raised in Hawai’i, she brings the “aloha spirit” to Georgia and has made Fulton County her home with her family.

Edith Garcia
Bilingual Advocate & Forensic Interviewer

Fun fact: Edith has watched the show New Girl over five times (and will continue to watch New Girl in her spare time).

Edith started with Mosaic during the pandemic in summer of 2020 as our Bilingual Advocate & Forensic Interviewer. She received her Bachelor’s of Human Services from the University of North Georgia and is currently working on her master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Bellevue University. Edith is a first generation college graduate and the first in her family to continue her education to obtain her master’s degree. Before working at Mosaic Georgia Edith interned at Partnership Against Domestic Violence assisting survivors obtain temporary protective orders.

Jessica McGinnis
Advocacy Specialist, Forensic Interviewer, & SART Coordinator

Fun Fact: Jessica was the creative inspiration and driving force behind the beautiful painted “mosaic” design currently covering a picnic table at Ironshield Brewing’s Biergarten in Lawrenceville.

Jessica currently works as an Advocacy Specialist, Forensic Interviewer and SART Coordinator at Mosaic Georgia. She devotes her time to serving victims of all ages. She completed the ChildFirst Forensic Interview Training in March 2022. Her graduate studies were completed at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her Master’s in Social Work (MSW) in May 2018. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, GA in December 2015 where she received a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice with a Forensics Concentration. Jessica completed the Gwinnett Young Professionals Journey Program in April 2023. She also is a recipient of the 1PowerHouse Unsung Hero Award.

Jaime Albright
Part-Time Forensic Interviewer & Advocate

Fun fact: Jamie has a fear of heights and overcame it by going cliff jumping and parasailing.

Jaime serves as a part-time Forensic Interviewer and Advocate. Jaime’s interest in serving children was sparked through volunteerism. She began her work at Mosaic Georgia in February 2014 as a volunteer Victim Advocate and moved into the role of SART Coordinator in 2015. Jaime earned her Bachelor of Sociology from Kennesaw State University in 2013 and earned her Master of Social Work from Valdosta State University in May 2018. Jaime was born and raised in California. She resides in Alpharetta with her husband and children. She enjoys writing and producing podcasts, yoga, serving on mission trips, and spending time with her family.

Maria Herrera
Bilingual Forensic Interviewer and Advocate

Fun Fact: If you catch Maria watching TV it will most likely be The Office, and in her free time you might see her shooting some hoops.

From Atlanta, GA, Maria is of Mexican descent and is bilingual in Spanish and English. Maria received her bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University and is currently working on her Master’s in Public Administration at Kennesaw State University. Before Joining the Mosaic team, she worked at the Douglas County Task Force for almost three years as a Legal Services Coordinator, then as a Bilingual Forensic Interviewer. She joined Mosaic Georgia in March of 2022. Maria is passionate about serving her community and giving survivors a place to feel heard.

Charmaine Hayes
Part-Time Bilingual Forensic Interviewer & Advocate

Fun fact: Charmaine lived a year in Miami, Fl. with a Brazilian group who only spoke Portuguese so by default had to learn the Portuguese language!

Charmaine is of Cuban and Mexican descent and originally hails from New Orleans, Lousiana. In 2004, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Georgia State University and is currently perusing a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Liberty University. Charmaine spent many years working with Boys and Girls Clubs of Atlanta as a Program Director then transitioned to Emdeon as a Bilingual Healthcare Representative. Over the last 10 years she has operated her own business in the real estate market. Charmaine joined Mosaic in March 2023 and is passionate about supporting victims of sexual assault.

Rebeca Ruelas
Part-Time Forensic Interviewer

Fun Fact: Rebeca loves dancing to music, going to museums and finds joy in hearing and sharing jokes.

Rebeca Ruelas is part time Forensic Interviewer for Mosaic Georgia. Additionally, she is involved with a start-up app company focused on teenagers mental health. With over 10 years of experience in the field of social services, she has dedicated her career to working with victims, survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and advocating for children’s rights. Throughout her journey, she has worked at various centers specifically focused on addressing these issues, providing crucial support and resources to those in need. In addition to her professional work, she is an active volunteer for a local Hispanic non-profit in Georgia working tirelessly to raise awareness and support these communities. In 2017, she graduated from the University of North Georgia with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration.

Kendall Wolz
Mental Health and Wellness Manager

Fun fact: Kendall once got stuck on a train in Italy and missed her destination. Thankfully, any destination in Italy is desirable.

Kendall Wolz, LPC moved to Georgia and joined our staff in October 2022. Prior to joining Mosaic, she worked as the Center Director of a nonprofit organization in New Orleans that served individuals experiencing homelessness, struggling with addiction, and recovering from trafficking. She has her Masters of Arts in Counseling with a specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She is currently working on her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision. Kendall comes to Mosaic with first hand experience of what it is like to be a client at a Child Advocacy Center. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, Kendall is trained in both Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI). Kendall loves all things coffee and reading a good book.

Hagikah Birden
Counselor

Fun fact: Hagikah was a part of a Brazilian Street Drumming troupe in California. She played the Agogo, a type of bell.

Hagikah Birden is a licensed master social worker and therapist working towards clinical licensure. She joined Mosaic in October 2022 after moving to Georgia from the San Francisco Bay Area, California. She has a Masters in Special Education and a Masters of Social Welfare (MSW). Prior to becoming a therapist, she was a special education teacher working with teens and adolescents with cognitive, developmental and behavioral disabilities. Hagikah has worked as a social worker, advocate and educator in schools, criminal legal settings, and with survivors/victims of sexual assault in the Bay Area. Her experiences have significantly shaped her passion for and understanding of how exposure to violence and abuse can impact the individual, family, and community. She is excited to continue this work in the South.

Emily Felton
Counselor

Fun fact: Emily enjoys letting her creative juices flow with painting and other crafts.

Emily Felton is a Therapist/Counselor for Mosaic Georgia. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker in Georgia and is currently working on her LCSW. Prior to joining the team, Emily gained experience as a hospice/medical social worker and as a mental health therapist in the prison system. She is excited to continue her social work journey with us by providing therapy to children, families, groups, and individuals that have experienced trauma. Her areas of focus include: trauma, crisis intervention, addiction, life adjustment difficulties, parenting issues, anxiety, depression, and death and dying, grief and loss, and self-harm. Emily loves family time and traveling.

Melissa Drinkard
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)

Fun fact: I love to mountain bike in my free time. 
 
Melissa earned her nursing degree from Georgia Perimeter College in 2015 and began her career as an Emergency Room Nurse. From there, she discovered her passion for helping individuals that have been victims of sexual violence. Melissa became a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner at the beginning of 2022 and began her journey as an on-call SANE at LiveSafe Resources in Marietta. Melissa Joined the Mosaic Georgia team in July 2022 as a full-time SANE where she gets to pour all of her dedication into the care of her patients.

Teresa Bullard
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)

Fun Fact: Teresa met her husband on the school bus freshman year and they won cutest couple for senior superlatives. (Not sure it gets any sweeter than that.)

Teresa earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of South Florida in Tampa and worked in Mother Baby at NSH for 17 years. She first worked with Mosaic Georgia as an on call SANE and is now a full-time member of the staff. Teresa feels passionate about getting age-appropriate, sex positive inclusive sex education into our schools. She is very involved in her church’s outreach and advocacy for LGBTQ+ individuals and participates with the Atlanta area Lutheran church to support the Atlanta Pride Parade and Festival.

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Why are Sexual Assaults Under-Reported?

 

Most people will call the police if someone breaks into their home or steals something from their vehicle. Yet this is not the first reaction of most people who experience sexual violations.
According to rainn.org, 770 out of 1,000 sexual assaults go unreported to the police. That means that only 23% of all sexual abuse/assaults may have a response from the justice system.   

So why is it that most people do NOT call the police after experiencing sexual assault? 

There are many reasons — both personal concerns and system failures.

95% of the suspected sexual abusers are part of the victim’s family or social circle:  friend, friend of friend/family, date, boyfriend, roommate, coworker, fellow student, acquaintance, or person of power (e.g., landlord, teacher, boss).  

With this prevalence, the most common reasons given for not reporting #WhyIDidn’tReport:

  • “I just want him to leave me alone and put this behind me”
  • “He and his friends/family will make my life a nightmare”
  • “He will deny it and no one will believe me”
  • “My parents will kill him if they find out”
  • “The cops will call it “drunk sex” and tell me not to ruin his life”
  • “I was drinking, but I didn’t want to have sex”
  • “He will fire me and my friend if I tell anyone”

Social stigma and shame:  Common reactions immediately after include shame for trusting (I should have known better), self-blame (we were drinking), denial (it’s not that bad, he didn’t mean to hurt me). They feel responsible for “causing trouble” if they report their experience.   

Family or Community pressure:  In many instances (particularly with children and teens), both people are connected by family or friendship. Reporting the abuse/assault will disrupt the family system and people will “choose sides.” 

Fear or distrust of law enforcement:  The response by law enforcement varies widely by jurisdiction and the officer’s training. Fear of deportation exists when the victim or a member of the household is “undocumented.”  Language barriers also deter reporting.  

If you or someone you know experienced sexual assault or abuse, call Mosaic Georgia at 866-900-6019. We will listen to you and help you sort out your options. All services are free and confidential.  You may choose to have a medical forensic exam at Mosaic Georgia without reporting to law enforcement. 

We want you to feel comfortable and ready if you choose to report. If you later decide to report the assault, the evidence collected can be available for testing. Whether or not you end up deciding to report, we are by your side every step of the way.

 

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2021, Here We Come!

 

Out with the old, in with the new! As ~tragic~ as it was to say goodbye to 2020 (yes, we are being sarcastic), 2021 is off to a hopeful start already. We have a long road ahead of us this year: There is still an ongoing health crisis that poses challenges to serving victims to the fullest while many are still stuck at home with their abusers. Furthermore, as an organization we must broaden our reach when it comes to service while maintaining the highest levels of safety for both our staff and our clients. 

While 2020 was a bust in more ways than one, Mosaic Georgia adapted and stretched to better serve our community. Here are several honorable mentions: 

  • Expanded our appointment hours to 12 hour days Mon-Fri and remained open to carry out services throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, despite health risks and quarantine mandates.
  • Launched our Empowerment Fund to provide key client relief resources such as emergency shelter, housing stability, counseling and more.
  • Through the CARES Act, Mosaic secured housing navigation support, rent and utilities payments for victims who suffered financially along with the abuse trauma.
  • Launched the #MayI movement on social media, a campaign that strives to change the usual conversations surrounding consent and open the floor to share how it’s a normal part of everyday life. (Follow @mayi_movement to join the discussion!)
  • Launched an enhanced role in supporting our Gwinnett children and youth who have been sexually exploited for financial purposes, thanks to a new collaboration with the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Georgia (CACGA). As the statewide coordinator for reports and response to commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), CACGA notifies us to respond to youth in Gwinnett County. Mosaic Georgia activates a multi-disciplinary team to assess the situation, meet with the child/youth and coordinate care to ensure their needs are being met.

Not a bad record for one of the most confusing and chaotic years to date! Now, as we enter 2021 full steam ahead we want to share our top goals for this new year: 

  • Expand our legal services and make a difference in how we serve victims by hiring a bilingual Victim Services Attorney and bilingual Legal Navigator (Yes, we are hiring, click here to learn more!).
  • Serving more CSEC Youth as a Children’s Advocacy Center.
  • Securing more operational space! As COVID continues, it’s essential to maintain social distancing. We are searching for additional space or a larger facility that can accommodate our expanding programs and serve more clients in the safest manner possible. 

We couldn’t have achieved so much in 2020 without the support of our board, our donors and our local community. There is still a long road ahead in putting an end sexual abuse and assault and we’ll need to come together again, if not stronger in 2021 to assist those suffering, especially victims who have suffered in silence throughout the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Mosaic Georgia is so excited to go above and beyond in 2021 and we can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us! Thank you all for your continued support. 

Best wishes, 

Mosaic Georgia

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A Brighter Future During Uncertain Times

 

Dear supporters, community partners and beloved clients, past and present, 

Hello! As we enter the 5th month of COVID-19 in our midst, the weariness from uncertainty, hyper-vigilance, and isolation is real. Fortunately, our Mosaic Georgia team remains in good health as we adapt with strict infection prevention protocols for all who come to the center. 
 
Like all service organizations, Mosaic Georgia looks for new and different ways to fulfill our mission. We listen, observe, and respond to the needs of our clients by cultivating resources to address threats to their safety, health, and justice (which includes healing). 
 
We told you about our Empowerment Fund launched a couple of months ago. Several grantors provided funds for specific client relief resources (transportation, counseling, emergency shelter, housing stability, civil legal issues, medications, etc.). The most significant (and costly) financial strain is basic housing. The eviction moratorium is lifted and landlords this month will file dispossessory actions on tenants who are behind on their rent. Families in emotional and financial distress require significant support to remain in their homes—right as school begins.
 
Here’s some fantastic news: Mosaic Georgia was just awarded $285,000 from Gwinnett County! These funds will help our financially-injured clients regain housing stability with the help of a housing navigator and assistance with rent and utilities. 
 
In an effort to strengthen the community impacted by COVID-19, Gwinnett County recently awarded $13.3 million to 104 local nonprofits and faith-based agencies. This was secured by the County through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). 
 
It’s no secret that COVID-19 has taken its toll on all of us, but victims of sexual assault and abuse are undoubtedly among the most severely afflicted. Job loss has left people pressed for resources to relocate from danger or access legal services, while extended periods of time in quarantine means that many individuals are stuck at home with or nearby their abusers. With this grant, Mosaic Georgia will be able to provide relief in the form of rent and utilities payments along with personalized housing navigation support.
 
At least $200,000 of the grant money will pay landlords and utility companies – an investment in the local economy and efficient way to avoid the costs created by losing shelter. The remaining amount will bolster staffing and operational activities to ensure that relief is provided and executed for clients as efficiently as possible. Mosaic Georgia’s Executive Director, Marina Peed, expressed “With the County’s support, we will ease the financial and emotional stresses our clientele experience during this time.” With these new funds, Mosaic Georgia is ready to bring certainty of a brighter future to those we serve even in the most uncertain of times! 
 
For more information about our housing services, please check out: https://www.mosaicgeorgia.org/housing-navigation-services/
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Introducing the Crisis Support and Empowerment Fund!

 

Is 2020 over yet? Between the COVID-19 pandemic and community consciousness movements surrounding violence against black and brown people that have shaken our planet, it seems impossible to not feel the aftershocks of collective exhaustion and trauma from the layers and duration of human suffering. This pain is not equitably distributed. There is, however, some good news amidst the chaos. We see from our work that healing can happen with honest, difficult conversations about the problems prevailing in our society and their impacts followed by coordinated actions to create a common good.

Mosaic Georgia’s mission is to take action and guide change for the safety, health & justice of children and adults impacted by sexual violence. Sexual assault victims are often hit the hardest as the resulting financial strains or loss of employment pose yet another barrier to securing safety and defense from their abusers. With our commitment to help people put their lives back together, we launched a Crisis Support & Empowerment Fund. Thanks to our community partners, including United Way of Greater Atlanta, we have several resources to help victims, and provide stability and planning for future success during this unprecedented time.

Victims and their immediate families almost always experience intense disruption following the disclosure of sexual abuse or violence. The psychological trauma is compounded by time and financial stressors. A bit of help can often provide a stable base to establish new roots and start new, empowered lives.

A parent reached out to us last week for help in breaking their lease. The man who raped her daughter last year had been coming to their home at odd hours, creating more uncertainty and distress. Both parents have lost wages due to COVID-19. Our legal advocates assisted in negotiating out of the lease while our housing navigator helped secure sufficient funds for a new landlord to cover the security deposit and first month’s rent for their new home, as well as transfer utility billings. “We felt trapped and helpless because we couldn’t afford to move. Our daughter couldn’t sleep and didn’t feel safe. We’re moving this weekend! You are a blessing to our family.”

The Crisis Support & Empowerment Fund helps victims transition into survivors through these services:

  • Housing Navigation & Assistance: help develop an action plan for housing and financial stability in the COVID-19 era.
  • Counseling Support: Connections to trauma-focused therapy/counseling to assist with healing. Financial support may be available.
  • Legal Services: Free assistance with civil legal issues arising from sexual assault/abuse victimization including protective orders, child custody, child support, divorce, employment, education, and housing issues.

This fund allows us to assist with essential, immediate and short-term needs such as transportation, medications, groceries, clothing, emergency shelter, housing preservation and homelessness prevention.

2020 has been nothing short of challenging. The COVID-19 era has made change and adaptability a new norm and has also pushed organizations everywhere to innovate new ways of serving their communities. Mosaic Georgia is excited to be part of this new opportunity to not only break down barriers preventing victims of sexual violence from moving forward, but also be an active part in working to change the conditions that allow personal violence to persist.

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Our 24-Hour Crisis Line

 

Survivors of sexual assault may experience many different emotions after the incident. Each individual processes and responds to the trauma differently. Often there is the confusion of what steps to take next. A survivor may wonder whether he or she should report the incident or obtain specialized medical attention or counseling. During this time of uncertainty, Mosaic Georgia’s year-round, 24-hour confidential crisis line is available to help victims and their families by answering their questions and finding resources to support them through this difficult time.

The crisis line is open to everyone. Our crisis line connects the caller with an on-call trained advocate. The advocate listens to the caller and addresses his or her questions in a calm and professional manner. The advocate can also provide counseling referrals or help the individual make a report to law enforcement.

Our crisis line is free, confidential, and available all day and night. Our advocates are here to listen to you and believe you while they provide guidance on the possible steps you can take. If you, a family member or a friend is ever in need of our assistance, we are always just one call away at (866) 900-6019. No matter the circumstances, we are here to help you without judgement.

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Solutions for Survivors/Victims of Crimes: the Criminal Justice System, Civil Legal Remedies, and Non-legal Assistance

 

Helpful responses to sexual assault and sexual abuse can take many forms. The criminal justice system is an important part of the puzzle for many victims of crimes, but sometimes a lack of corroborating evidence and other factors prevent cases from ending in arrest and eventual conviction. For a reported perpetrator to be found guilty, prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (See the chart below) that the crime occurred and that the reported perpetrator is the one who committed the crime. This is an extremely high burden of proof.  Additionally, adult victims of crimes may choose not to report their assault to law enforcement, and as a result, the criminal justice process may never begin. If the criminal justice system doesn’t lead to the conviction of the perpetrator, are there other options for victims of crimes?

In some cases, people who experience sex-based crimes are helped most by advocacy and support services that don’t involve the legal system. Mosaic Georgia has a talented team of victim advocates on staff to assist these clients with support and non-legal resources.

In other cases, civil legal remedies may provide helpful safety options and can assist victims of crimes with protections for their privacy, solutions for housing issues, help with immigration needs, answers to custody or divorce issues associated with the assault or abuse, resolutions to education problems stemming from the assault or abuse, and other creative remedies. Mosaic Georgia’s legal team is available to provide information, resources, referrals, and/or legal representation for victims of crime who need assistance in qualifying matters, as resources allow. Call Mosaic Georgia today (or speak with an attorney of your choosing) to discuss whether (and which!) civil legal remedies may be helpful to you.

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