Criminal justice department to host symposium on trauma prevention, response


By Erin Miller

Speakers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Fort Worth Police Department and more will visit TCU Wednesday to explore the stigma surrounding assault.

The event will start with prevention measures and move into response for victims. Flyer provided by Dr. Ashley Wellman

The Pain Into Purpose symposium will cover what prevention measures are put in place to prevent sexual assault, abuse and trafficking.

On the response side, the event will discuss how organizations respond to victims after crimes are committed and what can result from these events.

Dr. Ashley Wellman, an instructor of criminal justice, said the purpose of this symposium is to give people the chance to look into these situations and the people who handle them.

“We wanted to have an opportunity for the community and for our students to interact with practitioners and advocates in the field who are making a difference and trying not only to prevent and respond to trauma but to show people a way that you can thrive after trauma,” Wellman said.

One of the speakers is Tracy Matheson, the founder of Project Beloved, an organization that provides response initiatives to survivors of sexual assault.

Matheson founded the organization in 2017, a year after her daughter Molly Jane was raped and murdered in her apartment in Fort Worth.

Its two major response initiatives are Beloved Bundles and soft interview rooms.

Beloved Bundles are kits that provide sexual assault victims with clothing, hygiene products and other necessities needed after a forensic exam because most of a victim’s belongings are taken as evidence.

Soft interview rooms are created to help victims feel “emotionally safe” and more comfortable during the interview process.

“We can be a safe place should someone decide to share their story, we can support them in the way they need to be supported,” Matheson said.

Matheson will be giving her talk at 4 p.m. and she hopes people will walk away with a further understanding of sexual assault cases and a willingness to work toward changing the conversation around them.

“People can expect to learn more about Molly Jane and I think they will walk away feeling like they have a small glimpse of the incredible person she was and maybe wish they would have had the chance to know her,” Matheson said.

Matheson also said attendees will leave the symposium with a clear understanding of how to grow from horrific events.

Wellman reiterates Matheson’s statement that she hopes people walk away from the symposium with a better understanding of crime’s impact on the survivors, victims and families.

“The reality is, especially when as a society we’re so fascinated with crime, we forget that there’s another side of the coin,” Wellman said. “So frequently, we want to know about the criminal and about the crime and what happened, but we forget there’s a whole other side to the criminal justice program that is actually looking to see how we respond to and help those who have been affected by crime.”

The symposium will be held on Nov. 6 in the Kelly Center. Cynthia Hood and Dorothy Settles, victim-witness coordinators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will start off the event at 1 p.m.