The Women’s Center of Jacksonville, a 501(c)(3)non-profit, was founded in 1995 to provide for the unmet needs of women in our community. Co-founder Shirley Webb served as the Women’s Center’s Executive Director until 2015 when she retired. Succeeding Shirley is Teresa Miles, a 30-year veteran in the field of human services and a long-time advocate for sexual assault survivors. TheWomen’sCenter offers mental health counseling, adult literacy tutoring, GED training, breast cancer support and education as well as advocacy and support for victims of sexual assault. Through direct service and outreach, more than 7,200 individuals, along with their families, are served annually.
The Women’s Center of Jacksonville is the only Certified Rape Crisis Center for Duval, Nassau, and Baker Counties and serves victims of sexual assault regardless of their gender. As such, the Women’s Center offers a 24 hour Rape Crisis Hotline to provide support, advocacy, and counseling to victims of sexual assault and their families. The Rape Recovery Team has victim Advocates on call 24/7 and victims can receive support whether or not they report their assault to law enforcement.
Beginning in 2014, the Women’s Center of Jacksonville assumed responsibility for conducting the sexual assault forensic exams for Duval, Nassau, and Baker Counties. These exams are conducted by specially trained and certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). Overseen by our Medical Director, Dr. Wade Barnes, the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) Program conducts more than 300 exams each year.
The Women’s Center of Jacksonville has been widely recognized for innovative programs and outstanding delivery of services. In 2015, the Women’s Center of Jacksonville was named the Best Small Agency of the Year by Mental Health America. That same year, the director of the Rape Recovery Team received the State Victims Advocate Award. The Non-Profit Center of Northeast Florida also awarded the Women’s Center of Jacksonville the Local Focus: Lasting Impact award for Innovative Programming for the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) Program. Shirley Webb, founding executive director of the Women’s Center of Jacksonville was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Woman Business Owners organization in the same year.
Unfortunately, the current SAFE facility is inadequate to meet the increasing needs of the victims of sexual assault in our community. In keeping with our tradition of offering the highest quality programs to those we serve, the Women’s Center of Jacksonville is committed to ensuring that victims of sexual assault are treated with respect, dignity, and compassion and that sexual assault forensic exams and evidence collection and storage are conducted using recognized best practices.
In order to continue this commitment, the Women’s Center of Jacksonville has purchased a building that will serve as a model SAFE Center for other Florida counties, as well as nationwide.