By: Teresa Garcia
The Coachella Valley Sexual Assault Services (CVSAS) are in need of volunteers. The CVSAS is a private non-profit organization located in Palm Desert. The center provides services from Desert Hot Springs to Blythe, reaching out to victims of sexual assault. The Palm Desert office is the first of its kind to provide education, support and preventative services to the entire valley.
CVSAS offers a variety of services including: 24 hour hotline for victims of sexual assault and is available 24/7 to assist in victim outreach (which includes accompaniment to a hospital or to a police station following the assault), counseling (individual and group), training for law enforcement, medical professionals and social service providers; the center also makes home visits to the elderly or handicapped. CVSAS works closely with other social services such as Safe House of the Desert and The Barbara Sinatra Center and is a referral service to other social services in the valley.
Winette Daugherty is program director at the center; along with her other 2 assistants, a total of 3 women run the CVSAS center in Palm Desert. Daugherty became involved in helping victims of sexual abuse shortly after a close friend in college disclosed to her that she had been a victim of sexual assault. Daugherty was on hand to provide support for her friend and accompanied her to counseling and other appointments. Ever since that incident, Daugherty admitted she could not see herself in any other line of work.
“This kind of work isn’t for everyone,” expresses Daugherty of her concern for volunteers. A volunteer’s work includes two 12 hour shift working on call for the center twice a month and an in service meeting every month. The center provides a 7-week course for volunteers with on site training at the Annenberg Center at Eisenhower Medical Center; trauma nurses, police officers as well as Child Protective Services are on hand to assist with the training procedures. The CVSAS also provides free fingerprinting for the volunteers and lastly the center asks for a one year commitment from volunteers.
An examination of sexual violence against college women found that college freshmen and sophomore women appear at greater risk of being victims of sexual assault than are upperclassmen. 84% of the women who reported sexually coercive experiences experienced the incident during their first four semesters on campus. 38% of college aged women who have been sexually victimized while in college had first been victims prior to entering college, making past victimization the best predictor of future victimization.
The National Collegiate Date and Acquaintance Rape Statistics also show that at least 50% of college student sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use and that 90% of acquaintances rape involve alcohol. This is a point that the CVSAS strives to get across through its programs aimed at raising awareness to young teens and high school students.
“Make yourself aware, Do not wait until it happens to you” states Daugherty.
If you are interested in volunteering call the office at (760) 568-9071 or email the program director at Winetted@gmail.com for more information