AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, the Austin Police Department unveiled their new interview rooms specifically for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors.
The nonprofit Project Beloved recently completed the redesign and installation of the six "soft" interview rooms. Each room is decorated with a painting, cushioned chairs and aromatherapy oils.
The soundproof rooms are each decorated differently. One is specifically for child survivors.
APD spent $25,000 on remodeling five of the rooms and Project Beloved provided their design services free of charge, along with funding the furniture for the sixth room.
Project Beloved was started by Tracy Matheson after her daughter was sexually assaulted and killed in her own home.
"You have to think about what a victim is being asked to do," Matheson said. "They are sharing a story with details that are embarrassing, traumatic and painful."
Police Chief Brian Manley told KVUE that APD learned that the atmosphere in which they were conducting these types of interviews wasn't ideal for survivors, so they made a change.
"A room that's much more conducive to these types of interviews, things as police officers, we don't always think about. The color of the walls, the type of style of furniture, the ability to move the furniture around to make it more conducive to that specific interview, the artwork on the walls," Chief Manley said. "Every single piece of this is important to making that part of the process, the interview, a critical component of the investigation, the easiest as can be for a survivor of such a violent assault."
Matheson hopes that these six rooms will improve the chance of officials getting better evidence and more convictions.
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