Gail Frances Gardner | 2022 National Crime Victims' Service Awards
Gail Gardner is a survivor who experienced a home invasion and rape by an unknown perpetrator as a single mom in 1988. For many years, she waited to learn her perpetrator’s identity. As a life-long advocate for victims of random or familial sexual attacks, Ms. Gardner is the namesake of Florida’s Gail’s Law, which requires rape kit tracking via a database for victims to be kept aware of the status of their case evidence throughout the testing process. Florida cleared a backlog of 8,000 unprocessed kits in 2019. State law now requires the kits to be submitted for testing within 30 days and that laboratories process them within 120 days.
Her dedication has made a difference in the lives of many sexual assault survivors, and will continue to do so for years to come.
Gail Gardner received the Special Courage Award. Visit the OVC Gallery for more information about her work to support victims of crime.
GAIL GARDNER: One night in 1988, I was sexually assaulted in my home. And it changed my life forever. I immediately called the police. They took me to the hospital for a rape kit for evidence, and while I was there, I had them to call my pastor.
REV. ANDREW WADE: It was all about just really being there for her as much as we can and providing help for her.
GAIL GARDNER: It wasn't until 2016, before I could sleep in our house without lights.
I had called and asked a couple of times about the case and never got any response or anything. My kit, I was told, was tested. But whatever my DNA was, it set on the shelf for 30 years. Come to find out, this man has been in prison. And I'm thinking to myself, "Why did it take 30 years?"
I worked with Survivors for System Change, and a couple of legislators, to put forward a bill to get a DNA tracking system in Florida. They asked me, "Can we put your name on it?"
REV. ANDREW WADE: She's the first of many that will be able to bring some reconciliation and healing for other victims. And I just think it's going to be a phenomenal tool that we can use and to be able to, you know, discover the perpetrators.
GAIL GARDNER: People are looking for their purpose...
What I'm doing now is advocating and also counseling as a pastoral counselor. I'm determined that before I leave this earth, I'm going to do my part to get people to know that they do have help and what their rights are as victims. I'm seeking my justice and help some people get their own justice, too.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.