The Marble Falls Police Department on Nov. 6 unveiled its newly redesigned “soft interview room,” designed specifically for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
The nonprofit Project Beloved was involved in the transformation of a traditional interrogation room into the soft interview room, which includes comfortable furniture, rugs, splashes of color, and other items to make the setting feel more welcoming.
“Science has shown us that trauma has a real impact on the body, and someone who has experienced sexual assault has experienced trauma,” said Project Beloved founder Tracy Matheson. “Being interviewed in your typical interview space, which is often cold, stark, and sterile, is not a space that is trauma-informed.”
Each soft interview room is different, but the Marble Falls department’s room shares features with other rooms that Project Beloved has helped install: a warm-colored carpet, blankets, including one that is weighted, soft chairs, and an end table with a lamp.
It’s a far cry from the traditional police interrogation room.
“Transforming the space into one that is warm, inviting, and comfortable — not at all what you’d expect at a law enforcement agency,” Matheson said. “Coming into the police department and being asked the details of being raped is likely the last thing that anyone wants to do. By creating this environment that is comfortable and warm, we’re hoping to make it a little bit easier to share those details.”
The organization promotes the use of soft interview rooms as a means to make the sharing of difficult, embarrassing, or traumatic stories less challenging, but it’s just the first step in implementing trauma-induced care.
“I would love to see a trauma-informed approach across the country in any violent crime. There’s so much value in it,” Matheson said. “We understand so much more about how the brain works and what happens to the brain when trauma occurs, and it’s real.
“To take that into account is only going to help law enforcement do their job better, and, ultimately, we can do better,” she added.