New interview room designed to empower survivors | Latest titles
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Carefully chosen artwork, comfy chairs, blankets and essential oils help ease difficult memories.
A new ‘soft interview room’ at the Charlottesville Commonwealth Prosecutor’s Office is designed to create a more comfortable place for victims to remember and discuss the traumatic events they experienced as prosecutors and police prepare criminal cases.
The Charlottesville room is the newest of 48 created and installed across the country by Project Beloved, a Texas-based nonprofit that advocates, educates, and works with criminal justice officials to help victims, especially sexual assault survivors to tell their stories.
The ward is the second in Virginia, joining the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office. A third is being installed at the Virginia Military Institute.
The hall is part of an effort by a Texas mother whose daughter was killed by a serial rapist to bring hope to survivors of sexual assault and other crimes in Charlottesville through the new hall Commonwealth Attorney Joe Platania’s office interview.
People also read…
“Our hope is that by using this trauma-informed response, we’re going to get better evidence so we can make more arrests, so we can bring more cases to court, so we can get more convictions and that we can get rapists off the streets,” said Tracy Matheson, president and founder of Project Beloved: The Molly Jane Mission.
Matheson founded Project Beloved following the brutal rape and strangulation of his 22-year-old daughter, Molly Jane. Matheson found that other women had reported being assaulted by the rapist who murdered her daughter before her death, but had negative experiences talking about what happened to them, discouraging some from pursuing legal action.
Chambers provide a more comfortable place for survivors to talk to detectives and lawyers about their trauma. The rooms feature features intended to make Survivors more comfortable. The chairs swivel so survivors can move around in them. There are a variety of light fixtures, a basket of blankets, an essential oil diffuser, a table that can be moved around if someone needs a writing surface.
Even the artwork is intentional. The canvas wall hangings feature photographs taken by Megan Getrum, a woman who was murdered five days after Molly Jane was taken by the same predator.
“It’s just the perfect way to include Megan’s story in Project Beloved because we’re intertwined,” Matheson said.
Pat O’Donnell, Victim/Witness Coordinator for the City of Charlottesville, contacted Project Beloved to set up the room. Beloved project realized on an old vacant office.
“That kind of helped fuel our desire to ‘we can’t just sit here and do nothing. We have to find a way to take this horrific tragedy and help bring about change,” Matheson said. “I realized that there probably isn’t a jurisdiction in the country that has a budget set aside to do a cold, austere, sterile space, and so I said, ‘I’m going to do rooms of’. sweet talks.'”
Matheson and his organization’s mission is to create a world where survivors feel as comfortable and as safe as possible when talking about the worst day of their lives, in the hope that it will bring justice and empower those who live in it. survivors.
This mission spoke with O’Donnell and other members of victim/witness services departments, who were already beginning to work on the use of more trauma-informed interviewing practices.
“It’s something we as an office wanted to do. We started in 2018 with no budget or space. We lost a space once or twice, and we were trying to find a way to do it. And then it was last October that we discovered Project Beloved,” O’Donnell said.
Project Beloved uses donations from individuals, businesses and organizations to fund flexible interview rooms. Currently, the organization creates one to two rooms per month, with the ambition to do more.
Platania said the room will help office members foster a survivor’s healing journey. He said the sexual assault cases are among the “most difficult cases” he sees.
“It’s so positive, inspiring and we feel so blessed and blessed to be the second location in Virginia and to have people taking personal tragedy and making it into something positive,” he said. . “It’s hard not to be emotional. I think of impact and bravery and courage. We’ll think of (Matheson’s) daughter every time.
Matheson wants the tragedy of her daughter’s murder to inspire change across the country, in cities like Charlottesville.
“Everyone says ‘I can’t imagine what you’re going through’ and I can’t say I wouldn’t say the same to someone, that I can’t imagine. But that’s my reality,” Matheson said.
“And the only thing I could figure out how to get out of it was by doing that,” she said. “I would say it probably saved my sanity to be able to have something like this to pour out all my mental energy and physical energy and take this horrible, unthinkable, unfathomable, unbelievably horrible thing and help fuel this change that I hope. see coming through our efforts.
For further copyright information, see the distributor of this article, The Daily Progress.