One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime — a national public health issue that has relentlessly affected the lives of millions of Americans. While medical professionals and educators are trained to notice signs of this staggering issue, the Empire Beauty School of Massachusetts decided it was time get creative about hair and to join the action.
The Empire Beauty School has paired with the District Attorney’s office to implement the "Cut it Out" program, which seeks to "mobilize salon professionals" in the fight against domestic violence. Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan lauded the class of beauty students as being "truly the key" to preventing domestic violence. The non-profit, Cut It Out, trains stylists to recognize the signs of abuse that may come out during conversations often had during an appointment. By maximizing on the relationship between stylist and client, this educational program is a effective way at reducing domestic violence that often goes unnoticed.
The trust formed within a hairstylist relationship is the foundation for success in this program. Most clients stay with their same hairstylist for years, and frequently confide personal information in them. While victims are often reluctant to call the police about abuse, they may be likely to disclose information to someone they trust. Organizers at "Cut it Out" believe this trusting person may just be a salon professional. For that reason, they are training their salon stylists how to recognize mental, physical, and emotional signs and to handle them without judgment.
This opportunity to recognize signs of violence shouldn't be confused with professional therapy. By no means should salon stylists be held liable or responsible for diffusing any violent situation. Rather, the salon professional is another pair of eyes to notice a dire situation. Inherit in the mission of "Cut It Out" is the idea that more individuals need to learn the signs of domestic violence in order to reduce its occurrence. We've seen the impact that hairstylists can have in other public health issues, such as skin cancer prevention, a similarly sensitive health topic. By training salon professionals to be aware of health and emotional issues, they can have a profound additional impact on the lives of their clients.
Beauty schools that wish to learn more can check out the "Cut it Out" website, where they'll find information about training programs across the country. In addition to the program, Cut It Out offers resources on domestic violence and opportunities for all people to get involved in prevention. Domestic violence doesn't have to be a silent issue. By taking action towards education and prevention, progress can be made toward helping men and women who are affected by violence every day.