Sexual Assault Awareness Conference as Reports Spike in Festival Season

Sexual Assault Awareness Conference as Reports Spike in Festival Season

Max Rodriguez

Over 100,00 music lovers are coming into the desert each weekend this month for the music festivals, and the Sexual Assault Response Team at Eisenhower Hospital said they are getting an increase of calls.

Katie Pelland is the program coordinator for the Sexual Assault Response team, she said she can get a month’s worth of calls during the two weekends of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, “With that comes an increase of incidents of sexual assault, a lot of them drug facilitated, a lot of them having a good time and don’t remember what happened.”

She said many of the sexual assault cases involved drugs or alcohol, and she said sometimes those substances are not by choice, she said date rape drugs can go unnoticed until it is too late.

Pelland said, “Ketamine, GHB, date rape drugs, those are odorless and tasteless, so you won’t necessarily taste them and by keeping a hold of your drink, I mean keep it in your sight at all times.”

And because they said anyone can become a victim, the month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Coachella Valley Sexual Assault Services held a conference at Eisenhower Hospital to share stories by sexual assault survivors.

The program coordinator of the organization said, “And we are there from the beginning of the case to the end, we go to court with them, we will even go on the stand with them if needed.”

Pelland said many sexual assault survivors are not ready to report their case with police officers, but she said it is important to seek medical attention with her team immediately after an incident.

“Day one I can get a lot of DNA off your body of anything that may have happened,” Pelland said. “Day two, day three, day four, up to day five, it gets less and less, so if you think something happened go ahead and go and get checked out.”

Pelland recommends the buddy system with a trusted friend as a way of staying safe at the festivals, and she said covering your drink or having it in direct sight can prevent someone from tampering a drink.

The Coachella Valley Sexual Assault Services will host a volunteer training class to be a resource for survivors on May 15, learn more about their organization here.