Soft interview room opened at Virginia Military Institute Police Department

Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 6:32 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - There’s a new room in the Virginia Military Institute Police Department.

It’s the first of its kind on a college campus in Virginia and ready to be used to help survivors of sexual assault.

It’s called a soft interview room and it’s all thanks to a non-profit organization

Project Beloved is a non-profit with a mission statement to educate, advocate and collaborate to change the conversation about sexual assault and empower survivors to find their voices. Project Beloved was born out of a parent’s worst nightmare. It’s the easiest way I can say it. My daughter was raped and murdered April 10th, 2017 and in the aftermath of that and understanding the circumstances that basically allowed her to be killed, we decided we had to do something,” said Tracy Matheson, Project Beloved founder.

Now, among other things, the organization turns ordinary rooms into these soft interview rooms adding comfortable chairs, different light sources, blankets and more.

“When we have horrific events, such as sexual assault or domestic violence, the survivors, they lose control during those events. We felt like in a traditional interview room, it doesn’t provide the comfort level for survivors to start maintaining some dignity that they’ve lost during that event,” said Michael Marshall, Virginia Military Institute Police Chief.

“When you are asked to come and have a conversation about a topic you don’t want to talk about with someone you don’t want to talk about it to, at least the space is going to make you feel like, okay, I can sit there,” said Matheson.

Every detail is thought out and even the artwork has a special meaning to the room.

“There was a second woman who was killed 5 days after my daughter. Her name is Megan Getrum and she was an amateur photographer. She loved to travel. She went on some amazing adventures and when we designed the rooms, we knew we wanted to include art and we remembered Megan took beautiful photographs and so we contacted her family to ask if we could have permission to use her photographs and they agreed. They said they felt like Megan would be thrilled,” said Matheson.

This is the 49th soft interview room installed throughout the country.

It will be open to other departments including Washington and Lee, the Lexington Police Department and the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office.

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