Note pad on a table with numerous descriptive words about mental health next to a cup of coffee

Texas group works to soften trauma for sexual assault survivors

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(Texas News Service) A north Texas nonprofit organization is working to reduce stress for trauma survivors creates "soft" police station interview rooms. They paint the walls and add comfortable furniture, lamps, rugs and artwork to make them less cold and sterile.

Tracy Matheson, founder of Project Beloved, said she created the concept after studying trauma-informed investigations, which put the survivor's needs at the forefront.

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"The space no longer looks like it belongs in a law enforcement agency, but instead looks like it belongs in someone's living room," she explained. "And when you bring a victim to that space, they can see that space and perhaps be able to imagine that maybe this isn't going to be as bad."

Matheson added they've worked with police and sheriff's departments and the military to transform more than 100 interview rooms nationwide so far. She started Project Beloved in 2018 after her daughter Molly Jane was raped and murdered. Matheson wants to change the conversation about sexual assault and give trauma survivors a voice.

The nonprofit has been instrumental in passing two sexual assault laws in the state of Texas, "Molly Jane's Law" and House Bill 4628. Both pieces of legislation require law enforcement to share information nationwide about sexual assault suspects.

When Matheson was killed, she was a 22-year-old student at the University of Arkansas. Her parents established a $2,200 scholarship in her name.

"Molly was a loud and proud Razorback; she really loved her time at The University of Arkansas and had plans to be a social worker," Matheson said. "She wanted to work with troubled youth, she was going to be very good at it. And so, it just seemed right that we would establish a scholarship in her name."

University of Arkansas students from Texas and Florida, studying social work, are eligible for the scholarship.